Illinois State Fair

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Illinois Republicans are converging on Springfield and the Illinois State Fair for Governor's Day.

The annual festivities Wednesday draw a focus on the crucial November balloting. Gov. Bruce Rauner is trying to win re-election along with a slate of statewide and congressional candidates.

Republican regulars meet early Wednesday in downtown Springfield before GOP faithful hit the fairgrounds for an old-fashioned campaign rally at noon.

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A group of Rochelle residents is being recognized for their engineering work at the Illinois State Fair. 

Back in May, a class of Rochelle middle- and high-school students used a 3-D printer to build a prosthetic hand for local farmer Jack Hubbard.  He had lost the arm in a mechanical accident, and the new hand now lets him avoid his bulky work prosthesis at home and play more easily with his kids. 

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Several breweries from across the state will compete during a new attraction at this year's Illinois State Fair. 

The winning beer will be known as the Official Bicentennial Craft Brew.  And only one of 18 participating breweries will get to make it, after fairgoers cast their votes during opening weekend.  

Katherine Johnson/ CC By 2.0 / Flickr

Years of budget cuts and deferred maintenance at the Illinois State Fair have led to a series of problems at the fairgrounds. But officials say they’ll be ready when the fair opens in one week.

State Fair manager Kevin Gordon didn't mince words: “Honestly, the last year and half has been challenging," he said. "OK? I’ll be the first to say it.”

illinois.gov

An auction of unclaimed property worth $113,500 at the Illinois State Fair will be previewed in coming weeks in Springfield and Chicago.

State Treasurer Michael Frerichs says items include a signed, 1983 Ryne Sandberg baseball card; souvenir medallions from the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago; a Hohner 6-sided "paddle wheel" harmonica; and coins from the 1622 Spanish shipwreck of the Atocha .

The Illinois State Fair recently revealed a new logo and theme.

Spokesperson Rebecca Clark says the logo is a sleek black, red, and blue, and this year’s motto is “generations of fun.”   

"The Illinois State Fair dates back to 1853. Families have been attending the Illinois State Fair for years and years.  It just felt like this was something that we could celebrate, the families who take part in the Illinois State Fair, and we hope that continues for generations to come."

Amanda Vinicky

A new private foundation has been created to raise money for Illinois State Fair infrastructure. Questions have been raised already about how the private Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation will intermingle with government.

  Illinois State Fair officials are trying a new method of counting attendance after a dramatic drop last year.   Half as many people went to the fair in 2015 compared with the year before.  The fair’s manager at the time said figures from previous years were inflated.

Kevin Gordon is in charge now.  

“I don’t want to talk about last year’s attendance, but I’ll tell you what. That’s a question that’s been asked I dunno how many times. I mean, I’ve had a fair manager, they actually had a wheel and they’d spin the wheel, and ‘hmmmmm …125,000,'" he said.  

WUIS

A trio of football players from the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears will help kick off the Illinois State Fair next week.

    

Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson, and Steve McMichael are the grand marshals for the twilight parade Thursday (8/11) evening. 

Fair manager Kevin Gordon says then they’ll play a free concert as part of the band “The Chicago 6.”

“After the concert, they will come down off stage and we also will have a free autograph signing with them. So we obviously encourage everyone to come out,” Gordon said.

Illinois Department of Agriculture

A "must" of any visit to the state fair is the Butter Cow: a large -- though not life-sized -- sculpture of a cow, made entirely of butter.

Illinois has had one for some 90 years.

But the woman who's been doing it recently, is "mooving" on, to retirement. State fair organizers and the Midwest Dairy Association held a search for a replacement.

With a little "bovine intervention," they found Sarah Pratt, of Des Moines; she's made butter art at the Iowa State Fair for the past decade -- and not just of cows.

WUIS

Despite great weather, Illinois's State Fair, which fell later in August than usual, saw a huge decline in attendance.

At the state fair's kickoff earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced his love of the event.

"I hope everybody in Springfield, everybody around the state, come on out," he said before the fair's opening parade.

Instead, figures show attendance fell by half. The state says 411,500 people went through the fair's gates, versus the 847,000 who showed up last year.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Illinois Democrats say their party is strong and more energized than ever, thanks to Republican Governor Bruce Rauner.

The day after Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner accused them of holding up progress, hundreds of Democrats packed into a ballroom rose to their feet and clapped when Senate President John Cullerton said this:

"We are willing to work with Gov. Rauner, but we don't work for Gov. Rauner, okay?"

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS

Gov. Bruce Rauner's November election victory landed his party a summer prize Illinois Republicans haven't had in dozen years --- the pride of having Governor's Day at the Illinois State Fair. But Rauner's day of political revelry Wednesday ended with a stinging defeat.

Rauner didn't miss the opportunity to make a grand entrance to his first Governor's Day at the fairgrounds. He rode in on his black Harley.

WUIS

Governor Bruce Rauner says he’s been visiting the Illinois State Fair daily, and he’d like to see it become the nation’s greatest fair.

Rauner says one way to support the fair is by using private donations to help pay for upkeep of the state fairgrounds in Springfield.

Illinois officials say the threat of bird flu required limits on poultry at this year’s Illinois State Fair.

This strain of avian influenza entered the U.S. last December. So far it’s infected flocks in all the states surrounding Illinois.

State Department of Agriculture Director Philip Nelson says it’s resulted in 48 million birds either dying or being killed. Because of that, he says bird exhibitions at the state fair will be limited to Illinois birds.

WUIS

You’ll be able to get your fill of corn dogs and lemon shakeups as usual when state fairs get underway next month. 

Democratic House Speaker Mike Madigan said that without a budget, Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner does not have the power to spend on Illinois’ two state fairs.  But both events are moving forward.

Without a state budget, funding has halted for social services and other programs. Rauner’s administration has not made clear how it intends to pay for fair expenses.

statefairmuseum.org

Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner’s office says the Illinois State Fair will take place next month, with or without a budget.

House Speaker Michael Madigan says the administration gave up the legal power to spend money on the fair. The governor vetoed most of the budget approved by the legislature -- including the funding for the event.

“He had options under the constitution…today, there is no budget and there is no spending authority,” Madigan said. 

Things are quieter for GOP at the fair

Aug 16, 2012

Members of the Illinois GOP are rallying their supporters for Republican Day at the Illinois State Fair one day after demonstrators booed Gov. Pat Quinn at Democratic events. But Republicans are not talking much about the presidential election just a few months away.

Democrats filled a banquet hall yesterday in a raucus event -- frequently evoking the name Barack Obama and getting the crowd riled up.

Republicans organized a much smaller event today with about 100 attendees, mostly county party chairmen.