* I love the Illinois State Fair. I always have. My secret dream is to serve as State Fair Director when I retire from this gig (which is probably never, but, hey, it’s a dream).
Last year, I had surgery during the fair, but I browbeat my doctors into allowing me to go to both Governor’s Day and Democrat Day just a few days after I was released from the hospital. I probably would’ve gone even if they had said “No way.” And, of course, I’m already looking forward to attending this year, partly to make up for lost time.
* That being said, with teen homeless and rape crisis centers closing, universities on the verge of insolvency and everything else going to heck in a handbasket, I can certainly understand why folks wouldn’t love this idea…
Even without having a manager and the fact that vendors who provide services still haven’t been paid from last year’s Illinois State Fair, planning for the 2016 version is well under way, officials say.
Illinois Department of Agriculture spokeswoman Rebecca Clark said planning for the 2016 state fair, which runs Aug. 11-21, began immediately after the 2015 fair concluded. […]
“Planning is well underway for the 2016 Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair,” [Illinois Ag Director Raymond Poe] said in an emailed response to questions. “We have a fantastic staff and will soon add a state fair manager.” […]
Vendors are owed about $1.59 million from the 2015 fair, according to figures supplied by the agriculture department. The largest amount is $252,000 owed to judges, superintendents and show employees, the figures show.
I don’t see how they’ll convince vendors to return if they aren’t paid by then, but one never knows. And, hey, maybe the impasse will be over by then, so planning should definitely continue.
And there’s no doubt that canceling the fair would really hurt the Springfield-area economy. Then again, other towns are feeling the pinch already, particularly Chicago, where most of the pain seems to be (perhaps deliberately) concentrated.
*** UPDATE *** Right on cue…
State officials on Friday unveiled a new organizational structure for the Illinois Department of Agriculture that promotes a longtime Illinois State Fair official and hires a staffer from Springfield’s Prairie Capital Convention Center.
Kevin Gordon becomes the new manager of the Division of Fairs and Promotional Services, which will oversee four Agriculture bureaus — the Illinois State Fair, the DuQuoin State Fair, Business Services, and County Fairs and Horse Racing. Previously, the four bureaus operated independently of each other.
“Combining these already existing bureaus together in one cohesive unit will enhance efficiencies for the state of Illinois,” acting Agriculture director Raymond Poe said in the news release. “Now all fair related activities will be centered in one division, under the leadership of one manager. These bureaus are vital to the Department, and with good leadership these bureaus will thrive.”
Gordon, 54, previously was the Illinois State Fair operations manager and has planned state fairs since 2000.