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*** UPDATED x1 *** Must the show go on?

Friday, Feb 26, 2016

* 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.

Your thoughts?

*** 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.

- Posted by Rich Miller        

  1. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:12 pm:

    No Manager named yet, and 166 days to go…

    Scrambling doesn’t really start until June anyway. Wonder if there’ll be a butter cow??? You know… priorities!

  2. - There is power in a union... - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:12 pm:

    Well by summer there will be a lot of laid off state and university employees so they’ll need something to do right? /s

  3. - Politix - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:12 pm:

    Oh I’m sure the gov will find a way to let the show go on without even a hint of shame.

  4. - There is power in a union... - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:13 pm:

    Speaker Madigan and the butter cows he controls…

  5. - DuPage - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:16 pm:

    Sell sponsorships? The John Deere state fair? Caterpillar? ADM? Monsanto/DeKalb?

  6. - Montrose - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:18 pm:

    You can’t cancel the state fair for the same reason you have to pay the lottery winners and keep the DMV open - the general population of Illinois will begin to feel that the state budget impasse could affect them. That is the last thing Rauner wants. So, the butter cow must go on.

  7. - 360 Degree TurnAround - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:22 pm:

    Maybe the state can put cash boxes around the fair grounds where people can donate to the state.

  8. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:23 pm:

    Hey, it’s in the State Constitution that the show must go on… but, so is the requirement for the Governor to submit an annual balanced budget. Again… priorities!

  9. - Bogey Golfer - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:24 pm:

    Reduce the number of days from 10 to 7. Reduce the grandstand shows a couple of nights. Like the corporate sponsorship route.

  10. - NixonHead - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:24 pm:

    Why not just turn it over to a non profit and get the State shenanigans out of it as much as possible?

  11. - cardsmama - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:28 pm:

    A gofundme collection to run the fair?

  12. - Annonin' - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:29 pm:

    Last year they lied (said payments will made by Sept ) and threatened…doubt either work…maybe COt Fax could sponsored…carve a big hunk of butter in your likeness….winnnnnner

  13. - Gobsmacked - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:30 pm:

    someone should do their doctoral dissertation on the many, many paralyzing and destructive tendrils resulting from all this idiocy. a lesson for the ages….

  14. - olddog - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:31 pm:

    === Why not just turn it over to a non profit and get the State shenanigans out of it as much as possible? ===

    Great idea! Then you can stiff the non-profit and drive them out of business, too. /s

  15. - The Dude Abides - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:32 pm:

    @Montrose I think you are right. That’s why the Gove mentioned in his budget address that he wants a K-12 funding bill sent to him. A whole lot of people will be outraged if the schools aren’t open. He’s already shown that he doesn’t mind destroying the safety net for the poor and unfortunate. There are many things more important than the fair that the Governor has turned his back on but the fair is symbolic to a lot of people. If we don’t get a fair and balanced budget we have no business having a fair.

  16. - LizPhairTax - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:33 pm:

    Last year it was slightly embarrassing to have the fair with no budget. This year would be grotesque.

    Ax it.

  17. - Earnest - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:37 pm:

    If they can pull it off without any state funding, more power to them. If they need state funding, I’m now in favor of an all-or-nothing approach. Either everything’s a hostage or a full budget is passed.

  18. - illini97 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:43 pm:

    Sorry. I love the fair, but you can’t put homeless kids out on the street and then display the old butter cow like there’s nothing wrong.

    Continue planning, but they need to set a Decision Day that says if there’s no budget to appropriate funds on said day, fair is cancelled.

  19. - The Way I See It - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:47 pm:

    We must have circuses!

  20. - Newsclown - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:49 pm:

    Reposting. But on the other hand, the fairgrounds makes a great place for all these affected constituencies to stage daily protest rallies. They could follow Rauner around to every ribbon-cutting and make themselves obnoxious. “Governor avoids angry citizens, skips attending State Fair” - that’s national-level PR.

    The butter cow could be turned into a butter chart of all the programs and services being devastated by Rauner. It might look like a Swiss Cheese Cow by August.

    I don’t think trying to kill the Fair, just to save Rauner from the bad press of doing it, serves anybody’s best interests. Neither does it really “help” solve any of the real problems. That’s a false equivalency, like the folks that say we shouldn’t have a space program as long as there are starving poor people in the world. We should be saving people AND doing all the other things, simultaneously.

    Canceling the Fair hurts more people than it helps.

  21. - WonderfulWorld - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:49 pm:

    Cancel it. I am sorry to those who will be hurt, but, honestly, we do have to think of priorities. This should not even be a question…

  22. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:53 pm:

    Sorry, not constitution, but state statute-

    So… the ILGA could amend this section to include only if adequate finances are available-

    (20 ILCS 210/5) (from Ch. 127, par. 1705)
    Sec. 5. The Department shall annually hold a State Fair at Springfield and DuQuoin to promote agriculture, the agriculture industry, and provide for exhibits and activities in the fields of industry, education, the arts and crafts, labor, entertainment and other areas of interest to the people of the State.
    (Source: P.A. 84-1468.)

  23. - Honeybear - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:54 pm:

    Go ahead and violate the constitution Governor and cancel the fair. It’s not like you haven’t already violated it by not proposing a balanced budget. Use a technical gimmick to get out of it. If we are to live in maw we had better get to it and suffer through.

  24. - Austin Blvd - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:56 pm:

    Calling Oswego Willy…
    There’s got to be an episode of Dad’s Home State dealing with the fairs that used to be…

  25. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:58 pm:

    Last August, I was adamant that the show must go on.

    It would have been indefensible to pull the rug out from under the folks who had been working toward it, and the businesses who depend on it.

    But it’s clear now that sticking it to people is what this administration is all about. This year, it’s indefensible to hold it.

    No bread, no circuses.

  26. - LizPhairTax - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 12:59 pm:

    All the stereotypes about carnies and the real grifter is a flim-flam man from Winnetka

  27. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:00 pm:

    - Austin Blvd -

    The writers are working on that episode as a flashback last year…

    The editing of the footage is taking longer than even I thought. Not a spoiler, but the butter “cow” and Slip and Sue… comedy ensues.

    I said too much.

  28. - JS Mill - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:01 pm:

    Whew! Canceling the fair would really Rick off the farmers and John Deere! Rauner is still strong with them so I don’t see that happening, but it probably should.

  29. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:09 pm:

    Governor’s Day and Democrat Day would be reeaally interesting! Would be some good conversations to be had in the government tents, too! Wonder how many elected officials want to be on those hot seats???

  30. - Secret Square - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:12 pm:

    “the general population of Illinois will begin to feel that the state budget impasse could affect them. That is the last thing Rauner wants”

    Maybe, but does he really think driving one or more state universities out of business is something the general public isn’t going to notice? Unless, I suppose, you define “general public” as “middle/upper class residents of the Chicago suburbs” and assume their kids are all going to either private or out of state universities anyway.

  31. - Money - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:15 pm:

    Didn’t the concerts make money last year? How would it help the homeless to cancel something that makes money?

  32. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:16 pm:

    Me thinks AG Director Poe should recommend to the RAUN Man that sales tax be applied to farm equipment. The windfall could certainly help pay for the state fair and more than likely solve the states pension crisis.

  33. - Past the Rule of 85 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:16 pm:

    The State Fair has become the Rauner version of North Korea’s Kim Jong-un who stages grand parades and events in the Capitol while people in the countryside are starving.

  34. - AC - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:18 pm:

    Anon221 - in accordance with appropriation by the General Assembly for operation of the Illinois State Fair.

  35. - Doofman - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:19 pm:

    Secret dream? You know people read this blog, right?

  36. - jerry 101 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:20 pm:

    The show should not go on until there’s a budget in place. If CSU is in imminent danger of closing. IF EIU is in imminent danger of closing.

    Why should the fair go on?

  37. - wordslinger - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:22 pm:

    –Didn’t the concerts make money last year? How would it help the homeless to cancel something that makes money?–

    You’re really missing the point.

    Start with the Preamble to the Illinois Constitution.

  38. - NixonHead - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:23 pm:

    @OddDog snark well received. However, the whole point of turning over the state fair to a non-profit would be to get the State out of the business of financing/operating the fair. There would be no one that the State could “stiff” because the State would not be involved.

    I mean seriously, how can the State put on a fair when people are being denied access to basic social services and other things?

  39. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:25 pm:

    AC- I’ll go along with that:) Now, onto the sponsors of the amendment… and Dunkin is excused!

  40. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:26 pm:

    I love the Fair.

    Life CSU and EIU can’t open in the Fall… how can Illinois hold a fair in the Summer?

    It breaks my heart not to have a fair, but it crushes me that Higher Education institutions are closing, and that’s a far bigger tragedy.

  41. - illinoised - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:27 pm:

    Cancel it. This would be a no brainer if we had a governor capable of governing. I love the state fair but I refuse to go while disadvantaged citizens are suffering. I urge a boycott, “No budget, no fair!”

  42. - Korndog - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:28 pm:

    I agree with what Wordslinger said. My opinion has turned 180 on this issue.
    Also, the previous comment, === someone should do their doctoral dissertation === maybe someone from Chicago State? Oh wait…..

  43. - Blue dog dem - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:43 pm:

    … budget,no fair……no Oreos!

  44. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:45 pm:

    … budget,no fair……no DEEP-FRIED Oreos!

    FIXED IT;)

  45. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:56 pm:

    It’s not just the vendors at the fair. Cancelling the state fair will have a MAJOR impact on people and businesses within a several block area of the fairgrounds. Quite a few of the people who live there / own the property within walking distance DEPEND on the money made from parking cars to pay their property taxes. And it’s not just residents; I know of both the PTA at a public school and a church that are heavily dependent on that parking money.

    Plus the lost hotel / motel money (and associated tax revenue) will be huge … Springfield is pretty much sold out that week and a half.

    For now, keep planning it …

  46. - FIREDup! - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:57 pm:

    Any word on the salaries of the promoted and newly hired? If we’ve learned anything…Rauner pays well!

  47. - RNUG - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:58 pm:

    == 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). ==

    The job’s open; be a quick way for Rauner to shut down the Cap Fax criticism. Plus then you ride around the grounds during the fair in the Caddy! /s

  48. - Thinking - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:58 pm:

    AC is correct-the specific language of State Fair Act says fair shall occur, subject to appropriation. I talked to someone high up in Gov Office last year, they were aware of language, shrugged shoulders and said tif cancel in July they would lose all the money they spent getting ready in prior fiscal year.

    The Gov’s Office presented numbers to show ticket sales paid for Grandstand, but they failed to include the cost related to stagehands, sound, insurance, lighting, security, etc. etc. the Grandstand has never made money, but it does attract people to fair and they spend money at beer tent and other vendors.

    I love fair, but last year was held in violation of law. Let’s not repeat if there isn’t budget.

    Final note-Kevin Gordon is a perfect choice, great guy, knowledgable, couldn’t ask for better selection. So none of the prior comments are disrespect to him.

  49. - North of I74 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 1:59 pm:

    two days Governors day ( for the protesters) and democratic day (for the unions), leave the gates open and let in exhibitors to exhibit if they like. Up north we don’t care.

  50. - 13th Ward - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:03 pm:

    Get out you turkey fryer and you can batter and fry anything you want.

  51. - Kevin Highland - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:04 pm:

    Anon221…..simple solution

  52. - JS Mill - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:06 pm:

    =Up north we don’t care.=

    Speak for yourself. Many north of I 74 care. I am one of them.

  53. - Anon - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:18 pm:

    I feel bad for that guy.

    Last July I had to walk a Department of Agriculture Employee how to export an excel file from a program I’d never seen and how to open up outlook and attach it to the email over the phone.

    And I mean step by step, “Do you see the paper clip at the top of the box?” walk them through it.

  54. - Old Shepherd - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:24 pm:

    Please correct me if I’m wrong, but didn’t the administration justify having the 2015 fairs by saying that the various fair contracts were already made in the previous fiscal year and were unbreakable?

    If that’s the case, then how can they enter into contracts now for the 2016 fairs without a budget?

  55. - drew - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:27 pm:

    From the constitution:
    The State, units of local government and school
    districts shall incur obligations for payment or make payments from public funds only as authorized by law or ordinance.

    So if you’re going to vendors and saying “hey, I know we don’t have a budget, but we’d like you to provide these services to us and we’ll pay you when we have a budget,” isn’t that obligating the state to make a payment and therefore unconstitutional?

  56. - Give Me A Break - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:31 pm:

    Kevin Gordon will do a great job. He has been the one behind the scenes running the fair for years. Best advise to the Gov’s people, get out of Kevin’s way and let him do his job.

  57. - Tommydanger - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:31 pm:

    What bizzaro world are we living in, where we can cut services and aid to our neediest residents, fail to support our higher education institutions, stiff our vendors and service providers to the point they go out of business and still pretend its ok to have a fair?

    Is there no shame?????

  58. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:31 pm:

    I don’t see in the State Fair Act where it specifies “subject to appropriation”. What part of the Act is it under?

  59. - Tommydanger - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:33 pm:

    I changed my mind, have the fair, but only if Rauner will buy a steer for 5 billion dollars with the proceeds going to our social safety net.

  60. - Saluki - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 2:59 pm:

    Cut the number of days at both fairs. Sell naming rights on the grandstands and expo halls. Drop the price for parking and bring back better horse racing.

  61. - Ghost - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:00 pm:

    i still think a public/prvt partnership to operate the fair…. and the fairgrounds when the fair is mornpresent may be a good idea. get some sponsorship, get more evnts. fair last year was missing a lot of the sode events and shows we usually go see….

  62. - Thinking - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:18 pm:

    Anon 221: look at 20 ILCS 210/10

    All funds from fair have to go into State Fair Fund and may only be spent with appropriation from General Assembly.

    So remember that some folks did get paid-the Grandstand Acts but no one else. The bands won’t step foot on stage until their manager receives the check. So how they get paid?? The Department has the ability to establish an imprest checking account so they can write checks immediately. With no appropriation, how do you fund that account? Answer: the Comptroller’s Office loans it to the Department. So let’s make sure we understand that the several hundred thousand dollars for the Grandstand Acts has not been paid back to Comptroller. The same Comptroller who says there isn’t enough money to pay consent decrees. Enough to loan Ag $$$$ for bands, but no soup for the disabled and children at risk.

    It’s all about choices people.

  63. - Anon221 - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:19 pm:

    (20 ILCS 210/10) (from Ch. 127, par. 1710)
    Sec. 10. The Department may enter into contracts with other government agencies to assist them in the operation of each State Fair and the State Fairgrounds as well as the requirements set forth in Section 9 of this Act.
    The Department may cooperate with any other local, State or federal agency in the furtherance of the intent of this Act.
    The Department may receive and use any donation either from the private or public sectors which is for betterment of each State Fair and the State Fairgrounds.
    All revenues from the operation and use of any facilities of the Illinois State Fair at Springfield and the Springfield State Fairgrounds shall be deposited in the Illinois State Fair Fund. All revenues from the operation and use of any facilities of the DuQuoin State Fair and the DuQuoin State Fairgrounds shall be deposited into the Agricultural Premium Fund. All funds in the Illinois State Fair Fund shall be used by the Department of Agriculture in accordance with appropriation by the General Assembly for operation of the Illinois State Fair.
    (Source: P.A. 88-5.)
    This only applies to the State Fair Fund. Might be why the Governor’s office shrugged their shoulders last year.

  64. - lincoln's beard - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 3:47 pm:

    Is there a number on what percentage of Illinois citizens have been to a state fair in their lifetime? I bet it’s less than twenty percent.

  65. - SAP - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 4:30 pm:

    - Old Shepherd - I believe you are correct that many (most?) of the State Fair contracts were prepaid before the State ran out of Non-consent decree spending authority. Not sure how you sign a 2016 grandstand act when you have no idea when or how you will pay them.

    So I vote no Fair unless there is a budget.

  66. - burbanite - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 4:35 pm:

    Where is the appropriation for the fair coming from? I thought the Gov wasn’t going to spend money we dont’ have.

  67. - jw - Friday, Feb 26, 16 @ 4:53 pm:

    why can:t farmers pay sales tax on machinery parts seed chemicals fertlizer. it would or almost pay the pension debt. 30 to 40 $ per acre times millions of acres 12000$ for a combine add it up

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