Capitol - Your Illinois News Radar » Annual State Fair Democrat Day rally canceled
SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax      Advertise Here      Mobile Version     Exclusive Subscriber Content     Updated Posts    Contact
To subscribe to Capitol Fax, click here.
Annual State Fair Democrat Day rally canceled

Monday, Jul 31, 2017 - Posted by Rich Miller

[This post has been bumped up from Friday to Monday for easier display and comments are now open.]

* Mostly true…

* Democrat Day itself has not been canceled. Party members will still get their free tickets to the fair just like Republicans will on Governor’s Day. But the traditional noontime rally has been canceled.

Steve Brown told me part of the problem with Democrat Day over the years was that the same people make pretty much the same speeches at both the county party chairman’s brunch and then at the state fairgrounds rally a couple of hours or so later. It gets boring and repetitive and kinda pointless. It can be a real drag sitting in the hot sun listening to the same speech you just heard at brunch.

So, it looks like this could be the end of a very long era. I don’t know how far back the tradition goes, but it’s a very long time. Back in the day, the first Mayor Daley would send trainloads of people to the fair. It used to be a huge deal, but the rally crowds for both parties have seemed to taper off in recent years and I don’t think that Speaker Madigan likes doing it, either. Maybe it’ll restart if the Democrats elect a governor again, whenever that might be, because then Madigan won’t have to be in charge.

* From a Crain’s column I wrote back in 2014

The Illinois State Fair’s “Director’s Lawn” is a tree-lined venue far from the corn dogs, grandstand concerts and beer tents.

The lawn spreads out in front of a rather dingy house used by the state’s director of agriculture, off a road marred by potholes and best accessed via a special gate that often is closed during the fair because there’s so little public parking. A million or so people attend the fair each year.

The grass on the lawn is trampled flat. But no events ever are as crowded as the annual Governor’s Day and the accompanying rally for the party out of power.

Even in this era of high-tech campaigns, the twin events unofficially kick off the governor’s race, despite the fairgrounds’ somewhat rundown appearance. Politicians high and low attend. The more important ones give speeches, the less important mill about and try to interest others in shaking their hands. Every major media outlet sends reporters.

There usually are four crowds. There’s the “true believers,” young men and women who work or volunteer for the candidates. They wear matching T-shirts, carry signs and fire up the crowds by cheering or shouting slogans on command.

Then there are the “older believers,” folks who aren’t nearly as youthful or fired up but still strongly support their candidates. They sit in the front section with a clear view of the stage.

The “space-fillers” mostly are bused in to increase the crowd. They sit where they can’t see the speakers, either behind the stands for the news media or off to the side under a canvas tent. They chat among themselves and enjoy the free food.

The fourth group is the “hacks in the back.” These are the political professionals, high-level campaign operatives, lobbyists and legislators. They’ve heard enough speeches, so they gossip at the rear of the lawn near the free beer.

No more free beer and hot dogs and politicking on the Director’s Lawn this year, at least for the Democrats.


  1. - Curl of the Burl - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 8:56 am:

    So what I get out of this is that Madigan can no longer find pants that hike up closer to his armpits.

  2. - Keyrock - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:06 am:

    My dad was a precinct captain in Cook County in the ’60’s. I rode the bus in with him to the fair a couple of times. My favorite part was a guy doing a demonstration of using a jet pack to soar into the air. I wondered if we would all have them someday.

    We’ll probably all have jet packs before we have good, honest, efficient state government.

  3. - illini - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:15 am:

    I have attended several times over the past 20 years and Rich is absolutely correct about the four different crowds. Interesting dynamics at the fairgrounds.

    Yet, like Rich, the only thing I would miss is the free beer and hotdogs.

  4. - Joe Bidenopolous - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:21 am:

    Isn’t the Governor staying at the Director’s residence while the mansion is under renovation? That and the fact that session could still be dragging on would seem to be plausible reasons for cancelling as well. It’ll look pretty bad if there’s no education bill done by governor’s day.

  5. - Give Me A Break - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:22 am:

    The political days have outlived their purpose. Back in the day, it might have been the only time you saw other members of your party and caught up on the news. Today, with social media, there is no need to travel to get the latest.

    The “good old days” of going to the director’s lawn then spending the rest of the day in a beer tent or the Grandstand watching the horses seem to be over.

    Rod’ first fair as Gov. was one of the largest political days I’ve ever seen. Since then, attendance has been dropping.

  6. - Oswego Willy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:30 am:

    I think about 17% of this decision might be that Rauner lives on the Grounds.

    The luncheon serves its purpose.

    I’d like to see both rallies back as soon as possible.

  7. - FLEA - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 9:32 am:

    Poe’s catering will miss out on the revenue for that event…oh well.

  8. - Tough Guy - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:28 am:

    I wonder if Roland Burris will retire his cowboy hat now? Haven’t seen it at the D-Day luncheon event for several years anyway.

  9. - zatoichi - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 10:39 am:

    I have been to several Rep and Dem days because I happen to be at the fair for other events. They were OK as a nice way to see the people whose names are heard/read about. Always ran into people I knew who came for the drinks and eats. Speeches….not exactly crowd roaring motivators. I usually left after 1-2 big names and a box lunch.

  10. - d.p.gumby - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:12 am:

    Thank you! Unless there is a big name guest, it is a dog day afternoon in the worst sense!

  11. - Chicago Cynic - Monday, Jul 31, 17 @ 11:31 am:

    Dem/Rep day was always a nice test to see whether campaigns have their act together. If a campaign couldn’t perform well at D-Day, it was often a bad sign of things to come. I don’t like this decision.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Afternoon roundup
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Fundraiser list
* Uber And ASU Are Expanding Access To Higher Education In Illinois
* Progressives, prosecutors and ISRA come together on bipartisan gun-related bill
* It’s almost a law
* Question of the day
* Welch explains how his caucus avoided the city council's divisive fight over immigrants
* * Live Coverage * Jimmy Weiss trial
* Man put on city's "Do No Rehire" list after failing to stop harassment and abuse hired on contract by four alderpersons
* SUBSCRIBERS ONLY - Today's edition of Capitol Fax (use all CAPS in password)
* Open thread
* Isabel’s morning briefing
* Live coverage
* Yesterday's stories

Visit our advertisers...





Main Menu
Pundit rankings
Subscriber Content
Blagojevich Trial
Updated Posts

June 2023
May 2023
April 2023
March 2023
February 2023
January 2023
December 2022
November 2022
October 2022
September 2022
August 2022
July 2022
June 2022
May 2022
April 2022
March 2022
February 2022
January 2022
December 2021
November 2021
October 2021
September 2021
August 2021
July 2021
June 2021
May 2021
April 2021
March 2021
February 2021
January 2021
December 2020
November 2020
October 2020
September 2020
August 2020
July 2020
June 2020
May 2020
April 2020
March 2020
February 2020
January 2020
December 2019
November 2019
October 2019
September 2019
August 2019
July 2019
June 2019
May 2019
April 2019
March 2019
February 2019
January 2019
December 2018
November 2018
October 2018
September 2018
August 2018
July 2018
June 2018
May 2018
April 2018
March 2018
February 2018
January 2018
December 2017
November 2017
October 2017
September 2017
August 2017
July 2017
June 2017
May 2017
April 2017
March 2017
February 2017
January 2017
December 2016
November 2016
October 2016
September 2016
August 2016
July 2016
June 2016
May 2016
April 2016
March 2016
February 2016
January 2016
December 2015
November 2015
October 2015
September 2015
August 2015
July 2015
June 2015
May 2015
April 2015
March 2015
February 2015
January 2015
December 2014
November 2014
October 2014
September 2014
August 2014
July 2014
June 2014
May 2014
April 2014
March 2014
February 2014
January 2014
December 2013
November 2013
October 2013
September 2013
August 2013
July 2013
June 2013
May 2013
April 2013
March 2013
February 2013
January 2013
December 2012
November 2012
October 2012
September 2012
August 2012
July 2012
June 2012
May 2012
April 2012
March 2012
February 2012
January 2012
December 2011
November 2011
October 2011
September 2011
August 2011
July 2011
June 2011
May 2011
April 2011
March 2011
February 2011
January 2011
December 2010
November 2010
October 2010
September 2010
August 2010
July 2010
June 2010
May 2010
April 2010
March 2010
February 2010
January 2010
December 2009
November 2009
October 2009
September 2009
August 2009
July 2009
June 2009
May 2009
April 2009
March 2009
February 2009
January 2009
December 2008
November 2008
October 2008
September 2008
August 2008
July 2008
June 2008
May 2008
April 2008
March 2008
February 2008
January 2008
December 2007
November 2007
October 2007
September 2007
August 2007
July 2007
June 2007
May 2007
April 2007
March 2007
February 2007
January 2007
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006
July 2006
June 2006
May 2006
April 2006
March 2006
February 2006
January 2006
December 2005
April 2005
March 2005
February 2005
January 2005
December 2004
November 2004
October 2004

Blog*Spot Archives
November 2005
October 2005
September 2005
August 2005
July 2005
June 2005
May 2005


RSS Feed 2.0
Comments RSS 2.0

Hosted by MCS SUBSCRIBE to Capitol Fax Advertise Here Mobile Version Contact Rich Miller