* Jamie Munks at the Tribune has written a couple of good stories about the Du Quoin State Fair. Here’s one…
Each year when the parade kicking off Illinois’ second state fair winds down, fairgoers stream by the hundreds to Wanda Rednour’s lawn, which sits in the middle of the state fairgrounds.
The longtime Du Quoin resident opens her home for a lawn party to kick off the fair. If the Du Quoin State Fair, located on a sprawling piece of lush southern Illinois land, is a “park with a party in the middle of it,” as fair manager Josh Gross describes it, then Rednour’s annual bash is the party within the party in the park.
It’s the sort of thing that engenders a more intimate experience than the much larger Illinois State Fair in Springfield about 150 miles north — so much so that some regulars say it reminds them more of a county fair than a state fair.
The Du Quoin State Fair, which the state has owned and operated since 1986, was previously run by private owners. In its heyday, when it was home to the Hambletonian, the “Kentucky Derby of harness racing,” the fair would draw hundreds of thousands of people from all over the region during its annual summer run.
The fairgrounds lost that race in 1980 but soon drew the prestigious World Trotting Derby, which held court in the summer in Du Quoin for decades. It was cut in 2010, when the state Department of Agriculture’s budget was slashed, part of widespread cutbacks aimed at closing a major deficit in the state budget that year. There were some concerns locally at the time that the fair itself would cease to exist because of the state’s budget woes.
* Here’s the other…
Illinois first lady M.K. Pritzker is leading a restoration effort at the governor’s official Downstate residence in Du Quoin, marking what some locals see as more attentiveness to the region than they’ve seen in years.
The Pritzkers are privately funding the work on the state-owned Hayes House and so far have spent nearly $100,000, according to the governor’s office. […]
The home sits on the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds and has served as the Downstate executive residence for Illinois governors and their families since the state bought the sprawling property from a private owner in the lost ts. […]
“It’s important, because that house needed some renovation,” [Du Quoin Mayor Guy Alongi] said. “Other governors have just came and gone and not done anything to that mansion. At least they’re doing something to it.”
* Du Quoin State Fair food: For something different, try the wings