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Ode to Du Quoin

Friday, Aug 30, 2019 - Posted by Rich Miller

* 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.”

* Related…

* Du Quoin State Fair food: For something different, try the wings


  1. - Former State Employee - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:30 am:

    Rich, thanks for the positive story about Du Quoin. It is so much more than the recent craziness over a music act.

  2. - Anon E Moose - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:42 am:

    Say what you want about the Pritzkers, they are charitable.

  3. - JoanP - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:47 am:

    Both great stories, and good for the Pritzkers. I must say, however, that it’s a bit weird for the governor to have two official residences.

  4. - Oswego Willy - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 9:51 am:

    ===Say what you want about the Pritzkers, they are charitable.===

    … just ask Diana Rauner and the Ounce of Prevention.

    To the Post,

    Ms. Munks hits on the history and concern in one and the needs and things changing, for good, in the other.

    There’s something to be said for good press, and that good press helping to keep something cherished. To often we read about how things need to be eliminated, or how something is closing. These types of pieces give a view of not only the need to know and appreciate the history of that fair, but that others, (the Pritzkers in this case) also see the importance of the fair and the need of its continuation.

    Good stuff.

  5. - proudstatetrooper - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:25 am:

    Wanda Rednour is a class act. Wanda and her late husband John were two of the most hospitable people in Southern Illinois, especially during the fair. It did not matter if you were an R or a D they treated you like you were family. God Bless the Rednours.

  6. - efudd - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:30 am:

    Thank you Governor Pritzker for investing your money into something that many southern Illinois businesses depend on for revenue.
    Nice to have an executive that walks it like he talks it.

  7. - Nick Name - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:31 am:

    ===Rednour’s annual bash is the party within the party in the park.===

    That’s pretty cool.

  8. - R A T - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    “…it reminds them more of a county fair than a state fair …”

    That is because it is one. It is not a state fair and needs to quit being treated as one. Big Jim had an idea that may have worked for awhile but that time is past. End that as a state fair now. The Department of Ag has more important things it could be doing with a few million dollars each year.

  9. - Bourbon Street - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:50 am:

    This story makes this Northern Illinoisan want to head to the Du Quoin State Fair, if for no other reason to than to attend Wanda Rednour’s party.

  10. - Rich Miller - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 10:52 am:

    ===End that as a state fair now===

    If you think a governor who is a Chicago Democrat is gonna end that state fair, you got another think coming. No upside at all. Only downside. Even the boycotters would be spitting mad.

    The only guy who could’ve closed it would’ve been Glenn Poshard, but he lost.

  11. - leonard - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 11:44 am:

    proudstatetrouper no truer words have ever been written thank you

  12. - Former State Employee - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 12:00 pm:

    I have known the Rednour’s since I was a young man. Self made and humble, two of the finest people I have ever known anywhere.

  13. - Benjamin Recchie - Friday, Aug 30, 19 @ 12:04 pm:

    Today I learned the governor of Illinois has two official residences. Huh.

    Regarding the restoration, I’m glad to see Pritzker funding this out of his own pocket. It’s charitable, and also smart politics. I think Rauner would have been more popular if he took some of the fortune he spent trying to get rid of Mike Madigan on private donations to community entities across the state. Every time a town wanted to rebuild a Little League diamond, he should have been there, checkbook in hand, and the sign would have said “This field was renovated through a generous gift of Gov. and Mrs. Bruce Rauner.” One more missed opportunity for Bruce.

Sorry, comments for this post are now closed.

* Reader comments closed for the weekend
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