Illinois State Fair

Amanda Vinicky

A new private foundation has been created to raise money for Illinois State Fair infrastructure. Questions have been raised already about how the private Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation will intermingle with government.

  Illinois State Fair officials are trying a new method of counting attendance after a dramatic drop last year.   Half as many people went to the fair in 2015 compared with the year before.  The fair’s manager at the time said figures from previous years were inflated.

Kevin Gordon is in charge now.  

“I don’t want to talk about last year’s attendance, but I’ll tell you what. That’s a question that’s been asked I dunno how many times. I mean, I’ve had a fair manager, they actually had a wheel and they’d spin the wheel, and ‘hmmmmm …125,000,'" he said.  


A trio of football players from the 1985 Super Bowl Chicago Bears will help kick off the Illinois State Fair next week.


Dan Hampton, Otis Wilson, and Steve McMichael are the grand marshals for the twilight parade Thursday (8/11) evening. 

Fair manager Kevin Gordon says then they’ll play a free concert as part of the band “The Chicago 6.”

“After the concert, they will come down off stage and we also will have a free autograph signing with them. So we obviously encourage everyone to come out,” Gordon said.

Illinois Department of Agriculture

A "must" of any visit to the state fair is the Butter Cow: a large -- though not life-sized -- sculpture of a cow, made entirely of butter.

Illinois has had one for some 90 years.

But the woman who's been doing it recently, is "mooving" on, to retirement. State fair organizers and the Midwest Dairy Association held a search for a replacement.

With a little "bovine intervention," they found Sarah Pratt, of Des Moines; she's made butter art at the Iowa State Fair for the past decade -- and not just of cows.


Despite great weather, Illinois's State Fair, which fell later in August than usual, saw a huge decline in attendance.

At the state fair's kickoff earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced his love of the event.

"I hope everybody in Springfield, everybody around the state, come on out," he said before the fair's opening parade.

Instead, figures show attendance fell by half. The state says 411,500 people went through the fair's gates, versus the 847,000 who showed up last year.