Officials tout changes, economic impact of state fair

(The Center Square) – The countdown is on for the 2022 Illinois State Fair.

The event in Springfield begins on Aug. 11 and runs for ten days. The event has been celebrated nearly every year since 1853 as a showcase for Illinois agriculture.

During a fair preview event, Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Jerry Costello said the state fair positively impacts the entire state economically.

“If you look at the Illinois State Fair, it is approximately a $84 million annual economic impact for Sangamon County, the surrounding counties and Illinois in general,” said Costello.

Rebecca Clark, the new Illinois State Fair manager, says with inflation hurting Illinois families, it was important to not raise prices.

“So it was really important to us that we hold the line on our prices as much as we could, so with that in mind, there are no changes to our admission prices this year,” said Clark.

Adults will be able to get half-price tickets Sunday through Thursday and Kids 12 and under can enter for free every day of the fair.

State officials announced a $58.1 million investment to improve the property in June. Costello said livestock exhibitors will see brand new pavement near the cattle and swine barns.

“There are very heavy stock trailers using that as ingress and egress. So the paving that was done was done with that heavy traffic and heavy trailer traffic specifically in mind,” Costello said. “I think it will hold up well for years to come.”

Over 500,000 fair goers passed through the gates in 2019, before the event was canceled the following year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The iconic Butter Cow will be unveiled on Aug. 10 inside the Dairy Building. The 500-pound butter sculpture is a fan favorite every year.

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