Illinois fair facilities to be ready without major upgrades

SPRINGFIELD — Illinois officials say the fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin will be ready for summer state fairs, but that major updates await private fundraising and a state spending plan.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture said extra funds from the board that oversees state construction and repair projects are available for the department to use in an emergency, like the disruptions caused by flash flooding during the 2016 Illinois State Fair in Springfield.

The department has used $600,000 from the Capital Development Board’s emergency fund to enclose a warm-up arena before the 76th annual Midwest Charity Horse Show this week, The State Journal-Register reported.

The show traditionally has been held in the coliseum, but the 116-year-old facility was shut down for safety reasons in October. It’s expected to stay closed through the Illinois State Fair.

Poe said facilities would be ready for the state fairs in Springfield from Aug. 10 to 20, and in DuQuoin, from Aug. 25 to Sept. 4. But he said making a large dent in an estimated $180 million backlog of repairs and updates would take both private funds and a state capital budget for the first time in years.

“It’s just everyday maintenance now,” Poe said. “You drive around and look at the roofs, there are a lot of roofs that need repair.”

Rep. Sara Wojcicki Jimenez, R-Springfield, said prospects for a state capital spending plan are as uncertain as prospects for a state operating budget.

“The fairgrounds is very high on the list,” Jimenez said. “It’s definitely on the radar. The problem is there are just so many things on the radar.”

The private Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation held a fundraiser at the Springfield fairgrounds earlier this month.

–Associated Press

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