Illinois State Fair

flickr/Stephen Woods

The Illinois Department of Agriculture is banning out-of-state birds from exhibitions and fairs around the state to help stem the spread of a deadly bird flu that's hit nearby states.  

The restriction announced Friday includes county fairs, FFA and 4-H fairs and the state fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin.  

The agency says the bird flu hasn't yet been detected in Illinois. Agency director Philip Nelson says the restrictions are meant to protect the Illinois poultry industry and allow youths to show livestock at county and fairs this summer.  

Tim Landis and Bill Wheelhouse discuss the appointment of a new state fair director and what his charge may be.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, taffy and politics at the Illinois State Fair.

Hannah Meisel

Politicians are supposed to apologize when they mess up, but typically that doesn't involve saying "I'm sorry" to cows. That's what Governor Pat Quinn says his opponent's running mate needs to do.

Before Republican Bruce Rauner asked her to be his running mate, attorney Evelyn Sanguinetti had made inquiries about getting a job with the state.

Lee Enterprises newspaper reporter Kurt Erickson uncovered that inquiry; which was made via email, to state employee whom Sanguinetti supposedly went to law school with.

Hannah Meisel

  With summer coming to an end, and the November election getting ever closer, Gov. Pat Quinn and other Illinois Democrats gathered Wednesday in Springfield, for an annual party meeting and rally. But Thursday, Republicans had their day. The GOP hopes it'll be their year.

There's no "normal" way to get to the area on the Illinois State Fairgrounds where Republicans had their gathering.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  Former Illinois Governor Jim Edgar says he's all in for Republican gubernatorial candidate Bruce Rauner.

Edgar says the Democratic agenda offers more of the same policies voters have seen for the past decade. He even equated Gov. Pat Quinn's tenure to former Gov. Rod Blagojevich, who is now serving a 14-year term in federal prison.

"The Blagojevich-Quinn governorship has been a disaster for Illinois," he said. "We have an opportunity this November to end one-party rule by electing Bruce Rauner the governor of Illinois."

Amanda Vinicky

Even as states like Ohio, Iowa and Wisconsin are known as political battlegrounds and bellwethers, Illinois has the reputation for being a solid "blue" state. Illinois sends double as many Democrats to Washington as it does Congressional Republicans. The state legislature tips heavily in favor of Democrats, who hold veto-proof majorities. And it has been more than a decade since a Republican last sat in Illinois' governor's seat.

Amanda Vinicky

For most of the thousands of people who go to the Illinois State Fair each summer, it's about fun -- the carnival rides, and corn dogs. But for others it's about competition. There are awards given for everything from longest ponytail to -- feminists, beware! --husband-calling. Not to mention the livestock events, which crown the best of the breeds. But what grabbed my attention was the "hobbies," where bakers, crafters and collectors have their chance at glory. First, they have to win over the judges.

WUIS

The Illinois State Fair has postponed Monday's harness races because of unfavorable track conditions.  
The races will now be run Wednesday starting at noon.  

Nearly three dozen horses were quarantined briefly over the weekend because of concerns they may have been exposed to a virus.  
The (Springfield) State Journal-Register reports that officials lifted the quarantine Saturday, after the animals were cleared of having the equine herpes virus.

Hannah Meisel/WUIS

  With the Illinois State Fair set to begin later this week, officials say they have safety in the forefront of their minds. The event, which attracts nearly 1 million visitors yearly, is set to open Friday morning ... though anyone can get an early preview Thursday evening after the annual opening parade.

State Week logo
Dan LoGrasso / WUIS

This week, discussion of the so-called "Millionaire's Tax" advisory referendum on the November ballot.  Also, ethics violations at the State Fair.

Peter Gray

The manager of the Illinois State Fair insists she did not personally consume more than 500 dollars worth of beer tickets she accepted last year. The violation resulted in a thousand dollar fine from a state ethics panel.

At a press event a week before the opening of the annual fair, Amy Bliefnick promoted the ongoing remodeling and landscaping taking place on the fairgrounds.

But her smiled faded when reporters asked about a recent state ethics investigation ... which said it was illegal to accept the beer tickets from a fair vendor.

Flickr/aka_kath

  Two individuals are being fined for violating ethics rules in their capacities of running Illinois' two State Fairs. Both incidents involved free beer tickets.

The state's Executive Inspector General found John Rednour Jr., the former manager of the DuQuoin State Fair, guilty of soliciting free beer tickets from a vendor in 2012. According to a report, Rednour asked for "a roll or two" of beer tickets. The tickets were valued at $4 each, which would total $4,000 to $8,000, but the vendor did not comply.

Wikimedia Commons

  Illinois' two state fairs did not comply with the law last year, according to a recent state audit -- and budget realities mean that'll happen again this summer.

The audit found that both the fairs in Springfield and DuQuoin overcharged entrance fees for horses.

But the Department of Agriculture says it's a consequence of the state contributing 200-thousand dollars $200,000 less toward the purse.

The audit also found that the DuQuoin fair only held three out of the five prescribed days of horse racing.

Robin Thicke Coming To Illinois State Fair

Jun 5, 2014
Robin Thicke
the artist

Pop singer Robin Thicke will perform Sunday, Aug. 17 at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand.

The booking, announced Thursday, is the latest in a lineup that already includes Florida Georgia Line, Jake Owen, Steely Dan, and Pitbull.

Thicke is known for hits such as "Blurred Lines," "Lost Without U," and "Give It 2 U."

Steely Dan.com

Grammy Award-winning rock band Steely Dan will play this year's Illinois State Fair.  

State officials made the announcement on Monday afternoon. They say the band will play its ``Jamalot Ever After'' tour at the fair on Aug. 15. Steely Dan had a string of hits during the 1970's. They won a Grammy in 2000 for Album of the Year.  

Tickets will go on sale for the show May 3.

The fair runs from Aug. 7 to 17 in Springfield. Other acts this year include country singers Jake Owen and Hunter Hayes, Florida Georgia Line and Boston. 

Dr. Dohner Fan Page/Facebook

Dr. Russell Dohner of Rushville is among the latest inductees to the Illinois Department on Aging’s Senior Hall of Fame

The 88-year-old physician has treated patients in west central Illinois since 1955.  He still makes house calls, patient rounds at the local hospital and nursing home, and is known to charge patients only $5.00 for the entire cost of visits. Dohner served as the 2013 Illinois State Fair Parade Grand Marshal.

From the Dept. on Aging: 

Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade.  
The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month.  
That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.  

State Fairs: A Summer Tradition

Aug 16, 2013
Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

It’s August. The days are growing shorter, fall is approaching, but summer isn’t done just yet. All over the country folks are flocking to that ultimate summer tradition: the state fair.

Carnival rides and games, meat on a stick, livestock competitions – the Midwest does state fairs up right. And for many, summer in the Midwest isn't complete without a trip to the state fair. For others, a virtual visit will have to do.

Amanda Vinicky/WUIS

 A year-and-a-half after his stroke, U.S. Senator Mark Kirk returned to central Illinois for the first time this week.  Members of his party gave him a warm welcome at a Republican rally Thursday at the Illinois State Fair. 

Senator Kirk made his way slowly across the stage, aided by a cane. It has been a long, slow, partial recovery since his stroke last January.

Bill Wheelhouse/Harvest Public Media

Organizers of the Illinois State Fair say they're not changing security procedures after vandals threw paint on a butter cow at the state fair in Iowa. 
Jeff Squibb is a spokesman for the Illinois Department of Agriculture. 
He tells The Pantagraph (http://bit.ly/1cB7iD1 ) that a refrigerated case holding the butter bovine is locked all the time in the fair's Dairy Building, while a webcam streams live images of the sculpture. 

Lincolns looking at Quinn
Brian Mackey/WUIS

The Illinois State Fair officially got underway Friday morning.

Based on the evidence Friday morning on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, it's never too early for fried mini-doughnuts.

Vendors were selling all manner of-deep fried delights, patrons were crowding parking lots, and dignitaries were cutting a red, white, and blue ribbon to mark the official opening of the 2013 fair.

Head-East.com

The band Head East grew out of central and southern Illinois and made it's way to a major label.  In 1974, Head East recorded Flat As A Pancake at Golden Voice Studios in South Pekin.  They released it on their own label, sold it at shows and the notoriety that followed got them a record deal.  From the highs of playing sold out arenas in the 70's to the end of the original lineup, Head East has remained.

Dr. Dohner Fan Page/Facebook

From Governor's news release:

The 2013 Illinois State Fair in Springfield runs August 8th through the 18th.

Peter Gray joined Rachel Otwell on Illinois Edition with a few highlights of the fair this year, including the grandstand's new VIP section for fans who want to avoid long lines but want to be as close to the stage as possible: 

The State Fair's mobile site can be accessed HERE