Illinois State Fair Kicks Off Next Friday
Illinois State Fair Kicks Off Next Friday

Springfield’s north end is about to welcome close to a million people. State Fair time is coming.

The fair runs August 9-18, with the Twilight Parade and Preview Night Aug. 8.

The theme is “Where Illinois Comes Together,” and you can expect Illinois to come together with fewer golf carts. There will be a restriction on the carts after 10 a. m. on fair days.

“The Minnesota State Fair has 1.6 million people, and their acreage is about the same size as ours,” says Illinois State Fair manager Amy Bliefnick, “and I walked for three days and did not have anyone at anytime ask me to get out of the way for their golf cart. It was such a pleasant experience, and that’s the experience we want for our 900,000 fairgoers who walk the fairgrounds.”

Adult admission is $7, as is official parking. Grandstand entertainment includes Toby Keith, REO Speedwagon, John Mayer, and Ke$ha.

Also new this year is an increased push to revitalize Happy Hollow — an underutilzed, crumbling concrete area that used to be one of the fair’s focal points.

Bliefnick and Joe Khayyat of the Illinois Green Industry Association unveiled three sets of plans for Happy Hollow, which is now a crumbling, underutilized concrete area that organizers are trying to revitalize.

“There are budget problems and concerns,” says Khayyat. “But there are also generous sponsors and other opportunities. But by having a master plan and a road map, and having gone through this process, what we will be able to do is possibly implement one piece at a time until we do have a new Happy Hollow.”

Fairgoers will get to look at all three plans and choose their favorites. Khayyat says the final blueprint will likely incorporate elements from all three.