Preparing for the Illinois State Fair

Published: Aug. 4, 2022 at 4:57 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD (WGEM) - Corn dogs, music, and rides....oh my! The wait is almost over as the 2022 Illinois State Fair starts next Thursday.

This year’s theme is “Grow With Us” and the Illinois Department of Agriculture has been busy with work around the fairgrounds. State Fair Manager Rebecca Clark says admission prices will stay the same as last year. 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.

“We really tried to be cognisant of higher gas prices, the higher fuel prices, the higher food prices, and the overall higher cost of living that everyone is experiencing right now,” Clark said. “So, it was really important to us that we hold the line on our prices as much as possible.”

But anyone who has walked around the fairgrounds in August heat knows you also want to get a treat and something cool to drink. Clark said the fair’s “Feeding Frenzy” is back in 2022 for people to get discounted food from participating vendors from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

There will also be a brand new option for anyone wanting to explore the best food from across the world. You can try a sample-sized item from each of the Village of Cultures vendors for $3 during the “Small Plates, Big Tastes” promotion daily. The State Fair team modeled this idea off of traditional Spanish tapas.

“Everybody loves to talk about fair food, right? So we hope our fairgoers will support our fair food vendors and make this an experience that they enjoy as well,” Clark said. “Without our fair food vendors, these fairgrounds really would look a lot different.”

Fans of Jurrasic Park will enjoy a new exhibit with lifelike creatures from prehistoric times. Dino Don is bringing two dozen animatronic dinosaurs to the fair’s Happy Hollow. People can meet their favorite T-Rex, stegosaurus, or triceratops for $8.

Crews are finishing their work behind the scenes to ensure the fairgrounds are ready for people to return for their favorite summer event in Springfield. The Pritzker administration announced a $58.1 million investment to improve the property in June. Illinois Agriculture Director Jerry 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.”

After the fair ends, crews will continue a major renovation of the fair’s colosseum. Costello said there will be new seating, restrooms, and an elevator added to the historic building. He explained a new H-VAC system will also be added to allow for events to be held year-round at the venue.

The iconic Butter Cow will be unveiled at 3 p.m. on Aug. 10 inside the Dairy Building. The famous 500-pound butter sculpture is a fan favorite every year.

Gov. JB Pritzker, First Lady MK Pritzker, and Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton will join Costello for the 2022 State Fair ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 11. You can watch the ceremony outside the main gate near Sangamon Avenue around 3 p.m. The annual Twilight parade kicks off just hours later at 5:30.

Aug. 12 is the county fair and horse racing day and Aug. 13 is all about the kids. Veterans and Gold Star families will be recognized on Aug. 14. Meanwhile, the Illinois Department of Aging will host senior day at the State Fair on Aug. 15. Ag day is set for Aug. 16 and the Democratic Party of Illinois will host the governor’s day on Aug. 17. Republican day is Aug.18 and first responders will be recognized on Aug. 19. The fair wraps up the 2022 season with park district day on Aug. 20 and family day on Aug. 21.

“We are going to have an incredible 2022 Fair. I would also encourage you to look at the forecast right now for the first weekend,” Costello said. “It’s supposed to be incredible. So, let’s hope that it maintains.”

You can find more information about this year’s fair by clicking here.

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