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Saturday, May 21, 2011

State cuts to impact area county fairs

Friday, May 20, 2011


County fair organizers throughout North Central Illinois are finding creative ways to keep their summer pastimes going as state lawmakers continue to propose funding cuts to state and local fairs.

Among the budget cuts in the latest spending proposal out of Springfield is a nearly 10 percent cut to local and state fair budgets. The Illinois Department of Agriculture, which pays for the Illinois State Fair in Springfield and DuQuoin State Fair in DuQuoin, also helps to support dozens of local fairs in counties statewide.Gov. Pat Quinn’s budget proposal set aside $900,000 for county fair distribution. The state House proposal increases that amount by $900. The state Senate budget plan, however, trims the governor’s budget to $675,700. Either way, fair organizers throughout the area anticipated the cuts.“The Department of Ag has been telling us that this was coming,” said Jovanna Kocher, president of the Marshall-Putnam Fair Board. “We (the Marshall-Putnam Fair Board) have been proactive. The board has been very conservative in its spending habits.”Providing a quality, affordable fair for people remains a high priority for the board, the office staff and all the volunteers who help with the fair. Kocher said people still don’t have to pay to enter and park at the fairgrounds.“The secret to the success of our county fair is the three C’s — community, commitment and cooperation,” Kocher said.To trim costs in the future the board may have to look at relying more heavily upon volunteers, Kocher said. Carol Ramer and other members of the Tri-County Fair board of directors also aren’t surprised to learn there will be even less money in the state’s fair budget again this year.

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