Illinois county fairs still popular with changing populace
Nat Williams, Field Editor
Wednesday, April 30,2014
SPRINGFIELD, Ill. — In January, Ron Meyer of Manteno began a two-year term as president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs. Meyer also serves as president of the Will County Fair, where he has been involved for 37 years.
In a recent interview with AgriNews, Meyer discussed the makeup and mission of the association. He also spoke about how county fairs have stayed the same over the years and how they have changed.
Q: Does the IAAF represent only county fairs or are the two state fairs — Springfield and Du Quoin — part of its province?
A: We represent only county fairs, all 103 of them.
Q: How can there be 103 county fairs when there are only 102 counties in the state?
A: Some counties have more than one fair. In Livingston County, for instance, there are three: the 4-H fair in Pontiac, the junior fair in Collom and the regular county fair at Fairbury. Some counties don’t have a county fair per se; there are a couple of counties that go together.
Q: What is the general makeup of IAAF? And what is the association’s purpose?
A: The state of Illinois is made up of three zones: northern, central and southern. They each have a board of directors. Each zone has two directors on the board and one director at large. The past president serves for two years after the term is over.
We represent every county fair within the state of Illinois. We don’t try to run the fairs for them. Everyone has their own way to do things. If they have a problem, they come to the state association, and we try to help them correct it, whether it’s through rules writing or the Legislature.
We’re behind every county fair. We want to make every county fair as successful as it can possibly be. We have our own lobbyist now, too. The fair funding is getting quite critical.