4-H to Conduct Survey at Mercer County Fair that will document economic impact of county fairs

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

Agricultural county fairs have a long tradition in Illinois, but the impact goes far beyond delightful squeals from children on the Tilt-A-World and sticky fingers from cotton candy. In a cooperative effort, University of Illinois Extension and the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs, fair-goers in 15 counties will be surveyed to assess the economic impact of Illinois’ agricultural fairs.

The report will address the money spent by fair attendees, as well as non-economic impacts of annual fairs. The selected counties include Mercer which will take place at the Mercer County Fair in Aledo, IL July 6-12, 2014. Other counties include Adams, Champaign, Clark, DeKalb, Fayette, Greene, Hamilton, Lake, Mason, Massac, Marshall, Monroe, Richland and Whiteside.

Trained 4-H youth surveyors will ask a percentage of fair-goers to complete a survey which will collect information about the fair attendee’s spending habits at the fair, their reason for attending and other information which will help assess the value of local agricultural fairs. Youth will also assist in presenting the results to the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs during its 2015 annual conference.

In addition to the blind surveys, key members of the county fair experience, including fair board members, livestock superintendents, carnival operators, exhibitors and vendors, will be interviewed.

“Illinois 4-H is proud to assist in this economic development project with the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs,” said Bill Million, U of I 4-H Youth Development Extension Specialist. “4-H has a long-standing tradition of teamwork with our local county fairs, and we support the value of the fair experience.”

“In addition, 4-H youth will gain valuable experience in research methods, data analysis and public presentation skills, Million said.”