Illinois State Fair Attendance Increases 13 Percent; Highest in 10 Years

Staff Writer
Aledo Times Record

August 21, 2012. 2012 was a banner year for the Illinois State Fair.

Attendance soared 13 percent this year. According to newly released figures from state fair officials, 918,875 people passed through the gates during the fair, which is 103,275 more than a year ago and the most since 2002. The fair concluded on Sunday.

"This was a great fair," Governor Pat Quinn said. "Every year our State Fair team makes Illinois proud. Special thanks to State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick, Agriculture Director Bob Flider and everybody who visited the fairgrounds, especially the buyers who demonstrated their commitment to Illinois agriculture during this difficult time for the industry."

Grandstand attendance was up four percent, thanks to strong sales from country stars Eric Church and Miranda Lambert. Church's concert on opening night of the fair drew 12,643 spectators, and Lambert's show on the final Saturday drew 10,103. Collectively, the acts sold 51,732 tickets, the most in 12 years. Several records were set during the 11-day run of the fair as well.

The grand champion junior steer shown by Seaton teenager A.J. Line sold for a record $52,000, surpassing the previous high of $51,200. It was one of five record prices fetched at the Sale of Champions, the auction of prize-winning Illinois State Fair junior livestock. The grand champion barrow ($24,500), grand champion sheep ($17,200), Land of Lincoln barrow ($11,000) and Land of Lincoln Supreme Dairy Champion ($3,000) were the other record-setters. The event raised $159,210, not only for the youngsters who raised the animals, but also for the state's 4-H and FFA youth education programs.

"While the attendance is gratifying and makes the effort that goes into putting on the event worthwhile, it's what can't be quantified -- the lasting memories the fair creates, that is most important. The families who attended this year likely will never forget their trip to Springfield," Acting Agriculture Director Bob Flider said. "It's those memories that I hope will keep them coming back for years to come."

Preliminary, unaudited figures indicate revenue from admissions and parking also was up, increasing 33 percent to $1.5 million.