SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) — County fairs across Illinois are reassessing their finances as the state reduces its support in a cost-saving measure.
A recent letter from Republican Gov. Bruce Rauner’s administration instructed county fairs to stop spending state money on rehabilitation, which includes some maintenance, construction and insurance costs, Springfield’s State Journal-Register reported over the weekend.
Out of just over 100 county fairs in Illinois, the state allotted 92 a maximum of $13,250 each, or a total of around $1.3 million, according to the agriculture 2014 Rehabilitation Fund Report.
The notice in Wednesday’s letter likely wasn’t a shock to fair organizers. Macoupin County Fair Board President Mark Dugger said he has assumed state grants could be further curtailed.
“Our philosophy for the last several years has been (state aid) is the icing and not the cake as far as our funding goes,” he said. “We’ve been planning that eventually this day would come.”
State aid comprises about 10 percent of the Christian County Fair, said its board treasurer, Alan Fulk. Jim Olive, the board’s president, said Christian County fairgrounds need a new hog barn but that cutbacks may make that financially unfeasible.
Elizabeth McDevitt, of the Sangamon County Fair and Agriculture Association said the funding suspension doesn’t affect the New Berlin event. It is one of 12 county fairs that get assistance via a fair exhibition fund rather than through the rehabilitation fund.
Wednesday’s letter didn’t say if premium state funding, which goes toward prize money, might also be subject to cuts.
Responding to the freeze on state money for rehabilitation, the secretary for the Logan County Fair Association, Mike Maske, said donations may have to make up for losses of state money. He also said he and his fellow fair organizers have already tightened up their finances.
“We do what we have to do,” Maske said, “and we’re going to weather this.”