SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick today outlined some of the changes made for the 2006 fair and welcomed back many traditions as part of Press Preview Day. The State Fair begins Friday, Aug. 11, and runs through Sunday, Aug. 20. The Twilight Parade will be held Thursday evening, Aug. 10.
“Each year we try to make a few changes around the fair to keep the tradition exciting and fresh,” Bliefnick said. “I’m excited about the additions made to the fair this year. They’re intended to draw new visitors to Springfield and offer something fresh to fairgoers that visit us year after year.”
2006 State Fair Attractions include:
• Hometown Pride: Located inside Gate 2 on the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Hometown Pride is an opportunity for communities across Illinois to showcase the best their city has to offer to thousands of guests from across the state and the Midwest. Each day will feature a different city. Leaders from Decatur, Champaign, Quincy, Effingham, Kankakee, Jacksonville, Galesburg, Bloomington and the Southernmost Illinois Convention and Tourism Bureau will highlight their history, industry and tourism.
• Sale of Champions Expanded: For the first time in the 154-year history of the fair, meat goats will be added to the sale as well as a new category of grand champions. The Land of Lincoln grand champion steer, barrow and wether will be auctioned off. Land of Lincoln certified livestock are bred, born, owned and exhibited by a resident of the state of Illinois. Changes to the sale have been made to reflect industry growth and showcase more of what the livestock industry has to offer.
• The Jungle Attractions: Located just inside the Main Gate, The Jungle will feature several new animal attractions this year. Additions include Close Encounters of the Exotic Kind, a mix of Royal Bengal tigers and African lions; Great Little Bear Show, featuring three North American black bears; and Live Shark Encounter, a shark show in which divers get into a tank and feed sharks.
• Horseshoe Eating Contest: Located on the Lincoln Stage, GoldenPalace.net will bring the first-ever horseshoe eating championship to the Illinois State Fair on Saturday, Aug. 12. GoldenPalace.net has placed a total purse of $4,000 on this Major League Eating ™ event, an official stop on the 2006 World Series of Competitive Eating.
• Drive in Movie: A fun oasis themed like a classic drive-in movie that encourages visitors to sit down and relax for a few minutes while enjoying a cartoon on the Big Screen in the Hometown Pride area. Fairgoers can get their picture taken in one of three dream cars from another decade as they park and watch four cartoons featuring Bugs Bunny, Roadrunner and friends.
• Maximum Velocity Stunt Show: Located in the Hometown Pride area, this fast action on two and four wheels will certainly entertain all ages and have everyone screaming for more. Maximum Velocity is a professional bicycle, skateboard and in-line stunt team featuring the hottest riders and skaters in their sport. These expert daredevils perform such maneuvers as "540's," "tail whips," "ice picks," and "tooth picks" – soaring high above a 13-foot-tall, 16-foot-wide half pipe -- one of the largest portable half pipes in the world. Also featured is a four-foot-high, 22-foot-long box jump from which riders perform even more in-line and bike-bending wizardry, pulling off "back flips," "front flips," "360's," "720's" and other stunts.
• We’re Recycling: The Illinois Department of Agriculture is teaming up with the Lt. Governor’s Office and the Illinois Green Government Coordinating Council in an effort to bring recycling to the 2006 Illinois State Fair. I-Cycle, the state’s recycling entity, is providing 50 recycling bins for aluminum and plastic bottles that will be placed around the fairgrounds. This is a pilot project that will be used to determine if recycling efforts at the State Fair can be expanded in the future.
• White Sox Baseball Trophy: Continuing the celebration of the White Sox World Series Championship, the White Sox and U.S. Cellular are bringing the 2005 World Series Trophy to the Illinois State Fair. The authentic World Series trophy will be on display Saturday, Aug. 19 in the U.S. Cellular tent across from the Emmerson building on Main St. from 1:00 - 4:00 p.m. The visit is part of a 45 city tour across Illinois and Northwest Indiana.
• Professional Rodeo Cowboy’s Association: There will be two separate professional rodeo competitions in the Arena during the 2006 Illinois State Fair featuring seven events: bareback riding, steer wrestling, calf roping, saddle bronc riding, WPRA barrel racing, team roping and bull riding. The shows will take place Friday, Aug. 18, at 6:00 p.m. and Saturday, Aug. 19, at 8:00 p.m.
• Harness Racing and Tractor Pull Events Expanded: Twilight Harness Horse Racing has been expanded to three evenings from two and will be held Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday in the Grandstand. The truck and tractor pull also will be expanded to three nights from a day and a half and moved from the Grandstand to the Arena.