SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – In keeping with its theme, “Celebrate and Educate,” the Illinois State Fair has selected five individuals in the field of education as this year’s Twilight Parade grand marshals. State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick made the announcement today during Press Preview Day at the fairgrounds.
“Whether it is dedicating their time in the classroom, helping to ensure the most qualified teachers are being hired, or providing leadership for Illinois school districts, all of these individuals have been instrumental in shaping the educational climate in Illinois. Today we’re proud to honor these individuals as State Fair grand marshals and join in celebration of all of the people who dedicate their time to educate our youth,” Bliefnick said.
The 2007 Grand Marshals include:
• Dr. Christopher Koch, State Superintendent of Education
• Jesse Ruiz, Chairman, Illinois State Board of Education
• Ed Geppert, President, Illinois Federation of Teachers
• Ken Swanson, President, Illinois Education Association
• Joe Fatheree, 2007 Illinois Teacher of the Year
“This year’s theme encompasses the best of what the state fair has to offer, highlighting the educational offerings as well as celebrating the state’s rich heritage. What better way to represent the theme of Celebrate and Educate than to honor these five individuals as grand marshals for their efforts in the field of education,” Illinois Agriculture Director Chuck Hartke added.
The Grand Marshals will lead the Twilight Parade, which begins at 6 p.m. on Thurs., Aug. 9. Parade participants will step off from the corner of Ninth Street and North Grand Avenue and travel down Ninth to the fairgrounds’ Main Gate. The parade will follow Main Street through the fairgrounds to Grandstand Avenue, before concluding at the north end of the Grandstand.
Admission to the fairgrounds will be free that evening.
Besides honoring those who excel in the field of education, the fair will provide a number of educational opportunities for fairgoers, including:
• A podcast tour of the fairgrounds’ historic buildings. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency produced this electronic history lesson, which is downloaded onto personal MP3 players and takes listeners on a narrated walking tour of 12 historic fair buildings.
• Live power line demonstrations. Sponsored by the Illinois Electric Council’s Safe Electricity program, the demonstrations teach valuable lessons to prevent electrical accidents and fires.
• The Illinois Pork Producers Association’s farrowing center. The center gives fairgoers a chance to watch the birth of baby piglets.
• The Kids Activity Tent. The tent offers children tips about proper fitness and nutrition.
• The Senior Center. Sponsored by the Illinois Department on Aging, the center provides free health screenings and information about Illinois Cares Rx, the state prescription drug program.
• The Jungle. This exhibit in the former Happy Hollow features educational animal shows with alligators, bears, sharks, lions, tigers and elephants.
• The Illinois Department of Transportation’s Division of Traffic Safety booth. The booth includes a video arcade that promotes traffic safety, a trivia game that reinforces good driving habits and instructional videos that teach proper child passenger safety and promote safety belt usage.
• The Illinois Department of Agriculture tent. Among other things, the tent includes free samples of Illinois food products to raise awareness about the economic importance of the state’s food processing industry.
• The Illinois State Fire Marshal’s Firehouse Museum. The museum teaches adults and children alike about fire safety.
• Conservation World. This area, sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, offers free shows and hands-on activities that educate visitors about outdoor recreational opportunities and the state’s natural resources.
• Hometown Pride. Each day of the fair, a different Illinois community will have a chance to highlight the activities, events and services its community has to offer.
• Campus Town. This exhibit allows students and their parents to learn about the educational offerings at state colleges and universities.
The Illinois State Fair will run Aug. 10 through Aug. 19. For more information, please visit www.illinoisstatefair.info.