SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Tom Jennings and Illinois State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick today announced the theme for the 2010 Illinois State Fair. This year’s theme, “Cream of the Crop,” pays tribute to Illinois’ agricultural heritage. The Illinois State Fair began 157 years ago to support the state’s farmers and remains a celebration of our state’s top industry to this day.
“This year’s fair will showcase Illinois’ agricultural roots while also recognizing Illinois farmers for being the cream of the crop, the best of the best,” Bliefnick said. “Illinois farmers are among the most efficient and productive in the United States. Illinois ranks second among all states in the production of both corn and soybeans, fourth in the production of pork and twenty-second in the production of beef.”
A new attraction to this years’ fair, “Farmer’s Little Helpers,” will teach kids about Illinois’ premier agriculture industry. “Farmer’s Little Helpers” is an interactive, children’s education exhibit near Gate 2. The mock farm consists of a series of miniature barns, a corn crib, harvest and seed gardens, a farmers’ market and a grocery store. Each building provides hands-on activities related to the agricultural process.
“I’m very excited about ‘Farmer’s Little Helpers’ and would like to thank all the sponsors for their support. Without them, none of this would be possible,” Bliefnick added.
The Illinois Corn Marketing Board, Illinois Soybean Association, County Market (Niemann Foods) and Grain Systems Inc. (GSI) are major sponsors of the exhibit.
“This exhibit allows a glimpse into the work of family farmers in Illinois. More than that, we hope that by visiting this exhibit children and adults will feel a direct connection to the farm, the farmers and their families, and to the food we grow here. It’s about building a positive, fun memory with each child that visits ‘Farmers’ Little Helpers,’” Donna Jeschke, a corn farmer from Mazon and past-chairman of the Illinois Corn Marketing Board, said.
“The Illinois Soybean Association is proud to be involved with the new ‘Farmer’s Little Helpers’ exhibit at the Illinois State Fair. We feel this is a great opportunity to show visitors the connection between soybeans grown by Illinois farmers, livestock raised throughout our state and the food people eat,” Illinois Soybean Association Secretary Doug Winter, a farmer from Mill Shoals, added.
Other sponsors include the American Egg Board, Brandt Consolidated, Corn Products International, Illinois Beef Association, Illinois Pork Producers Association, Illinois Farm Bureau, Illinois Standardbred Owners and Breeders Association, Midwest Dairy Association and USDA Farm Service Agency. The United Brotherhood of Carpenters Local 16 and Local 742 are donating valuable expertise toward the construction of new buildings for the exhibit.
The 2010 Illinois State Fair will be held Aug. 13-22.