SPRINGFIELD – August 30, 2011. Governor Pat Quinn today highlighted the success of the record-breaking 2011 Illinois State Fair, “We’ve Got a Good Thing Growing.” Attendance increased by 10 percent this year, with 817,393 fairgoers visiting the 11-day event. In addition to offering families affordable entertainment, the fair showcases the best in Illinois agricultural products, from livestock to wine, produce and agricultural technology.
“Illinois has a proud agricultural heritage, and agri-business is key to our long-term economic growth,” said Governor Quinn. “This year, record numbers of families came to the fair to enjoy affordable entertainment, food and to learn about the importance of agriculture to our state’s history – and our future. The state fair is a tradition that will be around for years to come.”
The state fair began 158 years ago as a way for Illinois farmers to showcase their labor. The fair continues to feature Illinois livestock, as well as produce and other Illinois products at the Farmers’ Market Tent. This year saw a 10 percent increase in attendance, with more than 817,000 individuals visiting the fair – up by more than 74,000 last year. In fact, this year’s attendance levels were the highest since 2002.
“I thank fairgoers for coming out to support the fair,” Agriculture Director Tom Jennings said. “It’s their support that has made the Illinois State Fair a premiere summer festival. To borrow this year’s theme, we really do ‘Have a Good Thing Growing’.”
Governor Quinn this year hosted the Governor’s Sale of Champions, the annual auction of prize-winning junior livestock, with proceeds going toward scholarships and the state’s 4-H and FFA youth education programs. The grand champion junior steer shown by Sherman teenager Austin Burris sold for a record $51,200, surpassing the previous high of $50,100. It was one of three record prices at the sale: the grand champion sheep ($12,500) and Land of Lincoln barrow ($10,100). The event raised $135,200, not only for the youths who raised the animals, but also for the state’s 4-H and FFA youth education programs.
Records were not only set in the livestock arena: music fans flocked to the fair en masse to enjoy the affordable entertainment available at the Grandstand. Country music star Jason Aldean attracted a record 15,329 people. Aldean’s ticket sales surpassed the previous record set in 1995 by Hootie and the Blowfish. Collectively, the Grandstand performers, who ranged from comedian Jeff Dunham to rap icon MC Hammer, sold 49,649 tickets, the highest sales in 11 years.