Fairgrounds Foundation Bill a Win for Taxpayers

Governor Bruce Rauner joined Acting Director of Agriculture Raymond Poe and other local elected officials to discuss his support for the Fairgrounds Foundation bill (HB 4990/SB 2903). The bill – that has bipartisan support – creates a foundation that allows private donors to support and maintain the fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin.

"The Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairs are vitally important to our agriculture community and the local economies of both cities," Governor Rauner said. "By creating a private foundation, companies and citizens will be able to donate directly to the fair to help maintain the grounds without any additional burden on the state."

Nearly every neighboring state to Illinois has established foundations with the purpose of accepting private funds for their State Fairs or Fairgrounds. Similar measures have been introduced in the Illinois General Assembly for a number of years, but failed to advance.

"Fairground Foundations are not a new concept, and Illinois companies are donating money to those out-of-state foundations. We should be doing everything we can to keep that money in our state for our fairs," said Raymond Poe, the Acting Director of the Department of Agriculture. "I sponsored legislation like this during my time in the House of Representatives, and I’m pleased to see my former colleagues continue to fight for it."

Currently more than $180 million in deferred maintenance are needed at both the Springfield and DuQuoin fairgrounds. Many buildings are in need of significant repairs, including 20 roof replacements in Springfield, electrical upgrades and repairs to the Grandstand.

"The fact that I live just a few blocks from the State Fairgrounds, I know first-hand the positive impact the fairgrounds have on the city of Springfield," State Representative Tim Butler (R-Springfield) said. "I fully support creating a foundation with the mission to raise private funds to improve the infrastructure as well as promote the use of the Fairgrounds. I anticipate the public-private partnership will help bring more activities and tourism to the region."

"The State Fairgrounds do more than support the fair; they are used year round to host the number of events that come to Springfield and Sangamon County, which pay dividends into the local economy," State Representative Sara Wojcicki Jimenez (R-Leland Grove) said. "This legislation will allow us to preserve the fairgrounds for the fair, as well as attract more events to the area that will positively benefit our community."

"With my experience serving on various not-for-profit boards, a foundation is key in assisting with additional resources that are needed to ensure success," Springfield Mayor Jim Langfelder said. "To be progressive in today's economy, it is important to maximize resource opportunities."