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Participation age for junior livestock shows at the Illinois State Fair will be from 8 to 21 years, by January 1.

Holly Spangler, Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer

September 21, 2015

2 Min Read

The Illinois State Fair announced in August they would expand livestock exhibitor ages in 2016 to include all young people ages 8 to 21. State Fair manager Patrick Buchen has further details on those new rules, including the following:

• Participation age for junior livestock shows will be from 8 years old to 21 years old.
• Individuals must turn 8 before January 1.
• Individuals cannot turn 21 prior to January 1.
• New age rules apply to both Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair.

Previously, junior livestock shows were limited to individuals aged 10 to 18 years, by September 1.


"Animals exhibited at the Illinois State Fair and DuQuoin State Fair are also shown at nationally recognized events. Therefore, we feel our participation age should mirror junior show rules," Buchen says. "If a young adult is able to show at a national show in Texas, Iowa or Kentucky, they should also be able to show at the Illinois and DuQuoin State Fairs."

Related: See You at the Illinois State Fair: Ag is back, baby

The measure was approved unanimously by the Illinois State Fair Advisory Board.

"We're trying to elevate the Illinois State Fair to make it like a national show," says Illinois Department of Ag Director Philip Nelson. "You can already come here and see some of the best livestock in the country. We want to do a better job of accommodating exhibitors and consumers in a venue they can be proud of."

Illinois 4-H says it is on board with the age expansion, and Illinois 4-H Director Lisa Diaz adds the age expansion will also apply to all non-livestock 4-H projects. All 4-H members will be eligible to participate based on existing county fair selection processes.

"I support expanding state fair exhibit opportunities to all of our 4-H members for both the junior livestock show and the 4-H general projects show. I have reached out to our 4-H staff across the state and feel there is broad support for this shift," says Diaz.

"Based on the membership of our organizations, the announced age change for the State Fair Junior Livestock Show in 2016 will only affect 4-H on the lower end (including 8- to 9-year-olds) and only affect FFA on the higher end (19- to 21-year-olds)," she adds.

Further good news for 4-Hers exhibiting at the state fair: the 4-H General Project Show will again be held in the Orr Building in 2016.

Related: See You at the Illinois State Fair: Everybody gets to show (next year)

To learn more about participation in junior livestock shows at the Illinois State Fair visit A list of frequently asked questions will be posted on the website to help exhibitors understand the new requirements.

About the Author(s)

Holly Spangler

Senior Editor, Prairie Farmer, Farm Progress

Holly Spangler has covered Illinois agriculture for more than two decades, bringing meaningful production agriculture experience to the magazine’s coverage. She currently serves as editor of Prairie Farmer magazine and Executive Editor for Farm Progress, managing editorial staff at six magazines throughout the eastern Corn Belt. She began her career with Prairie Farmer just before graduating from the University of Illinois in agricultural communications.

An award-winning writer and photographer, Holly is past president of the American Agricultural Editors Association. In 2015, she became only the 10th U.S. agricultural journalist to earn the Writer of Merit designation and is a five-time winner of the top writing award for editorial opinion in U.S. agriculture. She was named an AAEA Master Writer in 2005. In 2011, Holly was one of 10 recipients worldwide to receive the IFAJ-Alltech Young Leaders in Ag Journalism award. She currently serves on the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation, the U of I Agricultural Communications Advisory committee, and is an advisory board member for the U of I College of ACES Research Station at Monmouth. Her work in agricultural media has been recognized by the Illinois Soybean Association, Illinois Corn, Illinois Council on Agricultural Education and MidAmerica Croplife Association.

Holly and her husband, John, farm in western Illinois where they raise corn, soybeans and beef cattle on 2,500 acres. Their operation includes 125 head of commercial cows in a cow/calf operation. The family farm includes John’s parents and their three children.

Holly frequently speaks to a variety of groups and organizations, sharing the heart, soul and science of agriculture. She and her husband are active in state and local farm organizations. They serve with their local 4-H and FFA programs, their school district, and are active in their church's youth and music ministries.

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