Contractors working to update Illinois’ state fairgrounds in Springfield and Du Quoin have been set back by rain, just like farmers.
Warren Goetsch, deputy director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, says they nonetheless expect the Coliseum of Champions at the Springfield site to be completed in time for the Illinois State Fair in August.
While the recently renamed building was condemned in 2016 and has since stopped hosting several large horse shows, Goetsch says structural improvements, such as reinforcing support columns, were already complete in June.
“The challenge is that now that the structural improvements are complete, there’s a lot of strings to be tied here at the end,” Goetsch says, adding that reroofing is being finished on the midroof, and work on the separate upper roof will begin soon.
Work is being done to reinstall fans, windows, electrical components and lighting, and then the sizable chunk of surface that was removed from the coliseum for upgrades will have to be painted.
“You really have to take your hats off to the contractors here that have worked on the coliseum,” Goetsch says. “When they were getting close to getting behind, they were great at looking for ways to make that time up. Those guys have just done a fantastic job keeping the construction activities on schedule, despite this year being somewhat of a challenge.”
He says the dairy building at the Springfield grounds is also scheduled to have a new roof ahead of the fair. Repaving parking lots and roads will have to wait until after the fair in the capital, though Goetsch says the Du Quoin fairgrounds will be repaved in time for that fair.
“We were hoping to get more road work done before the Springfield fair, but scheduling didn’t allow that,” he says of the Illinois Department of Transportation crew that travels the state.
Goetsch says IDOA also plans to reopen the bathrooms in the Junior Livestock Building ahead of the 2019 Illinois State Fair.
The Illinois State Fairgrounds Foundation is funding reroofing, brick tuckpointing and interior work on the most westerly of the 25 Series barns in Springfield, 25Q. Goetsch says this work will hopefully be completed by August.
Of the 16 barns, one will be updated each year for five years under the foundation grant, though capital appropriations funding will be used to reroof all the barns.
“We are hopeful either more money from the foundation will come along, or we’ll work with our capital development board to see what we can do to continue the rehab process for this very important series of barns here on the fairgrounds,” Goetsch concludes.