Sponsored By
Prairie Farmer Logo

Pritzker announces $800,000 fairgrounds donationPritzker announces $800,000 fairgrounds donation

The money comes from Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s inauguration ticket sales and will be used to repair major buildings at the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

Austin Keating

January 30, 2019

2 Min Read
Gov. J.B. Pritzker and Ag Director John Sullivan
DONATION: Gov. J.B Pritzker (left) announces a donation to the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation raised from inauguration ticket sales, as Director of Agriculture John Sullivan looks on.

Gov. J.B. Pritzker is donating $800,000 to the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation with revenue raised from inauguration ticket sales.

Pritzker announced the donation at a press conference with the new director of the Illinois Department of Agriculture, John Sullivan, at the department’s Springfield offices. The donation will be used by the foundation to make repairs and other improvements at the Springfield and Du Quoin state fairground sites.

“We can put that money to good use,” Sullivan said.

“We divided the money that we were giving to charitable organizations between the foundation here as well as Cabrini Green Legal Aid, so they’re also receiving a check for $800,000,” Pritzker added.

The state’s two fairgrounds are facing an estimated $185 million in deferred maintenance and repairs. The state budget passed last year, however, allocated $30 million for Springfield and $164,000 for Du Quoin.

When asked where the department will spend an extra $800,000, Sullivan said, “We will identify where the money can best be used. Certainly, the foundation is going to have some input on that.”

Sullivan added that as the state works on an infrastructure bill, he wants to involve his department in that discussion to potentially secure more fairgrounds repair and improvement funds.

Related:State fairgrounds gets $30 million in new budget

Sullivan also said he’s looking for a new state fair manager after the last manager was let go with the departing Bruce Rauner administration.

“I want to do everything I can to make it the best fair it can be,” Sullivan said.

When asked about the three most pressing issues at IDOA, Sullivan responded that rural broadband tops the list.

“From my own home location, as well as our family’s business, trying to get high-speed internet is very, very frustrating,” Sullivan said, adding that Pritzker highlighted that issue in his inaugural address. “It’s absolutely a hinderance to trying to do business.”

Getting industrial hemp cultivation rules commented on and finalized in the coming months also made his list, as he said growers around the state seem excited to add diversity in their operations with the crop.

“The third area would be ag education or the education field, in general,” Sullivan said, concluding that internet access will also be important for the online education programs he’s interested in pursuing.  

About the Author(s)

Austin Keating

Associate Editor, Prairie Farmer

Austin Keating is the newest addition to the Farm Progress editorial team working as an associate editor for Prairie Farmer magazine. Austin was born and raised in Mattoon and graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a degree in journalism. Following graduation in 2016, he worked as a science writer and videographer for the university’s supercomputing center. In June 2018, Austin obtained a master’s degree from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University, where he was the campus correspondent for Planet Forward and a Comer scholar.

Austin is passionate about distilling agricultural science as a service for readers and creating engaging content for viewers. During his time at UI, he won two best feature story awards from the student organization JAMS — Journalism Advertising and Media Students — as well as a best news story award.

Austin lives in Charleston. He can sometimes be found at his family’s restaurant the Alamo Steakhouse and Saloon in Mattoon, or on the Embarrass River kayaking. Austin is also a 3D printing and modeling hobbyist.

Subscribe to receive top agriculture news
Be informed daily with these free e-newsletters

You May Also Like