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Illinois State Fair to charge manure fee

Livestock exhibitors are crying foul about the 2023 Illinois State Fair manure fee for junior and open show exhibitors. Here are the facts.

Betty Haynes

June 26, 2023

3 Min Read
boy showing beef cow
STATE FAIR: Livestock exhibitors at the 2023 Illinois State Fair will be charged a new manure fee for each of their junior and open show entries. Holly Spangler

Correction: The Illinois State Fair will offer $2 Tuesday on Aug. 15 for adults and seniors. An earlier report incorrectly stated the lower price for the entire 2023 event. Here is a complete explanation of 2023 admission prices.

The Illinois State Fair has implemented a new charge for livestock exhibitors for 2023 open and junior shows. Beef cattle, dairy cattle, swine, sheep and goat exhibitors will be charged a $5- or $10-per-head manure removal fee, depending on the species, for entries in both the junior and open shows.

Given that animals shown in both the junior and open shows are the same animal, often stalled in the same place, exhibitors say this new fee structure is designed to discourage participation.

And the manure fee has hit the proverbial fan on social media, where many exhibitors first learned of the fee last week through the ISF Open Beef Show and Beef Show pages on Facebook. Many tallied up the entry fees, stall rent and now manure fees for both junior and open shows, while others complained of the fees relative to the condition of the Junior Livestock Barn. Still others declared 2023 the year to take their livestock to the Iowa State Fair instead.

2023 Illinois State Fair manure fees

Chuck Lemenager of Fairbury, Ill., says he’s exhibited cattle for 40 years at the Illinois State Fair, and has been continually disappointed by conditions on the fairgrounds.

“The frustrating part is that those animals aren’t moving; they’re there for the duration of the fair,” Lemenager says. “Now I have to pay double to show in the open and junior show? For what?”

Rebecca Clark, Illinois State Fair manager, says there is a misconception about how many times an exhibitor is charged the manure fee.

“This is a one-time charge for a junior show and a one-time charge for an open show,” Clark says. “This makes the charge equitable for exhibitors who only compete in one class.” Still, if the same animal shows in both classes, the exhibitor will pay two manure fees.

Clark adds that the fee reflects increased expenses the fair has incurred for the coming year.

“The 2023 premium book includes updated fees to offset increased operational costs,” Clark says. “These fees provide minimal support to help with manure, bedding and stalling, increases to superintendents’ pay and operational costs of livestock shows.”

Clark says IDOA consulted external stakeholders on the new fee, who agreed to move forward. Details of new fees were posted in the draft form of the 2023 premium book in early spring, although many exhibitors don’t study book details until closer to the July 1 entry deadline.

“Both open and junior classes are being charged a manure fee because a majority of those animals are either on the fairgrounds for an extended period of time or only participate in one show,” Clark explains.

Lemenager disagrees, adding that he’s concerned that beef open show participation will suffer because of the added charge.

“When I was a kid, my dad would make breeding decisions after watching the state fair open show,” Lemenager says. “The most frustrating part is that everything the fair has done, including the fee, discourages open show folks from exhibiting.”

Although the fee will be an additional cost for the Lemenager family, with two children bringing multiple animals, he says it won’t deter their participation at the 2023 Illinois State Fair.

“It’s what we do, and we will make it work,” Lemenager explains. “In our farming community, we’ll pay as much as we can for a quality product, but the bedding we receive just isn’t good.”

Read more about:

Illinois State Fair

About the Author(s)

Betty Haynes

Betty Haynes and her husband, Dan, raise corn, soybeans and cattle with her family near Oakford, Ill., and are parents to Clare. Haynes grew up on a Menard County, Ill., farm and graduated from the University of Missouri. Most recently, she was associate editor of Prairie Farmer. Before that, she worked for the Illinois Beef Association, entirely managing and editing its publication.

Haynes won the Emerging Photographer Award from the Ag Communicators Network during the 2022 Ag Media Summit. At the 2023 AMS, she was named a Master Writer and winner of the Andy Markwart Horizon Award.

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