The “honey-do” list at the Illinois State Fairgrounds is growing faster than the Illinois Department of Agriculture can keep up with it. And the leaky roof over the Grandstand will be patched – but not fully fixed – in time for the blll of concerts and horse races at the fair, which begins Thursday. “It was a particular challenge” to get the roof fixed, says department director Bob Flider, pointing out the fairgrounds encompasses more than 300 acres. “Our Number One job is to make it safe, and do so in a way that we can continue the State Fair. We're going to make some temporary repairs – those are underway. When the fair begins, it's safe, it'll be dry, and we'll make some long-term repairs later to protect our investment.”
Flider adds the fairgrounds has undergone $6.7 million in electrical repairs since 2006.
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The State Fair is not the only Illinois tourist attraction which is squeezed for funds. The Illinois Historic Preservation Agency is examining which corners to cut after summer's over.
“We won't have any closures, we will just be reducing our hours,” says IHPA director Amy Martin, adding her department did not get the budget it wanted. “We really hope to work with the legislature in January to possibly restore our budget.”
This is not the first time IHPA has had to make cuts. Former Gov. Rod Blagojevich closed many sites shortly before he was impeached and removed from office.