“Growing Illinois” is the theme of the 2015 Illinois State Fair. And, that may end up being the theme of the fair for years. The theme, State Fair Manager Patrick Buchen says, is so the fair can get back to something he says has been lacking over the years: a focus on agriculture. “We believe that the State Fair has drifted — not DuQuoin, the Illinois State Fair — has drifted a little bit from agriculture,” says Buchen. “It’s the number one industry in the State of Illinois. It’s a multi-billion dollar industry. There is no industry larger than agriculture. We believe the State Fair needs to be that beacon for agriculture.”
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Buchen says agriculture may be a long-term focus of the State Fair. “We’re going to make the slant agriculture,” Buchen says. “We’re going to make our verbiage agriculture, and hopefully bring back some of the agriculture entities that have perhaps slid just a bit in previous years.”
Another thing that may help, Buchen says, selling sponsorships. “If you sell a sponsorship right, yes, you have some fulfillment costs. But, 85, 90% of that sponsorship — guess where it goes? Your bottom line,” says Buchen.”
Buchen says some legislative changes may also help the fair become more profitable.