Wherever Judy is, she has to be laughing. The blue curtain separating the ceremonies from the rest of “Judy Baar Topinka Lane” kept onlookers from seeing a line of porta-potties along what used to be “Corn Dog Lane.” Topinka, a former state lawmaker, three-term treasurer, and Republican gubernatorial nominee in 2006, had just been elected to a second term as comptroller when she passed away in December. “The fair was Judy's Las Vegas,” said the master of ceremonies.
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The banner above the stage bore Topinka's photo and the legend 30 Years of Common Sense. Cory Jobe, now the state's tourism director, was deputy chief of staff to the flame-haired, plain-spoken, rummage-sale-suited Topinka. “As Illinois state treasurer, Judy oversaw one of the largest agricultural loan programs at the time in the nation,” Jobe told the crowd. “By partnering with local financial institutions, she was able to provide liquidity to farm operators and producers for annual operating expenses and equipment purchases.” “Judy Baar Topinka Lane” runs along the west side of Food-a-Rama on the fairgrounds.