Illinois State Fair Cancels, Offers Youth Show in September

( Jennifer Shike )

Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker will issue an Executive Order on June 12 canceling the Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs for 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. However, youth livestock exhibitors will still have a chance to showcase their hard work in September, according to the Illinois Department of Agriculture.

Illinois youth exhibitors ages 8-21 will have the opportunity to show their animals and the 4-H General Project Show will take place virtually, with premiums and ribbons to be distributed by the Illinois Department of Agriculture. Details regarding entry and operations will be made available at a later time, the Illinois Department of Agriculture said in a release.

The annual state fairs, which attracted over 600,000 visitors combined in 2019, will return in August 2021.

"The Illinois and Du Quoin State Fairs have been some of my favorite opportunities to celebrate our agricultural communities and the residents who make Illinois so exceptional," Pritzker said in a release. "But it's because the fairs are such a treasure to so many thousands of people that my administration, like those of our neighboring Midwestern states, must make the difficult decision to cancel the 2020 State Fairs in light of the risk posed by COVID-19.”

Pritzker said this decision is based on guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and other experts: to keep people safe. 

"We've said from the very beginning our main concern is the health and safety of those who attend our state fairs," said Jerry Costello II, Illinois Department of Agriculture acting director. "These aren't just fairs; they are economic engines for the Springfield and Du Quoin communities that highlight the best that Illinois has to offer and shine a spotlight on kids around our state. These kids work all year to prepare for their livestock and projects, so we are determined to still provide them an event that showcases their hard work and perseverance through a very difficult year."

From 1942-1945, the Illinois State Fair was canceled due to World War II, as the fairgrounds were used as a U.S. Army Airforce supply depot. The fair was also cancelled in 1862 due to the Civil War and was replaced in 1893 by the World's Columbia Expo in Chicago.

"We are obviously disappointed that we will not be able to hold the 2020 Illinois State Fair," said Illinois State Fair Manager Kevin Gordon. "Our staff has been working hard to top what we did last year, and we feel like we were on track to do so. With that being said, we also understand that this is an unprecedented event. We have fantastic vendors, fairgoers, partners and exhibitors that we will miss seeing this year on the fairgrounds."

The 2021 Illinois State Fair will run from August 12-August 22. The 2021 Du Quoin State Fair is scheduled for August 27-September 6.

Earlier this week, the Iowa State Fair was canceled and the Missouri State Fair announced its show will go on.

Here's an updated map of the state fair cancellations.

More from Farm Journal:

Iowa State Fair Cancels for First Time Since World War II

State Fair Cancellations Shatter Dreams Across the Country

Overhe(a)rd: Livestock Show Cancellations & Lessons Learned

Indiana State Fair Canceled, Plans for Modified Youth Livestock Show

10 Realities Fairs Must Face Due to COVID-19