Illinois State Fair

The Illinois Democrats seeking their party’s nomination for governor are spending more time campaigning against the incumbent than each other. And they’re not pulling any punches.

Craft Brew glasses on tasting board
theNerdPatrol / Flickr

Several breweries from across the state will compete during a new attraction at this year's Illinois State Fair. 

The coliseum at the state fair with flags waving above it.
Katherine Johnson / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

The Illinois State Fair opens in one week. Years of budget cuts and deferred maintenance have led to a series of problems at the fairgrounds. But officials say they’ll be ready.

Ferris wheel
flickr/Katherine Johnson

Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

The coliseum at the state fair with flags waving above it.
Katherine Johnson / CC BY 2.0 / Flickr

Sean Crawford talks with State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis.

Amanda Vinicky

 Gov. Bruce Rauner, a Republican, has gotten a lot of traction with his push for term limits. Voters seem to love the idea just as much as legislators hate it, even if the governor's plan doesn't seem all that practical.

flickr/Katheerine Johnson

Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register Business Editor Tim Landis:

Amanda Vinicky

  Jesse White’s days as the Illinois Secretary of State may be coming to a close.

Amanda Vinicky and Brian Mackey
Network Knowledge

Host Amanda Vinicky, Brian Mackey, and Dave Dahl (WTAX) discuss what went on when the legislature returned for the Illinois State Fair.

CapitolView is a production of WSEC-TV/PBS Springfield, Network Knowledge.

albatross
Michael Sale / Flickr.com/michaelsale (cc-by-nc)

Republicans and Democrats gathered in Springfield this week for party meetings and rallies at the Illinois State Fair. Republicans mostly avoided mentioning presidential nominee Donald Trump, preferring to focus on Democratic House Speaker Michael Madigan. Democrats, meanwhile, were happy to embrace Madigan, and tried to tie Republicans into an embrace of Trump, too. Both parties are hoping the other side's top politicians will become an albatross around the necks of down-ballot candidates.

John Cullerton, Bruce Rauner and Michael Madigan
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

Can Democrats convince voters to see Donald Trump as an albatross around the neck of Illinois Republicans?

Amanda Vinicky

Speculation continues to swirl over who Democrats will put up to challenge Gov. Bruce Rauner in two years.

Bruce Rauner at Inauguration 2015
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois

In just a few years, one man has transformed the Illinois Republican Party from a perennial also-ran into a serious contender. Bruce Rauner been an agenda-setter, a shot-caller, and a rainmaker. And his party’s true believers couldn’t be happier.

Amanda Vinicky

Support for GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump remains tepid among leaders of the Illinois Republican Party.

Amanda Vinicky

Illinois Republicans rallied Wednesday at the state fair for Governor's Day -- so called because their party controls the governor's mansion. They spent some time talking about how to hold onto it two years from now, when the mansion will once again be up for grabs.

It may be unofficial, but the GOP is already committed to having Gov. Bruce Rauner as its nominee in 2018.

Who Democrats will put up to run against him is unclear. One oft-mentioned contender: U.S. Senator Dick Durbin.

"Anybody here want that?" Congressman Rodney Davis, R-13 asked at the fair rally.

Amanda Vinicky

A new foundation has been created to raise money for Illinois State Fair infrastructure.  Questions have already been raised about how the private entity will intermingle with government.

Eric Mason, an 18-year-old Lanphier graduate, was recognized by the Illinois State Fair for overcoming incredible odds to become a high achiever.
Amanda Vinicky / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

After 163 years, the Illinois State Fair is always adding traditions. New this year is the Hometown Hero Award, recognizing people who "perform selfless acts, overcome incredible odds and reach milestone achievements."

The inaugural winner is a teenager Eric Mason.

Eric just graduated from Springfield's Lanphier High School. And on Saturday, he left to begin college at Stanford University. That means he won't be around to partake in the glory, like joining the Grand Marshal to lead the Illinois State Fair Parade on Thursday, that comes along with being the "hometown hero."

SJ-R

NPR Illinois' Sean Crawford talks with the State Journal-Register's Tim Landis.

Amanda Vinicky

 Gov. Bruce Rauner says he supports one of Illinois' top industries: Agriculture. But critics say a recent plan goes against his own assertion that he's a “strong advocate” for it.

Amanda Vinicky

Iowa, Missouri and Wisconsin -- each collects private donations to help run their state fairs. But despite faulty infrastructure that will cost an estimated 180 million dollars to repair, Illinois does not.

It’s a windy day on the state fairgrounds in Springfield. Illinois' Director of Agriculture, Raymond Poe, laments a nearby building's crumbling roof.

"Agriculture represents about 25 percent of the economic value of the state of Illinois, all the way from farmers to exports. We need a place - and a high class place - to showcase our agriculture," he said.

If you're the parent of a Springfield student, you probably spent the winter holidays reminding your kid to study, or supervising homework projects. That's because this year, final exams began a week after students returned from winter break. District officials didn't plan it that way just to take all the fun out of Christmas.

Illinois Department of Agriculture

Musical acts for the state fair were paid up front while the artist who sculpted the fair’s iconic butter cow is still waiting for her check. Meanwhile, an agency that helps survivors of sexual assault is in danger of closing as it waits for funding. 

KatherineJohnson/flickr

It's perhaps the most recognizable symbol of the Illinois State Fair.  And due to the state budget gridlock, no payment has been made to the sculptor.

Credit Flickr/aka_kath

Illinois Gov. Bruce Rauner has accepted the resignation of the state's Agriculture Department director and the director of the state fair.  

The resignations of Phil Nelson and Patrick Buchen were announced late Thursday. The reasons for their resignations were not given. 

  Birds from out of state are once again welcome within Illinois' borders. They'd been banned from fairs and exhibitions.

If you noticed the price of eggs going up this summer - there's a reason. Several states' bird populations were hit -- hard -- by avian flu. Wild birds, captive ones, and commercial and backyard poultry. But no cases were detected in Illinois.

Agriculture officials here reacted by trying to keep visiting birds, like chickens, out of places like the Illinois State Fair.

State Week logo (capitol dome)
Brian Mackey / NPR Illinois | 91.9 UIS

This week, debate over whether Illinois municipalities should have the option to declare bankruptcy, mandatory state spending continues despite no agreement on a budget, and some odd numbers from this year's state fair.  The Chicago Tribune's Monique Garcia joins the panel.

Despite great weather, Illinois' State Fair, which fell later in August than usual, saw a huge decline in attendance.

At the state fair's kickoff earlier this month, Gov. Bruce Rauner announced his love of the event.

"I hope everybody in Springfield, everybody around the state, come on out," he said just before the fair's opening parade.

Instead, figures show attendance fell by half. The state says 411,500 people went through the fair's gates, versus the 847,000 who showed up last year.

Amanda Vinicky / WUIS - Illinois Issues

While presidential candidates seemed as prevalent as funnel cakes at the Iowa State Fair, none stopped by Illinois'.

A Democratic Party leader says Hillary Clinton was invited to its political events in Springfield. Instead, Clinton had surrogates speak on her behalf, including Attorney General Lisa Madigan.

"Hillary Clinton is a leader, she is a fighter, she is a friend and having grown up in Park Ridge, Illinois, she is one of us," Madigan said.

Politicians and the party faithful flocked to the Illinois State Fair this week, with both Democrats and Republicans defining the continuing budget impasse as an epic struggle.  However, the struggle remains static, with no work toward an agreement.  Becky Schlikerman of the Chicago Sun Times joins the panel.

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