Bright outlook for 2023 Illinois county fairs

The president of the Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs is expecting another big year for county fair events.

Jill Hardesty tells Brownfield overall county fair attendance rebounded following the COVID-19 pandemic and both state fairs hit record attendance in 2022.

“I think everything will be just as full or fuller than what we had last year. There are so many people still wanting to get out in their community and help their local fair.”

She says live poultry shows are expected to return in 2023, following a ban last year caused by the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza outbreak.

“The department of ag issued an emergency order last year, but they’ve said they are not going to do that this year, as of now.”

Hardesty says agriculture education remains the forefront of Illinois county fairs, and many are adding tour options to the agenda.

“They can walk them through the buildings and through the hog and cattle barns and let them see what the owners do for the animals; the feed, the water, keeping clean stalls, and the overall care and compassion that we have as an agriculture industry.”

The IAAF held their annual meeting and convention in Springfield earlier this month. During the event Paige VanDyke of Clay County was crowned the 2023 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen and will represent the organization this fair season.

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