With the state of Illinois prohibiting large-scale gatherings until more effective treatments for coronavirus or a vaccine are widely available, the annual state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin have been canceled this summer.
“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,” Gov. J.B. Pritzker said in a statement. “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. This is the right choice based on guidance from the Illinois Department of Public Health and other experts: we have to prioritize keeping our people safe. Our state fairs are unmatched across the nation, and I look forward to gathering again to showcase the best of Illinois when it is safe to do so.”
The Department of Agriculture will instead host a virtual Junior Livestock Expo in Springfield in September.
The news comes on the heels of the cancellation of other major events like Lollapalooza and the Taste of Chicago.
Pritzker has said the fate of the fairs was unclear in recent weeks.
The state fair was canceled before from 1942-1945 due to World War II as the grounds were used as a U.S. Army Airforce supply depot, officials said. It is the first time the Du Quoin State Fair has been canceled since 1986.
Last year, organizers said the Illinois State Fair set records for the grandstand and near-record numbers for attendance.
“We are obviously disappointed that we will not be able to hold the 2020 Illinois State Fair,” Kevin Gordon, Illinois State Fair manager said in a statement. “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.”