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Illinois turns to private donors to fix fairgrounds

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Illinois State Fair

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) _ John Slayton and the Illinois State Fairgrounds Foundation have their work cut out for them.

Gov. Bruce Rauner named Slayton, Springfield banker, last month to head the new organization formed to raise money for repair and maintenance of the long-ignored state fairgrounds.

The price tag: $180 million.

Fair foundations in nearby states Minnesota and Iowa raised about $4 million annually in recent years.

Slayton says he knows it’s a titanic job, but the foundation wanted to get off the ground and do something.

Rauner created the group because the beleaguered state budget can’t contribute much to fairgrounds upkeep.

Fundraising expert Nathan Dietz of the Urban Institute says the key is to develop a loyal base of givers. He says charitable giving has hit record levels in recent years.