Study: Illinois county fairs challenged by lack of state funds

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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) – Cuts in state funds and a lack of interest from younger people are affecting county fairs in Illinois.

Those are among the findings of a University of Illinois study of the state’s 104 county fairs.

The study announced Friday by the Illinois Department of Agriculture and the Illinois Association of Agriculture Fairs found that spending at the fairs totaled more than $170 million in 2014. Officials say half of that was spent in surrounding communities.

One challenge for county fairs is a drop in state and local funding. The Agriculture Department says state funds to cover competition prizes, for example, declined from $2.1 million in 2006 to about $1.8 million for 2015.

Other challenges include a difficulty staying relevant to younger people and declining interest in agriculture.

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Online: http://www.illinoiscountyfairs.org/

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