Illinois bill would tap private donors to help fund state fairgrounds

To better maintain their state’s two fairgrounds, some Illinois legislators want to create a new foundation that solicits private donations. Under HB 4990 and SB 2903, the Fairgrounds Foundation would be housed within the state Department of Agriculture and be overseen by a board of directors. Legislative leaders and the governor would appoint this board. Illinois has two fairgrounds, one in Springfield, the other in DuQuoin. More than $180 million in deferred maintenance is needed at both locations.<--break->The Illinois proposals seek to follow a funding model already being employed in neighboring states such as Iowa and Wisconsin. The Iowa State Fair Blue Ribbon Foundation has raised more than $115 million since 1993. That money has come from a mix of individual contributions; state appropriations; in-kind services; and corporate, state and federal grants. Wisconsin also has a State Fair Park Foundation.

Some states, too, have dedicated a portion of certain revenue sources to their state fairs — for example, some casino riverboat admissions in Indiana and 10 percent of lottery proceeds in Nebraska.

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Stateline Midwest April 20162.25 MB