Amid local businesses’ concerns, new Du Quoin State Fair manager open to on-site video gaming

It’s an event that regularly generates up to $15 million for the local economy, but with just two acts booked for the Du Quoin State Fair in Illinois, local business owners are becoming concerned.

For Abby Ancell, owner of the St. Nicholas Brewery, the Du Quoin State Fair is the most important event of the year.

“A lot of businesses in town plan on that income for the month to help get them through the slower times throughout the rest of the year,” Ancell said.

Last year, Ancell says, six bands packed not only the grand stands but local restaurants as well.

New fair manager Patrick Buchen says he’s confident in the 2015 Du Quoin State Fair, and he likes working with a clean slate.

“The fairs are what they are,” Buchen said. “We’re never going to get a huge uptick, even though we’re going to grow them, and we’re going to do that all we can. We’re never going to get a big decline either. Yes, we’re going to keep tradition, but we’re going to change some things.”

One change Buchen says he would like to see in the future is expanded video gambling on the grounds.

“We know how integral the racing business is here to Du Quoin,” Buchen said. “I think it gives the horse industry in the state of Illinois opportunities for growth, and we all want that.”

“We now have a voice in Springfield, and they’ve opened up resources to us that we didn’t have before,” Assistant Fair Manager Norm Hill said. “Overall, I think this is the most positive thing I’ve been involved with, and I’m extremely excited about where it’s going to go.”

The 2015 Du Quoin State Fair begins Aug. 28 and runs through Sept. 7.

The Illinois State Fair in Springfield has been fully booked since March.

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