Fair grounds move forward following manager resignation

Illinois is again looking for a new state fair manager less than six months after its last hire.

In January, Gov. Bruce Rauner fired Shannon Woodworth, who served as Du Quoin State Fair manager for little more than a year.

In May, Patrick Buchen was hired to oversee the state fairs in Springfield and Du Quoin, but he quit after less than five months on the job.

"Patrick got a phone call that Director Nelson had resigned or was leaving, and Patrick said ‘I’m right behind him,’" said Du Quoin State Fair Assistant Manager Norm Hill. "He said ‘I hate to, but I’m going to leave the meeting,’ and that’s how we found out about it."

Hill says working with Buchen was a pleasure.

He says Buchen’s success in year one as manager was almost shocking.

"Some of the percentages I’m looking at are ridiculous," said Hill. "Beer sales on the beer tent and the grand stand were up 119 percent.  Our gross at Du Quoin on the midway is probably $100,000 bigger than the gross on the midway at Springfield."

As one of the areas largest economic engines, that’s music to the ears of Du Quoin Mayor Guy Alongi, who says the position needs stability.

"They need to find somebody, whether it be locally or somebody in the area that knows southern Illinois, (who) knows how to run that fairground and give some stability in the position," said Alongi.  "The fair needs to move forward."

At this time there is no timeline for a replacement to be named for the Illinois State Fair Manager vacancy.

Buchen told the Springfield Journal-Register he was forced to resign due to cronyism and interference.

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