Du Quoin State Fair brings economic boost

The next few days at St. Nicholas Brewing Company will be busy. With thousands in town for the Du Quoin State Fair, manager Abby Ancell says their burgers and craft brew are in high demand from tourists and locals alike.

"Busy, lots of people, lots of different people I think, coming from the fair or that work at the fair," Ancell said. She says the first weekend of the fair kept staff slammed and they’re hoping to see more of the same over the Labor Day weekend.

But plenty of people are picking up their favorite foods at the fair, like funnel cakes and lemon shake-ups.

"We like to go see all the food. We like fair food, the gyros especially," said Joe Kosma. He and his wife Beverly Kosma drive up from Vergennes, Illinois, for the fair every year, sometimes twice. He says the fair may be the destination, but they do hit the stores there in Du Quoin.

He says traffic at the fair has been pretty slow so far Friday morning but with big headline entertainers, he and fellow fairgoers agree it’s sure to pick up in a matter of hours.

The Illinois Department of Agriculture says a study done in 2000 shows the Du Quoin State Fair brings in $6 million to the area, including $2 million in wages and roughly $500,000 in sales tax revenues. Along with helping promote local businesses, the fair also employs close to 300, including many from southern Illinois.

Ancell says, with family and state budgets tight this year, the boost from fair traffic really helps.

"You know, any event in Du Quoin is good for our town. It’s good for the people. We want to have those," she said. Ancell said she hopes people coming in for the fair come back to the community all year long.

This is the first year the Du Quoin State Fair has charged for admission. It’s $2 for adults, but kids 12 and younger still get in free.

If you were at the fair Friday, you probably saw a lot of kids running around. Hundreds of kids spent the day on the fairgrounds on a field trip, learning about fishing, science and mining from area experts.

Ava Gregory, an 8 year old in Mrs. Loyd’s third grade class, says the best part was seeing the animals.

"We got to go to different barns and learn about the farms," Ava said. She says she’s going to be coming back again Friday night, this time with her family and, hopefully, go on some rides.

Students say they had a great time getting to know more about agriculture and farm animals on the field trip.

The Du Quoin State Fair runs through Sept. 5. For more information or for a schedule of events, visit the fair’s website

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