In a few weeks, hundreds of thousands of people will pour into southern Illinois for the 2016 Du Quoin State Fair. While most people are focused on plans for this year’s fair, some vendors are still waiting to be paid for services from last year.
The Du Quoin State Fairgrounds sit quiet, but in just one month roughly 300,000 people are expected to walk through the gates. Assistant Fair Manager Tibretta Reiman says they’re busy every day, rushing to get everything ready in time.
"We are already in crunch mode, it feels like. With 34 days [left], planning's going great," said Reiman. She says the fair isn't having a hard time finding vendors.
But after going nearly a year without pay, not every vendor is planning to come back this time around. Craig Smith with Elks Lodge 884 in Du Quoin says he and his lodge helped out at the Du Quoin State Fair for the first time last year. But after months of waiting, they've still gotten no pay.
"It's a little disappointing to wait 11 months or more to get paid," Smith said He says they’re waiting on $3,000 for services from the fair. He says their lodge missed out on state requirements without that funding. He says it’s frustrating, because that money wasn’t just for them, but the people and animals in need in the area.
"That's money we would have given to the ministerial alliance, the humane society, child advocacy center," Smith said.
With funding approved by lawmakers on June 30 through a stopgap measure, the state fair can finally submit vouchers on behalf of vendors to the state comptroller’s office so the lodge and all other vendors can be paid.
Lodge leaders say they’re grateful to soon see a paycheck, but they don’t plan on coming back this year. Other businesses say they likely will go again, now that they know a paycheck from the state is finally coming.
With new entertainment on the grandstand and on the grounds for kids and families, as well as new vendors and activities, Reiman says they’re working hard to make sure this year’s fair is their best yet.
"We're ready for everyone to come and enjoy the Du Quoin State Fair," Reiman said.
In an effort to be transparent with this report, WPSD TV wants to acknowledge that the Du Quoin State Fair owes unpaid bills to our station for advertising dating back to 2015.
The Du Quoin State Fair runs Aug. 26 through Sept. 5. For a full schedule of events and theme nights, as well as food to try while you’re there, visit the Du Quoin State Fair website.
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