Fairly divided: Vendors have differing views on State Fair’s success

Fairly divided: Vendors have differing views on State Fairs success

Addison Keeley, Assistant Editor

While the pandemic is not over, the summer tradition of the Illinois State Fair has proven that it is not finished either, as it returned this year for the first time since 2019.
The beloved Springfield tradition consisted of its usual nexus- food and gift stands, rides, concerts and sporting events. Notably, fair attendees with masks were sporadic, and social distancing was unsurprisingly nonexistent.
Fair workers provided mixed feedback on how satisfied they were with the general performance of the Illinois State Fair this year. Official attendance numbers have yet to be released.
First-time fair workers seemed content with how successful their business went.
Journe Dawson of the Southern Style stand at Village of Cultures, formerly known as Ethnic Village, rated business for her first year as a fair employee a “7 out of 10.”
Dawson believed the fair would be more successful, both from a financial and attendance standpoint, once the pandemic is over.
“I found out that refunds were being offered to those who bought fair tickets, so more people might have come out had the officials not done that,” Dawson said.
In comparison, Jamie Zimproff of Cutco called 2021 “the slowest year we ever had (at the fair)”. Zimproff stated that success for his stand at the fair varies in a “pattern” yearly, but he considers COVID-19 “a contributing factor” as to why business was underwhelming this year from a personal standpoint.
“Service was medium (during the week); the weekend was great. We typically do great during the weekends at the fair, but the week (this year) was slow”, commented Bill Dahlkamp of STS Main Street Parking.
When asked if he believed COVID-19 limited the number of attendees the fair had this year and if he expected to do better business-wise in 2022, Dahlkamp simply replied “Yes, and yes.”
With the end of COVID-19 being up in the air, just like the new Delta variant itself, it is possible the virus may hinder the attendance of the state fair for years to come. However, with the beloved 10-day event returning and taking place, this could be considered a step forward for Illinois amid the pandemic.