SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (WCIA) – People who have been to the Illinois State Fair this year might notice some changes from years past.
The state has poured $58.1 million into infrastructure and improvement projects across the fairgrounds. The Illinois Department of Agriculture (IDOA) has invested $6.7 million.
Some of those improvements include a new Sensory Station and renovations to existing facilities.
“There were many years that went on, under previous administrations, to where either not much or no work was done to a lot of the facilities here on the fairgrounds,” said IDOA Director Jerry Costello. “That has all changed.”
The Coliseum is one of the many buildings undergoing some major changes and fairgoers said they’re noticing the difference.
“It’s incredible,” fairgoer Janelle Gibson said. “I never thought the state would actually come through and fix it up.”
The more than 120-year-old building is home to events like horse shows. In 2019, the state finished Phase 1 of the project, which included an insulated roof.
“The roof was terrible,” Gibson said. “We were here one time for a horse show, and it was raining, pouring rain, and the roof was raining as much on the inside as it was on the outside. It was flooded part way up the bottom, about a third of the way up the bottom doors when we were here. It was just pitiful.”
Now, Phase 2 of the project is underway.
“I’m kind of surprised at how long it has taken,” said Steve Griffin, another fairgoer. “I thought that they would be done this year.”
This phase includes adding new seating, putting in two new elevators and making it more accessible for people with disabilities.
“Having that new renovation around $30 million total, Phase 1 [and] Phase 2, it’s been huge and it’s really moving the fairgrounds into that next generation,” Costello said.
The Multi-Purpose Arena is also getting a major facelift. $8.6 million went to that facility to install a new canopy and fix some of the structural problems with the facility.