Illinois State Fair carnival vendor loses state contract for hiring registered child sex offender

Local News

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (NEXSTAR) — The Illinois State Fair will be seeking a new carnival company in 2022 after firing the new company it brought in to install and operate rides at the state fairgrounds in Springfield and DuQuoin this year.

One month after our report revealed Miller Spectacular Shows had hired a convicted child sex offender to work near children’s rides on the fairgrounds, the Department of Agriculture confirmed it has notified the company of its intent to sever the company’s 10-year contract with the state.

It remains unclear when the state will open the competitive bidding process for new vendors to apply for the 2022 fair, but when they do, spokeswoman Krista Lisser said, “The Department has no intention to contract with Miller.”

The Illinois State Police escorted 41-year-old Jason Flynn off of the fairgrounds in August and opened an investigation into the incident. On Friday evening, a spokesperson for the Illinois State Police said their investigators have referred the findings from the case to the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office. Flynn, who was released from state prison six months before he was hired to work on the carnival rides, has not been charged.

Miller Spectacular Shows did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

The Illinois Department of Labor fined the carnival company $10,000 for “failing to perform a criminal records check,” a spokesman said in an email Friday night. The state agency also revoked all of the company’s permits to operate in Illinois.

In response to our reporting, state senator Steve McClure (R-Springfield) has since filed new legislation to explicitly ban any convicted child sex offenders from working on the state fairgrounds. Current state law only bans registered sex offenders from working at county fairs.

“This is a very serious situation,” McClure said. “I think it’s a good thing that the fair is now looking after the safety of the kids that go there. Hopefully this bill will prevent this from ever happening again in the future.”

Editor’s note: This story has been updated add new information about the fine levied against the carnival company, and that the Illinois State Police have referred the findings of their investigation to the Sangamon County State’s Attorney’s office.

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