Illinois State Fair opens with food, fun and politics

Tribune reporter

SPRINGFIELD — The Illinois State Fair opened today, and the politicians aren’t depending on rallies next week to strut their stuff at the state’s biggest combination of cattle, candy and food concoctions that our mothers wouldn't approve.

Gov. Pat Quinn admitted he’s already making headway on his goal to eat his way through the fair. Even before he snipped the ribbon for the official opening today, the governor had jumped in following Thursday night's pre-fair parade.

He acknowledged -- under his breath -- that he had downed three pork chops on a stick and an elephant ear. An aide to the Democratic governor also copped to Quinn having some ice cream too.

Republican Treasurer Dan Rutherford stole the schtick of former GOP Gov. Jim Thompson and his thunderous rides down the Giant Slide two decades before.

Rutherford said he’s gone on the ride for years. But this time -- or actually all three times he rode down the slide today -- it was symbolic of this week’s wild slide of the stock markets.

Even the lieutenant governor is going to bring her act to the fair. Sheila Simon’s band “Loose Gravel” will play at a beer tent.

“It might not be entirely related to our musical ability, but we got an invitation to play, and we said ‘yes’ immediately,” Simon said.

Loose Gravel -- something of a blues band -- will play 4 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Miller Lite Tent.  Wednesday also is Governor’s Day at the fair, and Thursday is Republican Day.

The fair runs through Sunday, Aug. 21.

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