A day at the Illinois State Fair
By Lucas Neira
August 22, 2018

For the first time, I experienced a taste of the Illinois State Fair (ISF). Being Brazilian and coming from a different culture, I learned a lot during my time in Springfield.  

The first surprise of my day was the big banner that said the fair had been operating for more than 200 years. I started to think how many transformations had happened throughout the years at the fair and the improvements of both the animals and the techniques that producers have employed.

I enjoyed touring a museum and seeing all those old machines that have helped producers during the early years, with many pictures and descriptions showcasing Illinois history. I spent quite a few hours appreciating that place.

Around lunch time, I had another great surprise with a huge diversity of “fair” food. I asked people which ones I should choose. I followed the majority and tried the delicious and unforgettable cheese curds, corn bread, and mini-doughnuts. What a meal!

Every detail makes this fair a special place, but the lessons learned from the barns were amazing. I saw how families worked together early in the morning to prepare the animals – hard work that starts long before show day with selecting potential animals and teaching the kids how to present those animals to the best of their ability. 

Showing is a tradition that has been passed down through many of these families to help keep the younger generations involved with livestock production. As well, it teaches the children to be competitive and respectful with the judges and to be kind to the animals.

I could see the passion in the children’s eyes, even when they had to accept the unpleasant taste of defeat. I learned the most important lesson that day from the judge. With so many animals so close to perfection (and only getting to choose one champion), I learned that sometimes the choices that you make will not be as important as the reasons that you have for making it.

I would like to thank Wes Chapple for inviting me. I appreciate your patience and time sharing your knowledge with me during the show.