Breaking News Bar

Our view: We can't let Du Quoin fairgrounds go under

  • The stately grandstand to the Du Quoin State Fair.

    The stately grandstand to the Du Quoin State Fair.
    Courtesy of Illinois Landmarks

By The Editorial Board
updated: 4/27/2018 12:17 PM

Let's start by saying, it's not time to panic. Yet.

But the nonprofit Landmarks Illinois group took a shot across our bow on Wednesday and everyone who cares about southern Illinois heritage and the Du Quoin State Fairgrounds has been put on notice.

Landmarks Illinois releases a list every year of historic buildings in the state that are in danger of falling down due to neglect, or being swept away by redevelopment. These aren't just ordinary old piles of brick and mortar, but architectural gems or places that speak deeply to Illinois history and heritage.

Sometimes they aren't even buildings in the modern sense at all -- hence the timely inclusion this year of the ancient Kincaid Mounds in Pope and Massac counties.

By adding the Du Quoin Fairgrounds to the endangered list, Landmarks is sounding the warning bell. Maybe not tomorrow or in the next few years, but someday soon the reckoning will come.

The roof on the grandstand needs attention. If it doesn't get it, the grandstand could go the way of the Coliseum on the Illinois State Fairgrounds in Springfield, which was designed in 1901 and closed to the public in 2016 because it wasn't safe enough anymore.

Here in Du Quoin, our state fair was a up-from-the-ground affair, started by people who loved Du Quoin and who loved horses and who took a big risk to get it off the ground.

Today, the Du Quoin fairgrounds are owned by the state, and have been for 32 years.

The money either hasn't been there, or hasn't been allocated, for the Department of Agriculture to keep up with needed maintenance here, or in Springfield.

Landmarks Illinois is trying to get legislators interested in a capital bill that would provide the money for necessary repairs and maintenance at both places -- and while we hope they are successful, although we don't expect anything close to the staggering $180 million Landmarks says both fairgrounds need in total.

We also hope the Illinois Fairgrounds Foundation can get into the act, and start raising private funds to help out.

We imagine there are some in Du Quoin who would like to be a part of that.

Search Carbondale Times