SPRINGFIELD, Ill. – People are starting to head to the Illinois State Fair as the weekend is underway. However, some who initially planned to go say they’ll boycott the fair because of the mask requirement for concerts and indoor exhibits. That has vendors worried.
Most people we spoke with are just excited to be back here after a long two-year waiting period. Venders are asking everyone to come out and support small businesses because this is their livelihood.
“We bring people to the fair for these fries,” said Kevin Cullers. “You know, 76 years this year in business. A long time.”
Cullers is the third-generation owner of Cullers’ French Fry. His family loves coming back to the fair every year to see familiar faces, from customers to other vendors they’ve become close with. Cullers says last year was tough on everyone, especially in his industry.
“Some people sold their business, some people didn’t want to do it anymore,” Cullers said. “But this should be the year, it should be a good year for everybody that’s still here.”
That’s why the Cullers and several other popular vendors are using social media to ask people to come out to the fair. Some say they won’t come this year in protest of the indoor mask requirement. But that doesn’t stop annual fans of the fair from getting their favorite food.
“We pretty much just made a trip in today just to get Cullers’ french fries and a porkchop sandwich from the Pork Patio,” said Jan Wilson.
The longtime Springfield resident says she’s happy to see the fair back and all the smiles people have as they walk around the grounds. Whether it’s for french fries with vinegar or a corndog and lemon shake-up, there’s something for every tastebud.
“It’s huge for us. You know, last year August was boring for us,” said Kelsie Vose. “And then it’s been a part of my entire life. To have it back is great. We were ready for it!”
The Vose family is well known for Vose’s Korndogs across from the Grandstand. While Kelsie has also heard rumors that fewer people plan on coming to the fair, she’s staying optimistic.
“There are so many outside shows and new things this year that people can enjoy and you don’t have to wear a mask,” Vose said.
Cullers also said people have plenty of space to enjoy outside without masks, so people have no reason to boycott the event.
We personally saw a mixture of people walking around the grounds with and without masks. Fair employees hand out masks and informational sheets to anyone using the parking lots. You can also find staff with masks ready near every entrance gate.
It should be a bit cooler than normal this weekend and there’s plenty to explore and enjoy at the State Fair. Now, it’s time for me to dig in.
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