Linda & Cindy’s Excellent Pre-Fair Adventure

Illinois State Fair

Who doesn’t love the Illinois State Fair?  Linda Spanberger does!  She was in town on August 8, 2018 visiting me when I received the media advisory abouy the dedication of the Illinois Statehood Forever Stamp and the unveiling of the Butter Cow.  So, we started making plans!

Arriving in plenty of time to park, we walked through the Expo building.  Linda knew right where the post office section was.  Located in the back of the building it was fun walking through and seeing everyone set up. Linda is a minor stamp collector, in fact, she has even collected the beautiful Forever Stamp.

Stamp Dedication!

The first person we saw was 2018 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen Samantha Hasselbring.  This lovely young woman hails from Cissna Park in Iroquois County. She is the 59th Miss Illinois County Fair Queen.  She was crowned during the 108th Illinois Association of Agricultural Fairs convention in January.  As the hostess of both the Illinois State Fair and the DuQuoin State Fair, Queen Hasselbring was on hand to help dedicate the Forever Stamp.

Illinois State Fair
What fun to have our picture with the reigning Illinois County Fair Queen Samanth Hasselbring!

Springfield Postmaster, Israel Hilton and Illinois Department of Agriculture Director, Raymond Poe, were at the unveiling of the the Illinois Statehood Forever stamp.  First introduced in March of this year, the  stamp is part of the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Illinois Statehood.

In their press release the Illinois Department of Agriculture shared, “Known as the Prairie State, Illinois became the 21st state Dec. 3, 1818. The stamp art features an outline of the state map with a series of yellow beams radiating upward like the rays of a rising sun. The colors begin at the bottom with a deep yellow, fading upward to pale yellow and then into pale blue, with increasingly deeper blues rising to the top of the state’s outline. The yellows and blues symbolize the dawning of a new day as the state joins the Union. Stars, representing the first 20 states, grace the top of the stamp. The rising sun symbolizes the 21st star.”

Wondering about if the stamp design reflected agriculture,  I asked about the design.  Illinois Department of Agriculture Raymond Poe mentioned he thinks the sunlight aspect ties in with the agriculture. Representative Tim Burton, who was also at the dedication, said the design also complements the Bicentennial design as well.  Illinois State  Fair Manager, Luke Sailer was at the dedication along with Department of Agriculture staff and media. One of the reporters asked if mail is still valid today and Postmaster Hilton said, “Mail is still very relevant, people still go to their mailbox everyday looking for something.”

The Forever Stamp was designed by Chicago artist Michael Konetzka.  Antonio Alcal of Alexandria, Virginia  was the project’s art director.  During the fair, Post Master Hilton said cancelled envelopes with the stamp on it will be available.

Illinois State Fair.
Queen Hasselbring was on hand to dedicate the Forever Stamp.

Linda and I enjoyed seeing the unveiling and even took time to get our picture taken with the Illinois County Fair Queen.

Butter Cow Unveiling!

Feeling like royalty, we strolledl to the Dairy Building for the Butter Cow unveiling.  Linda walked down memory lane pointing out Food-A-Rama, the skyride and other iconic state fair sites.  I made her stop and take a picture of me in front of friend Lloyd Fraase’s cornpicker.  Set up next to a new combine and corn head, I loved the combination of both new and old.  Raymond Poe, Illinois Director of Agriculture had mentioned the importance of showing the old with the new, “Because many young farmers have never seen this.”

At the Butter Cow unveiling, the cow design was of a Champion cow.  Sculpted by Sarah Pratt of West Des Moines, Iowa the sculptor didn’t make it to the fair.  She is also responsible for the cow and the John Deere tractor (which I would have loved to seen in person) at the Iowa State Fair. John Deere is celebrating 100 years of production of the tractor!

The Butter Cow has a ribbon and a grand champion sign in front of her with that states “Grand Champion State 1818 Bicentennial 2018” only the sculptor made a spelling error leaving out an “n” that now has been corrected.  On a later report I saw a quote where she apologized.  No biggie, the cow is great! A top hat representing Honest Abe and wording around the cow is also part of the décor.

Illinois State Fair.
2018 butter cow was unveiled on August 8th.

Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Raymond Poe said, “I have been coming to the fair since the 1940’s.  It is a family event to see the butter cow. ”

Director Poe added, “It is probably the most photographed thing on the fairgrounds.  It is a long standing tradition.”

Dairy Building superintendent Marla Behrends introduced Queen Hasselbring. The Queen said that she grew up on a beef farm and always enjoys seeing the butter cow, adding it is a family tradition.

At this year’s unveiling they did something a little different bringing in dairy farmer Fred Rosenbaum.  This farmer is the owner of Lindenhill Farms and he offers tours.  This year he took over 5,000 school children through his farm.  What a wonderful way to educate our youth!  He spoke for a few minutes, then Marla Behrends wrapped up reminding everyone that dairy is nutritious and good for you.

Illinois State Fair
We were cowched at the Dairy Building!

The new logo Marla Behrends added is “Undeniably Dairy” with a cow face with a heart in the center.  Quite catchy.

Before the event began, Linda and I took a minute and had our picture taken on the cow couch.  You might say we were cowched!

We enjoyed some incredible ice cream before heading out from our incredible pre-fair adventure!

The Illinois State Fair is August 9th – August 19th in Springfield, Illinois.  For more information log onto or download the free mobile app.