Illinois State Fair

801 E. Sangamon Ave. (Cross St.: N. 11th St.)
Springfield, IL
(217) 782-6661; (217) 524-6858 (TDD)
(217) 524-8634 (Auxiliary services/Senior Center)
www.agr.state.il.us/isf/
State Fairgrounds Map

This 10-day mega event draws more than 700,000 visitors each August. In addition to agriculture-related competitions and demonstrations, horse shows and harness racing, there are all types of concerts and entertainment as well as rides and games for the kids. While most of the 100 permanent structures on the 366-acre site were built prior to the ADA, efforts have been made to ensure that visitors with disabilities can also enjoy the shows and attractions, including the infamous butter cow. Amenities such as the tram, restrooms, picnic tables and campground are also accessible. However, neither the Sky Ride aerial tram nor the various rides in the Carnival Midway can accommodate wheelchairs. At Adventure Village only the train, which has a ramp and tiedowns, has wheelchair access.

Mobility

The Fairground's main entrance is ramped and has a separate gate for individuals using wheelchairs as well as a lowered ticket counter. The Illinois Building at this entrance, which houses the Senior Center, is one of two locations where one can rent wheelchairs and electric scooters as well as strollers. The other is at the north end of Grandstand Ave. near the Goat Barn and next to the accessible parking lot. Rather than individual designated parking spaces, the Fair reserves one whole lot for cars with disability placards or licenses. Trams providing full tours of the fairground run every 10-15 minutes, stopping at 12 locations in all. Two or three of the vehicles have ramped access but no tiedowns.

Fairground performance venues with fixed seating all have multiple wheelchair spaces with chairs for companions. The Grandstand has wheelchair seating on each level and a fully accessible elevator. When buying Grandstand tickets, one must advise the box office of any accessibility requirements. At the Arena and Coliseum, wheelchair seating is on one level only. There are also numerous free stages without seating where the viewing area is either asphalt or hard-packed ground.

Accessible restrooms, identified on the site map by the letters RA, are available in numerous buildings including the Coliseum which has single use restrooms for men and women. Food concessions are on accessible routes but mostly have high counters. Seating and accessible picnic tables are located throughout the fairgrounds including shaded areas. Springfield in August can be very hot and many buildings and tents have air conditioning including the Senior Center, which also has power outlets. For directions to the nearest cool spot, stop by one of the 5 Information Booths, identified by a "?" on the State Fairgrounds map.

The First Aid Station, which has a ramped entrance, is located in the Emmerson Building Annex, while the building's south wing has a Baby Care Center with a play area for small children. Except for a few areas near the Main Gate, the terrain at the fairgrounds is mostly flat. One barrier to watch out for, aside from uneven asphalt streets and curbcuts, is the plastic coverings over electric cables which one must traverse in areas such as the Midway.

Service Animals

Service animals are allowed at the Fair, but not pets. Please use caution when entering pavilions that house show animals. There are natural surface or grassy areas and trash receptacles throughout the grounds as well as air conditioned facilities.

Hearing

For persons with hearing loss, there are FM loops at the Grandstand, Coliseum, Illinois Building Auditorium and Lincoln Stage. Receivers may be borrowed at the State Police Station south of the Grandstand on Illinois Ave. (letter K on the map). Sign language interpreters can be requested with 24-hour advance notice.

Vision

Aside from Braille/tactile signage for restrooms and elevators, there is little in the way of accommodation for persons with vision loss. However, visitors can request an orientation at the Senior Center in the Illinois Building, located at the Fairground's main entrance. Staff at the Information Booths will also provide assistance.