Are 2020 Illinois County Fairs in Jeopardy?

 Racing at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Photo courtesy of

Racing at the Whiteside County Fair in Morrison, Photo courtesy of

By Mike Paradise

While harness racing at Hawthorne is on hold due to the world-wide Coronavirus outbreak, there’s another segment of the Illinois Standardbred industry that could be severely affected and it has received very little of the public’s attention: It’s the state’s County Fair Circuit.

Will racing at the Illinois County Fairs go on as usual or will it be cutback or even curtailed this year?

“That’s a very good question,” responded trainer Clark Fairley who heads up the County Fair Committee of the IHHA. “Right now there isn’t a decision on that yet. The Standardbred Advisory Board was scheduled to hold a meeting but that got called off because of the Coronavirus outbreak.

“The first fair (Martinsville) is the first week of June and that’s not that far off. We should find out the status of the County Fairs situation soon. Hopefully they won’t be shut down. Those Fairs are a big deal to a lot of people in the state, especially in the smaller cities and towns. Some people schedule their vacations around the fairs; it’s that special to them.”

Throughout our state there are about 30 County Fairs that yearly conduct a harness race meet and there are more than 100 others without horse racing. In both cases they’re always jammed-packed with the locals, enjoying the food (try those Elephant Ears), the rides, the livestock, and such, but mostly its people of the community coming together.

Obviously the “stay home” and “avoid large gatherings” mandates now commonplace throughout the country has put this year’s Illinois County Fairs in jeopardy.

Let’s hope this summer thousands of Illinoisans won’t be disappointed.

 Night time approaches at the Clinton County Fair. Photo courtesy of

Night time approaches at the Clinton County Fair. Photo courtesy of

ICF Stake Noms: The nominations for the 2020 Night of Champions ICF three-year-old stakes have been made available. The Erwin F. Dygert Memorial for sophomore male trotters has the most noms with 21 while the Robert F. Carey Jr Memorial for second season pacing colts and geldings has the least with 13.

Eligible for the Erwin Dygert are the trotters Adventure, Cassy Chip, Coach Cougar, the 2019 NOC winner Crooked Creek, also Deememorymaker, Desert Sheik, Easy Eo, Fitchey for Fun, Fox Valley Briton, Fox Valley Kobe, Fox Valley Quest, Frazier, Heath Bar, Lou Paschal, Los Paisano, Louisnitut, Mr Red Thunder, On Higher Ground, Ramblin Cougar, Twin Cedars Rocket, and U S Patriot.

The 18 eligible trotters for the Beulah Dygert Memorial for 3-year-old fillies are Bee Bee, Delone Hall, El Oh Govner, Fannie Flirt, Fox Valley Extacy, Hallin Cass, High Queen Anne, Lauren Hall, Loos Abgail, Los Flashy Dancer, Olympic Hopeful, Princess Popcrocks, Really Railee, Reign And Shine, She’s Got Moxy and Tropical Rosie. Lous Abgail was the 2-year-old NOC 2019 trotting winner

The 17 Plum Peachy eligible are the sophomore pacing fillies Amazon Princess, Ashlees Fine Girl, Castielle, Dancin Eyes, Double Parked, Fox Valley Exploit (last season’s freshman NOC winner), Fox Valley Nia, Fox Valley Vixen, Johnnys Gal June, June Dale Gram, Mollie Hotspur, Sign Her Up, Sleazy Gal, Sporty Miss Dune, Style And Spirit and Te’s Smoothas Silk.

Among the 17 colt or gelding pacers nominated to the Carey is 2019 Night of Champions juvenile titleholder Hezzz A Wise Sky. Also eligible are Bagman, Canadian Mountie, Chick Magnet, Hello Rooster, Illini Force, L L Gram, Ole Slot Machine, Patton Plus, RG’S Tracer, RJ Wulfy, Ryans Ambassador and Western Perch.