The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

June 22, 2013

Bismarck resident traces fair’s history


DANVILLE — Late last year, Bismarck resident Terry Light decided to indulge his childhood curiosity. He started researching the Illinois and Indiana Fair Association (I and I Fair). And he didn’t realize where he would end up.

“I was just curious, and when you’re curious about something you delve into it,” Light, 64, said.

He began his personal research project in December. In March he completed the compilation of historical facts, highlighting the transformation, historical figures and dates associated with the area’s fairs over time.

His findings are set to be housed at the Vermilion County Museum.

Light said as a 16-year-old he used to deliver livestock feed to patrons in Danville. During his deliveries he would see physical remnants of the I and I Fairgrounds. Later he started collecting Danville memorabilia and seeing old photos, program books and tokens from the fair, which peeked his interest.

As a result, Light’s interest in the I and I Fair turned out to be the probable history of the current Vermilion County Fair and Expo.

“This fair that we have … we can stretch it back to the I and I Fair Association,” Light said. “I think that’s a safe assumption.”

Light’s research comes from court records as well as documents and memorabilia from the Vermilion County Museum, the Illiana Genealogical and Historical Society and the Danville Public Library.

Here are some key dates compiled by Light that show the progression of the I and I Fair and the beginning of the Vermilion County Fair and Expo which continues to this day: