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ILLINOIS STATE FAIR TO OPEN THIS WEEK

(08/07/18)AP

The 160th Illinois State Fair kicks off with concerts, carnival rides, livestock competitions and free entertainment.

The fair runs from this Thursday through Sunday, August 19th, with the Prairie State's Bicentennial celebration as its backdrop. Illinois-born country singer Brett Eldredge leads a Grandstand lineup that also features Boy George, Halestorm, Luke Combs, Ludacris, Foreigner and more.

The deteriorating fairgrounds got a $30 million state-funding boost this year. Roads have been repaved. Agriculture Director Raymond Poe says it will pay to re-roof most buildings and restore the 117-year-old Coliseum for the 2019 fair. It's been closed because of its unsafe condition.

Smokey Bear will welcome visitors to the ever-popular Conservation World. The Paul Bunyan Lumberjack Show will return as will an expanded house to publicize the dwindling monarch butterfly population.