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Veterans take front-and-center spotlight at State Fair Sunday

Fraught with rides, livestock (both the real and butter varieties) and deep-fried Oreo cookies, there were as many reasons as there were guests to head to Springfield for the Illinois State Fair.

Governor Pritzker spoke to a packed pavilion Sunday for a veterans-focused program, specifically recognizing the 178th infantry from Peoria that recently deployed to Afghanistan.

He also had a special thanks to women serving in the armed forces.

“Female veterans are integral to the success of our military. Just as deserving of respect and honor as the men they serve alongside,” said Pritzker.

Later in the afternoon, a veterans parade marching down Grandstand avenue.

While vets were the highlight, there was plenty more to see and hear – including State Karaoke Finalist Sarah Schug from El Paso.

“I sang ‘Feelin’ Good,’ by Michael Buble. It’s just a fun song, I’ve sang it since 6th grade,” she said.

18 singers graced the stage, with the champion getting to open for Reba McEntire in front of a sold-out crowd on the Fair’s last day next Sunday.

Then, there were the calls – for hogs and husbands.

“They call me the Hog Whisperer,” joked Andrew Metheny, though the T-shirt he wore sported the same title.

“I came here for the first time back in 2016, and ended up winning. I was like, this is nuts.”

Metheny even got a call from Hollywood to perform for a hog roast after his first title win years ago.

For a full look at day-by-day and event schedules for the Fair, you can click here.

Mason Dowling

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