I've heard a story that at a recent Illinois State Fair board meeting, one member was said to have leaned back in his chair and said to the Director, perhaps with a southern accent, "Philip, there are about three major things that directors have been trying to do for years, and you've got 'em all done. I don't know how you're doing it…but I like it."
As it turns out, the story of the how is almost as interesting as the results it produced. Take the bathrooms in the junior livestock building. They've been chained shut during the fair for years. This makes people who show livestock mildly to mostly irritated. IDOA director Philip Nelson knew this because his family shows livestock.
After he became director, he took a look at the paperwork. He met with the folks who lease the building earlier this year and suggested they open the bathrooms during the 10 days of the state fair.
And just like that, the bathrooms will be open.
The stories of how some of these changes have come to be come down to a couple things in my mind. Number one, we have an ag director who is a farmer and who is passionately engaged. He wants to see good things happen. He believes in agriculture. He believes in the people of agriculture.
Number two, we have an ag director who is a natural leader and who has extensive experience getting stuff done. This is in sharp contrast to most everything else that happens in Springfield in 2015. So when you put someone like that into a position where very little has been done for a very long time, he's been able to say, "Let's do X, Y and Z," and then he corrals the people and resources to make it happen. In short, he cleaned house, organized what was left, hired the right people and told them what he wanted done.
And just like that, the bathrooms get opened. The Ag Tent gets moved. The drones fly. The exhibitors are back in focus. The governor is in the barn. The tours are organized. State fair visitors will know about ag.
Frankly, it kinda makes you wonder what will happen next.
See You at the Fair Series
See You at the Fair: How stuff gets done