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SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois officials say this year's state fair had the highest attendance levels in more than a decade.

The governor's office says Thursday that more than 961,000 people attended the fair during its 11-day run this month.

That's up almost 5 percent from last year and the highest since 2002, when 1.2 million people went through the fair's gates.

Ticket sales for concerts at the fair's Grandstand topped $2 million, up more than 29 percent from last year to a new record. More than 53,000 fans attended concerts at this year's fair. The most popular performance was by country musician Toby Keith.

The fair ended Aug. 18.

Published in Local News

SEDALIA, Mo. (AP) - Controversy over a rodeo clown who mocked President Barack Obama isn't keeping Gov. Jay Nixon away from the annual governor's ham breakfast at the Missouri State Fair.

Plenty of other executive officials and lawmakers also attended the event at the fairgrounds in Sedalia on Thursday.

The ham breakfast is only part of the allure. The event also offers the opportunity for politicians to shake hands with hundreds of rural Missourians in an informal atmosphere.

Earlier this week, many Missouri officials denounced a rodeo skit in which a clown wore an Obama mask while another riled the crowd with statements suggesting the president could be run down by a bull.

Lawmakers at the fair said they plan to continue funding the fair.

Published in Local News

BOONVILLE, Mo. (AP) - The president of the Missouri Rodeo Cowboy Association has resigned after getting flak about a State Fair event that mocked President Barack Obama.

An attorney for Boonville School Superintendent Mark Ficken said Tuesday that his client resigned from the rodeo association to protest its response to the Saturday incident.

Ficken was the rodeo announcer.

But attorney Albert Watkins says it was a rodeo clown wearing a microphone - not Ficken - who riled up the crowd as a bull chased a man wearing an Obama mask. The act was widely criticized by Missouri officials as disrespectful of Obama.

Watkins says Ficken resigned because the association had not barred the rodeo clown from its group.

The Boonville School District is hiring an investigator to look into Ficken's role in the event.

Published in Local News

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