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2023 Friends of Illinois County Fairs

The distinguished Friends of Illinois County Fairs award went to four worthy individuals at the 2023 IAAF annual convention. Award winners were acknowledged for their service to agriculture, county fairs and youth.

Cindi Mielke values the role the Stephenson County Fair plays in helping young people grow and develop through 4-H as they connect through the fair. She is a well deserving candidate for the Friend of the Fair Award. She grew up participating in 4-H and her annual county fair. She has continued as a volunteer for over 30 years, starting with the Stephenson County Beef Association.

In 1999, Cindi became the 4-H Coordinator for the Stephenson County. While working with the Stephenson County Fair Board, Cindi was approached by Jeff Blomsness with All Star Amusements, and asked to start a Lost Children’s Tent for parents and children to reunite when they were separated on the Midway. Cindi worked with Highland College and the Retried Senior Volunteer Program to provide this service at no cost to the fair. It has also become a place for seniors to stop and visit as well as volunteer.

Cindi has also served the past 10 years as Pageant Director for Stephenson County, and as the secretary-treasurer of the Northern Zone for the past 10 years.

John, Steve, Dave and Brian Gallano of Belvidere were recognized for their backbone of support for the Boone County Fair. The family has spearheaded several projects, most recently the installation of new flag poles at the Grandstand. Other projects include new lighting around the track, new lighting and fencing at the draft horse arena, maintaining and upgrading roads. All the projects were done with the bulk of expenses covered by the Gallano family.

Brothers John and Steve Gallano operate Gallano Farms. Dave and Brian, Steve’s sons, operate Gallano Trucking. Steve and Dave (father/son) also are part of the Sheriff’s patrol that provide security for the fair. From pumper trucks to street sweepers, the Gallano family is there to help when needed.

For 57 years, Pence Oil Company of Watseka has provided gas to the Iroquois County Agricultural and 4-H Club Fair Association located in Crescent City, free of charge. Jim and Lucille Pence established the company in 1965. Today it is owned and operated by Terry Pence and Rick Moyer. Due to their generosity, the fair’s maintenance equipment, mowers, senior shuttles, tractors and machines for the demo derby and tractor pulls are all filled with fuel, on time and at the hour of need. Despite rising gas prices, the company continued to supply fuel.

Pence Oil Company and their families have actively supported the Iroquois County Fair in many others ways as well – contributing to the queen pageant, exhibiting tea rings for the bake sale and participating in events. They are considered priceless in their willingness to volunteer and help.

In the spring of 2011, Cindy Salisbury of Henry, IL, approached the Marshall-Putnam County Fair with the idea of a family fun night during the fair. It was her dream to offer an event where local families could come to the fair and enjoy an evening of fun at little or no cost. The event has grown every year. Cindy dedicates countless hours to make the event happens, from canvassing the area for local financial support to scheduling various activities and soliciting volunteers from the area and neighboring counties. Each year she brings back family favorites and adds additional attractions to reach more age groups and keep fairgoers coming back.

Cindy has also taken on the responsibility of designing and creating a float for the 4th of July parade to advertise the upcoming fair.

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