DuPage County could ban circuses at county fairgrounds

  • Residents are calling on DuPage County to consider whether circuses should be allowed at the county fairgrounds in Wheaton because they fear animals are being mistreated.

    Residents are calling on DuPage County to consider whether circuses should be allowed at the county fairgrounds in Wheaton because they fear animals are being mistreated. Daily Herald file photo, 2004

 
 
Updated 5/28/2019 5:12 PM

Circuses and other traveling shows that don't treat animals humanely could be barred from the fairgrounds in DuPage County in the next few years.

There were protests this weekend outside the fairgrounds in Wheaton, which was the site of a traveling circus. On Tuesday, four residents who participated in the demonstrations urged county board members to ban circuses at the county-owned property along Manchester Road.

 

"Animals who are used in these shows are exploited," Naperville resident Kerin Smith said. "More often than not, they are abused."

Mary Edwards of Wheaton said she wants her city and county to be held to high standards.

"I want to show the state of Illinois that we do believe we are a humane county," she said.

The residents addressed the county board during the public comment portion of the meeting.

Board members don't normally respond, but on Tuesday, they did.

Sadia Covert said later in the meeting that the board should have a discussion about the treatment of animals at the fairgrounds.

"Animals don't have voices," said Covert, a Naperville Democrat. "We are humans, and we're their only voice."

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County board Chairman Dan Cronin called for the issue to be addressed when the county inks a new deal with the DuPage County Fair Association.

The association is a nonprofit group that organizes the county fair and leases the fairgrounds. The county in the coming year is expected to draft a new lease that would take effect when the existing deal expires in fall 2020.

County officials say they want the next lease to be more specific on what the association can and cannot do with the land.

"The lease gives them too much discretion," said Cronin, an Oak Brook Republican. "We need to tighten up that lease and prohibit certain activities."

Cronin said he specifically wants the next lease to prohibit circuses and other traveling shows that don't comply with rules and regulations for the proper treatment of animals.

County board member Brian Krajewski, chairman of DuPage's animal services committee, said the panel is talking about asking Wheaton to ban circuses. The Downers Grove Republican said the committee also will recommend changes to the fairgrounds lease.

County board member Jim Healy, chairman of the board's public works committee, said the panel already has spent two years reviewing possible changes to the lease.

The Naperville Republican said the committee will consider Cronin's suggestion. However, Healy said putting too many restrictions on the fair association could hamper its ability to generate revenue at the fairgrounds.

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