SPRINGFIELD — Gov.-elect Bruce Rauner has not only decided to go with an inaugural concert in place of the traditional ball, but he also has added an entirely new event to the celebratory weekend to showcase Illinois businesses.
The Illinois Inauguration 2015 Committee is calling the Jan. 11-12 event, "Illinois is Back Exposition 2015.” The expo will be set up in front of the Prairie Capital Convention Center in downtown Springfield with several food trucks, stands and prominent Illinois businesses.
With the Toby Keith concert at the tail end of the expo, which promises to give off a street fair vibe, the traditional inaugural weekend may feel more like it’s time for the state fair again.
One block of East Washington Street, between Eighth and ninth streets, will be closed to traffic. That area will offer a large heated tent where the exposition festivities will take place.
Businesses participating in the event include grain processor Archer Daniels Midland, Peoria-based heavy equipment maker Caterpillar, the Cracked Egg food truck from Champaign and 17th Street BBQ from Murphysboro.
Becky Streuter, catering manager at 17th Street BBQ, said she is looking forward to the event and has not been to anything like it. Streuter said she received a call about the event in December, and she has been preparing to serve around 500 people in the three hours her stand will be open the night of the concert.
Rauner, a Republican businessman from Winnetka, is planning to attend a number of events on inaugural weekend, including a Sunday dinner in the Capitol rotunda and Monday's swearing-in ceremony.
Tickets are still available for the events, but the Rauner transition committee said Monday that maximum capacity is approaching. Businesses can still enter into the expo by emailing IllinoisIsBack@BruceRauner.com.