- Associated Press - Tuesday, April 22, 2014

SPRINGFIELD, Ill. (AP) - Illinois State Fair organizers decided not to overhaul the state’s celebration of agriculture and entertainment for 2014, announcing Tuesday that the theme is “Making Memories” and that popular hip-hop artist Pitbull had been added to the concert lineup.

There are a few changes, fair officials noted, such as an expansion of some recently added events and a new food contest, but popular standbys like the giant slide and butter cow aren’t going anywhere.

“We don’t have to reinvent the wheel every year. We need to do everything we do, and make it one step better every year,” State Fair Manager Amy Bliefnick said at a news conference on the Grandstand stage at the fairgrounds in Springfield.

The annual event is widely considered a boon to the local economy. Fair officials released a study Tuesday that shows last year’s state fair generated $2.7 million in sales tax revenue and pumped $86 million into the Springfield-area economy, according to University of Illinois’ Institute of Government and Public Affairs research.

For this year’s fair, Pitbull, whose recent hits include “Timber” with pop singer Kesha, will be perform on Aug. 9. The cast of Million Dollar Quartet - a musical about Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Jerry Lee Lewis, and Carl Perkins - is also scheduled to return for a free concert Aug. 11.

Other acts already announced include Florida Georgia Line, Boston, Steely Dan, Jake Owen and the finalists from “American Idol.”

The fair additions aren’t limited to music. The CrossFit competition - a combination of running, weightlifting and gymnastics - will expand to a two-day event after debuting last year with about 300 participants and 1,000 spectators. Additionally, the Springfield Journal-Register is hosting a new food contest that organizers hope will encourage vendors to create new and “wacky” fair foods.

But with all of the added attractions, one thing hasn’t changed in the state fair’s 161-year history.

“I think it’s fitting that the fair continues because agriculture, of course, is our No. 1 industry,” Illinois Agriculture Director Bob Flider said.

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