Sheldon Geison is used to winning contests at the Illinois State Fair, but the farmer's prizes were on the light side this year and Geison can blame it on the sour economy.
Lawmakers cut back on prize money, maintenance and advertising at the state fair because Illinois is facing a $5 billion budget deficit.
It's a story playing out across the country. Families seeking their annual dose of corn dogs and carnival rides are finding higher ticket prices, fewer exhibits and more expensive food.
Fairs around the country also are hiring fewer inspectors for rides, raising vendor fees and aggressively pursuing deals with corporate sponsors.