After 163 years, the Illinois State Fair is always adding traditions. New this year is the Hometown Hero Award, recognizing people who "perform selfless acts, overcome incredible odds and reach milestone achievements."
The inaugural winner is a teenager Eric Mason.
Eric just graduated from Springfield's Lanphier High School. And on Saturday, he left to begin college at Stanford University. That means he won't be around to partake in the glory, like joining the Grand Marshal to lead the Illinois State Fair Parade on Thursday, that comes along with being the "hometown hero."
But he was recognized last week at a fair preview day.
Statehouse Bureau Chief Amanda Vinicky caught up with him there, and asked Mason to share his journey.