County fairs beckon with music, food, and fun
By Annie Alleman For Sun-Times Media July 12, 2012 3:48PM
Last year's participants show off their open class sheep during judging. | DUPAGE COUNTY FAIR
Updated: August 7, 2012 10:18AM
Tractor pulls, demolition derbies, country music and rodeos. Not just items on a good old boy’s bucket list, but trappings of a proper county fair.
With mid-summer comes fair time all across the country, and here’s a guide to county fairs in our neck of the woods.
Kane County Fair
Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles
When: July 18-22
Hours: 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesday; noon to 11 p.m. Thursday; noon to midnight Friday and Saturday; noon to 10 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $5 Wednesday; $8 Thursday through Sunday. Free for children under 5. Seniors free on Wednesday. Season tickets $20
Contact: (630) 584-6926 or visit Kanecountyfair.com
Parking: Free parking with entrances at Oak Street, Route 38 and Route 64
The Kane County Fair is at heart an old-fashioned county fair with all of its charm and trappings.
Carnival? Check. 4-H kids showing projects? Check. Demolition Derby and rodeo? Check and check.
Things don’t change much at the fair, held this year from July 18 to 22 at the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, said fair board president Larry Breon.
New this year will be bands playing on the grandstand instead of on the traditional Miller Lite Sound Stage, he said.
Three will play on Wednesday night; including Giving Moon, Train Comp and the Led Zeppelin tribute act Kasmir headlining.
“It’s probably been five years since we’ve had a music show on the grandstand,” he said. “You keep looking for different things to change it up. The people coming to the fair want to see something different and we want to put on something different.”
Returning grandstand entertainment is the International Truck Pull on Thursday and Championship Bull Riding on Friday. These are popular events that you don’t mess with, he said.
“Saturday, we have the full-fledged Big Hat Rodeo, and Sunday is the Smash ‘Em Bash ‘Em Demolition Derby,” he said. “Demolition derbies are a staple of fairs all over the world. It seems everyone likes that one.”
Grandstand entertainment costs an additional $10 nightly; $12 on Friday (kids 7 and under are free.)
The Miller Lite Sound Stage entertainment is free; and features Tropixlosion and In The Flesh on July 18, Hometown Band and Hillbilly Rockstars July 19, Libido Funk Circus and Hi Infidelity on July 20, Abba Salute and 7th Heaven on July 21, and The Neverly Brothers and Wedding Banned on July 22.
There are plenty of free acts on the grounds; like Swift Swine racing pigs, KidsBucks show, Miller Petting Zoo, Kiddy Land with younger age-appropriate rides and games, Mutts Gone Nuts dog show and comedy act, Sheer Magic and more.
“We try to make it fan-friendly so people can plan their day and figure out where they want to go,” he said.
The Fantasy Amusements carnival — another staple of a county fair — runs throughout. There are discount days and wristband specials.
“It’s really expensive to ride these rides if you just buy a ticket, so we’re trying to bundle it up a little bit,” he said. “It really is a pretty reasonable venue to come out with the family and walk around and have a good time. We’re trying to make it valuable economically so the whole family can enjoy it and doesn’t break the bank.”
4-H is still a big part of the fair, he said. More than 1,000 4-H kids will exhibit everything from poultry and swine to photography and cooking.
“It’s great for the children,” he said. “They’re a big part of the fair.”
There’s also an open class.
Other entertainment includes a Kane County talent show, with winners performing at 3 p.m. Saturday on the Miller Lite Soundstage.
Traditional fair food will be featured, like elephant ears and lemonade shake-ups, plus some sandwiches and pizza.
“We’re hoping people come out and see bands on the grandstand and some of the different acts going on ... and we hope everyone has a good time.”
DuPage County Fair
Where: DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
When: July 25-29
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
Cost: $8; $3 children 3-12; children 2 and under free. Season pass $25. Seniors 62 years and older free until 3 p.m. July 25-27
Contact: (630) 668-6636 or visit Dupagecountyfair.org
Rising country music star Kip Moore kicks off the DuPage County Fair July 25 with an 8 p.m. performance. He is known for his single, “Somethin’ ’Bout a Truck.” The cost is $20 to see Kip Moore.
New to the DuPage County Fair this year is Festiva de Musica at 7 p.m. July 26 with headline act Conjunto Atardecer at 8:30 p.m. The cost is $10.
Returning is the Spirits of DuPage wine tasting event at 6:30 p.m. July 27. For $40, which includes admission to the fair, visitors can sample several wines and beers and enjoy appetizers and a performance by Back Country Roads.
The high-flying daredevils with the U.S. FMX National Championship Series perform colon-clenching stunts while launching motorcycles 70-plus feet through the air. Show times are at 2 and 7 p.m. July 28. The cost is $7.
The grandstand entertainment concludes with the crowd favorite, the demolition derby at 2 and 7 p.m. July 29. The cost is $7.
Additionally, there will be a Give a Goat fund drive to benefit people in Jeremie, Haiti; a St. Baldrick’s event at noon July 28, and the second annual dog adoption event.
Finally, a Log House, the world’s oldest wooden dwelling, will be on display. It was featured at the World’s Fair. The fully-furnished three-room home is more than 1,900 years old.
The free Ag-Ventureland returns and promises to be bigger and better than ever. Ag-Ventureland attractions include milking a cow, making a rope, shelling corn, grinding corn kernels, touching reptiles and woodcarving.
There will also be a working blacksmith, camel and pony rides, baby chicks hatching, a DuPage County Forest Preserve exhibit on an active bee hive, a maple syrup exhibit, orchids exhibit, a cornbox, antiques tractors, pedal tractors, a petting zoo and more.
The camel and pony rides cost $5.
Bands and musicians will play throughout the fair in Ag-Ventureland also. The finalists in the DuPage County Fair Talent Show will perform at 10 a.m. July 28 in the tent.
The DuPage County Fair will once again feature many cook-off contests; such as salsa, salad, lasagna and chocolate dessert. The first place winner of that particular contest wins $150 and Ghirardelli gift basket. All entries must be received by July 20.
The second annual Photography Shoot-Out contest will be July 25. The first 20 contestants ages 18 and older who register will use their own digital cameras and be given one hour to capture images on the fairgrounds. Their best shot will be judged by a professional photographer.
Finally, there’s the ever-popular Kidsbucks Game Show, Balster’s Sheer Magic show and pig races.
As if all of that isn’t enough, the carnival returns with daily specials.
Fair and 4-H Show
Where: County Fairgrounds at 10826 Illinois Route 71, Yorkville
When: Aug. 2-5
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday and Friday, 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday
Cost: $7 for adults; $3 for children ages 5-13; $4 for seniors 62 and up
Contact: (630) 553-2860 or visit Kendallcountyfair.com.
New to the Kendall County Fair this year are lawn mower races sponsored by the American Racing Motor Association, said Mike Drendel, president of the Kendall County Fair Board. This is his 21st year on the board.
“It’s six different classes of people racing on the arena,” he said. “They will race through the afternoon.”
This year’s fair salutes the military by offering anyone in active duty free admission to the Kendall County Fair. Operation Troop Aid will be on hand to accept Wal-Mart gift cards which will be used to purchase supplies for men and women deployed overseas. (Please attach a gift receipt along with the card.)
All entertainment at the fair is free with paid admission. Musical acts include Back Country Roads on Aug. 2 and the Voo Davis Blues Band and headlining act, Nashville country music star D.J. Miller, on Aug. 4.
“Friday (Aug. 4) we have the truck and tractor pull, tow tracks,” he said. “And that’s always exciting. We always get about 110 to 115 participants, and because of having two tracks, we have somebody pulling something all the time.”
The truck and tractor pull is still the most popular grandstand entertainment, followed closely by the demolition derby Aug. 5, he said.
“Those are two big events for us,” he said. “There seems to be a lot of interest in the lawn mower races. We’re getting a lot of calls and questions about that. Saturday will be an interesting day for us.”
Other entertainment includes the Big Air Insanity Moto Cross Show on Aug. 4 and the demolition derby on Aug. 5.
Kendall County 4-H members will compete in dog and cat shows, small animal shows, livestock and horse shows; plus categories such as horticulture, floriculture, clothing and textiles; Food and Nutrition; Plants and Soils; Engineering and Technology; and Visual Arts. Winners receive ribbons, trophies and a chance to compete at the State Fair.
Carnival entertainment is provided by The Great American Carnival which runs daily throughout the fair. Check the website for ticket prices and specials.
Other events at the fair include a magician, an antique tractor parade, open mic karaoke, livestock auction, kid’s pedal pull, Harding’s Chainsaw Log Carving, petting zoo and pony rides, Buttons the Clown, face painting, a kid’s tent, beer garden and food booths.
“We’re just trying to make a nice family atmosphere,” he said. “It’s just a nice, nice fair. The setting is beautiful and we get a lot of nice comments from people that this is a real county fair.”
Will County Fair
When: Aug. 22-26
Where: 710 West St., (Wilmington-Peotone Road), Peotone
Cost: $4, children under 10 are free
Contact: (708) 258-9359 or visit willcountyfair.org
The 109th annual Will County Fair features a tractor pull, demolition derby, rodeo, live music and the third annual chili cook-off.
Aug. 22 is Family Day at the fair. Carnival rides cost $1.50 apiece or 16 for $20. Children can participate in the fifth annual ping pong ball drop at 5:30 p.m. Aug. 23 is Senior Citizens and Veterans Day, where those people enjoy $2 admission. It’s “Ride-a-thon Night” at the carnival, where from 4 to 11 p.m. unlimited carnival rides cost $20. The truck and tractor pull will be at 6:30 p.m. The cost is $8.
Aug. 24 is Demolition Derby Day, with the Nationwide Demolition Derby set for 7:30 p.m. The cost is $9. It’s also Dollar Day, where carnival rides cost $1 from 1 to 5 p.m. Aug. 25 is Democrat Day and Demolition Derby Day 2. In the entertainment tent, a local radio station hosts a Sock Hop at 3 p.m. The Will County 4-H Livestock Auction will be at 5:30 p.m. A chicken droppin’ bingo game will be played after the auction.
The Nationwide Demolition Derby will be at 7 p.m. in the grandstand. The cost is $9.
Aug. 26 is Republican Day, and features a baby show at 1:30 p.m. for children ages six to 36 months. The Chili Cook-off begins at 8 a.m., with judging at 3 p.m.
The Will County Fair Rodeo is at 2 p.m. The cost is $8.
In the Beer Garden, the band Black Cadillac performs Aug. 23, with Gone Country performing the other nights.
Each day features appearances by “Buford Bear” and his Miniature Truck, and the Dixie Jam Band and the All Star Music Machine appear nightly in the beer garden.
Illinois State Fair
When: Aug. 9-19
Where: 801 E. Sangamon Ave., State Fairgrounds, Springfield
Hours: 7 a.m. to midnight daily
Cost: $7; $3 for children ages 5-12 and seniors 60 and older; children 4 and under free. Parking costs $7.
Contact: (217) 782-6661 or visit Agr.state.il.us/isf
The Steve Miller Band headlines the 2012 Illinois State Fair, which runs from Aug. 9 to 19. Other grandstand acts include country music star Miranda Lambert performing Aug. 18, with her own opening act, Pistol Annies.
Cheap Trick, Night Ranger and the Georgia Satellites perform Aug. 17, and Creed plays Aug. 16. It’s a mini-homecoming for rock band Train who play Aug. 15 — guitarist Jimmy Stafford is from Morris.
The legendary Charlie Daniels Band will play Aug. 14, Christian rapper TobyMac performs Aug. 12, and Demi Lovato and Hot Chelle Rae play Aug. 10. The fair opens Aug. 9 with country singers Eric Church and Aaron Lewis.
All grandstand entertainment beings at 7:30 p.m. Check the website for ticket prices.
The Illinois State Fair is jam-packed with activities. There are break dancers, magicians, chainsaw artists, comedy acts, a farmer’s market, snake show, bands and singers, puppets, clowns and cooking contests. Kids can let loose on a climbing wall, BB gun or archery range, or try out a fishing clinic.
Other fair highlights include motocross, a demolition derby, truck and tractor pull, chili cook-off and dead lift competition.
A $55 mega pass to the carnival is available through July 14. It is valid for all 11 days of the fair in the main carnival midway and the Adventure Village. Check the web site for other carnival prices and wristband specials.