ST. CHARLES – Richard George, a longtime vendor at the Kane County Fair, looks forward to the event each year.
“It’s a great program,” said George, owner of George’s Fun Foods, a carnival vending business based in Gibsonton, Fla.
The fair, which is held at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles, will open Wednesday and run through Sunday evening.
“We’ve been a part of each other my entire life,” George said of the Kane County Fair. “ ... When I was younger, I couldn’t wait to get here.”
George grew up attending the fair with his father and grandfather, the original owner of George’s Fun Foods.
“[The Meijer in St. Charles] used to be the [old site] of the Kane County fairground,” George said.
He added that there have been a lot of changes made to the fairgrounds and festival since he was a boy.
“There have been great improvements,” he said. “[The fairgrounds] used to be just gravel. Now there’s blacktop and shade. The trees make it really comfortable. It’s got a great feeling to it. ... It looks like a park out there.”
Another change that George is proud of is an addition to his festival menu, a red velvet funnel cake with a real cream cheese topping.
“My wife and daughter have been playing with it since winter and now have it down to perfection,” George said. “It’s delicious.”
As always, George’s traditional fare will be offered, which includes items such as the jumbo pork chop, corn dog, Italian sausage and cotton candy. “We’ve got a lot of variety,” George said.
Another addition to this year’s fair will be free duck races.
“We’ve never had [duck races] before,” said Larry Breon, Kane County Fair Board president.
But for attendees who crave a little tradition, there will be that, too, Breon said, noting that the fair – now in its 144th year – has developed its “staples.”
Breon said one of the festival’s traditions is pig racing.
“It’s one of the things that people look forward to the most,” he said.
Other popular events are the demolition derby and rodeo.
“The demolition derby, rodeo and races, every fair has to have one of those things. Everyone looks forward to them,” he said.
Big Hat Rodeo shows will take place at 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday. Each show costs $10 to attend. The Smash ’Em Bash ’Em Demolition Derby shows will take place at 2 and 7 p.m. Sunday. Admission to each of those shows is $10.
In addition, the 4-H competitions will be a part of the fair once again. The 4-H program gives young people a chance to show off their wares, whether that be vegetables they’ve grown or livestock they’ve nurtured.
“The Kane County Fair has always been a venue for 4-H members. I still enjoy that part of it,” Breon said. “It’s one of the really important parts of the fair.”
Judging for 4-H will take place daily. Other daily activities for the youngsters will include a petting zoo, game show, lion show and carnival rides.
Musical acts will also take place each day. The Miller Lite Soundstage will host a variety of bands at no cost for audiences. Among those taking the stage will be Hi Infidelity and a group called ABBA Salute.
Also, four groups – Giving Moon, Leslie Hunt, Train Company and Kashmir – will perform on the grandstand starting at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday. Admission to the performances is free.
Breon said he expects about 80,000 people to attend this year’s fair.
George said the event has always had a strong community feel.
“It’s the people of Kane County’s fair,” he said. “This is theirs.”
A brief history of the fair
This is the 144th year of the Kane County Fair.
Although the fair is usually an annual event, it was canceled for a few years during World War II, said Kane County Fair Board President Larry Breon.
The fair used to have more of a focus on agriculture, with multiple exhibits dedicated to farm machinery and livestock pens.
These days, the agricultural headliners are the 4-H judging and shows.
Some of the most popular features of the fair are the racing pigs, which have been a staple for more than 20 years, Breon said.
Both the rodeo and the demolition derby are events that attract fair attendees of all ages.
In the 1950s – when Breon was a boy – most of the fair events were held in large tents instead of buildings. One year, a nighttime storm blew through the fairgrounds and knocked all of the tents over. Miraculously, the livestock survived, Breon said, noting that it was one of his most memorable fair experiences.
– Blair Peters, email@example.com
What: 144th annual Kane County Fair.
Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles.
Admission: $5 for ages 5 and older Wednesday and Thursday and $8 Friday through Sunday. Free admission for children younger than 5. Free admission Wednesday for senior citizens older than 62.
Hours and days: The fair will be open from 3 to 11 p.m. Wednesday; noon to 11 p.m. Thursday; noon to midnight Friday and Saturday; and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Parking details: Parking at the fairgrounds is free. Look for parking entrances at Oak Street and Route 38.
Weather forecast: Partly cloudy with a 30 percent chance of thunderstorms Wednesday and Thursday. Temperatures are expected to stay in the 80s and 90s through Sunday.
Schedule of grandstand events:
Wednesday: Giving Moon and Leslie Hunt will perform at 6:30 p.m. and afterward, followed by Train Company at 7:45 p.m. and Kashmir at 9 p.m. Admission to see any or all of three bands is free.
Thursday: The international truck pull championship will begin at 7 p.m. Admission is $10.
Friday: Championship bull riding begins at 7 p.m., as well as music performed by Luke Kaufman. Admission is $15 for adults and free for children age 7 and younger.
Saturday: Big Hat Rodeo shows begin at 2 and 7 p.m. Admission is $10 for each show.
Sunday: The Smash ’Em Bash ’Em Demolition Derby shows begin at 2 and 7 p.m. Admission is $10.
– Compiled by Shelbi Rodgers, firstname.lastname@example.org.