ST. CHARLES – As Kane County Fair attendees on Saturday indulged in sweets and stood in line for such amusements as the fun house and Ferris wheel, 17-year-old Joe Miller sat near the first aid station, ready to help those who became sick or injured.
On average, he said, one person has needed help every hour, usually with cuts and scrapes or heat-related issues such as dehydration.
"Drink water, more than anything else," Miller said of what fairgoers should do this weekend to stay well.
Admission to the Kane County Fair is $8. There is free admission for children younger than 5. The fairgrounds are along Randall Road between Routes 64 and 38 in St. Charles. Parking is free.
Earlier in the week, fairgoers could save on admission by bringing a non-perishable food item. Donations filled four skids, organizers said. The skids were split between two food pantries.
"We are very grateful to everyone who donated four skids of non-perishable food to help our fellow neighbors," Larry Breon, Kane County Fair board president, said in a written statement.
"Our community is in desperate need of food this summer, and we were happy to donate their generosity with the Interfaith Food Pantry in Elgin and FISH (Friends I Shall Help) in Carpentersville."
The fair, which began Wednesday morning, is set to close at 10 p.m. Sunday.
By Sunday night, Miller said he will have spent 26 hours at the fair. He and 13 other young adults are providing first aid at the event as part of the Elburn and Countryside Fire Protection District Explorer Post 1357.
The Explorer program gives teens "a doorway to the fire service," Miller said, explaining they learn medical and firefighting skills, among others.
Senior adviser Rob Stevens, a firefighter and paramedic for the fire district, said this is the first year the Explorers are working the Kane County Fair. The money the fair gives them for their services will go toward training equipment for the post, he and Miller said.
Friday afternoon, Stevens and Miller manned the small air conditioned first aid station on the east side of the fairgrounds, waiting for their services to be needed.
They were ready to help fairgoers who came to them, such as those needing a bandage for a blister, and they rose from their chairs the moment they heard a girl was sick near a funnel cake booth.
"I'm really proud of these guys," Stevens said of the Explorers. "They're the future of the fire service."
That's especially true of Miller. The recent Geneva High School graduate, along with several other Explorer graduates, are set to start as paid-on-call personnel in September, Stevens said.
Those interested in becoming an Explorer may call Stevens at 630-365-6855, he said. Participants must be 14 to 20.