For 144 years the Kane County Fair and Festival has brought families together to enjoy five days of entertainment and excitement.
Larry Breon, Kane County Fairgrounds president, said many people come to "get their carnival food fix," but they stay for the other attractions, which include amusement rides, shows, music and competitions.
If you goWhat: Kane County Fair and Festival
When: Wednesday, July 18, to Sunday, July 22. Fairground hours: fairgrounds, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday; 8:30 a.m. to midnight Thursday and Friday; 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday. Midway 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
Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, between routes 64 and 38, St. Charles; parking entrances at Oak Street and Route 38
Admission: $5 Wednesday and Thursday; $8 Friday through Sunday; $20 five-day season pass. Seniors are free Wednesday and children 4 and younger are free every day.
Details: www.KaneCountyFair.com or call (630) 584-6926
The fairgrounds are open all day for the 4-H competitions and rides. Shows and activities start at noon Thursday through Sunday on the Midway. On Wednesday, the Midway will kick off the fest at 3 p.m.
This year, the fair brought in The Big Cat Encounter. Clayton Rosaire and his pet lion Tyler will amaze the crowds in this entertainment act, as Clayton directs Tyler through different tricks. A new duck race was also added thanks to the popularity of the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, which inspired the festival organizers to add another animal race.
Breon said many event times are not scheduled until the day starts.
"(It) works the best for people doing the show and it works best for people watching the show," Breon said. The races, lion encounter, magic show and the popular canine comedy show all will perform multiple times each day.
"They just keep rotating around," he said.
Breon thinks the Kane County Fair tops other local festivals because there is so much to offer.
"The 4-H part is probably dearest to my heart," he said. He competed when he was young and said he enjoys watching the tradition live on from generation to generation.
Breon said 4-H is the biggest part of the fair. More than 500 contestants participate in 4-H activities. 4-H will have judges around everyday to assess each animal in the competition. The nonagricultural competitions will be judged in the exhibition hall or have already been rated.
Judging will also be present in the craft show. Marge Skala, 81, of St. Charles has been volunteering with the craft show for more than 40 years.
"Everything is handmade," Skala said.
Some people will even sell their products after judging. Skala participates in the hobbies, crafts and home economic categories, too. She has more than 150 entries in the show, including her knitting, crochet and quilted pieces.
"My husband helps me ... he gives me a lot of encouragement," she said.
Skala said she enjoys volunteering at the fair in the same way that someone who enjoys baseball likes to watch a game. Her daughter, Vicki Akemann, 61, of St. Charles, also helps set up the show.
"She's been doing this with me since she was 8 years old ... I couldn't do it without her," Skala said.
On Friday, a bull riding show will take place, and on Saturday the Big Hat Rodeo from Missouri will amaze the crowds. Sunday will feature the Smash Em Bash Em Demolition Derby.
"It's your chance to smash up vehicles and no one cares," Breon said. "It's a boxing ring with cars. Demo derby, rodeo and pig racing -- can't have a fair without them."
Festivals are also known for musical entertainment, and the Kane County Fair will have 13 bands performing throughout the week. Hillbilly Rockstarz will perform country music at 8 p.m. Thursday, July 19. Hi Infidelity, an '80s rock cover band, will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, July 20. And Saturday will bring audiences a great musical journey with 7th Heaven at 8 p.m.
Although there is an extra charge for some grandstand shows, like the truck pull, bull riding, Big Hat Rodeo and demolition derby, "you can do a lot of things for free," Breon said.
Many of the entertainment shows and musical acts are free for anyone to enjoy.
Deals will be available for all-day unlimited rides at the carnival area. On Wednesday and Thursday, anyone can buy the $15 deal that allows them access to all fair grounds and the carnival. Friday through Sunday, patrons can buy a $20 unlimited carnival bracelet between noon and 5 p.m. On Sunday, starting at 6 p.m., there is a $12 Last Blast deal for all rides until midnight.
Breon has served as president for at least 20 years and each year he strives to make this festival better. Numerous volunteers help make it a reality, and Breon estimated more than 100 people dedicate time to make the fair the best it can be. Each year the fair attracts 60,000 to 70,000 visitors.
"I just hope everyone comes out and enjoys it," he said.
The Kane County Fair and Festival is Wednesday, July 18, through Sunday, July 22, at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road, St. Charles. Wednesday is a $5 admission and Thursday through Sunday is $8. Children younger than 5 are admitted free all days, and seniors 62 and older receive free entry Wednesday. A $20 five-day pass is also available.
For details, visit www.KaneCountyFair.com or call (630) 584-6926.