In the wake of this summer's widespread heat and drought, the organizers of the Kane County Fair have prepared for a sweltering five days under the sun. AccuWeather.com predicts temperatures climbing from high 80s back up to the mid-90s by Sunday when the fair concludes.
While usual summer heat is always a reality for the annual event, fair board chair Larry Breon said he is grateful for the air conditioning available on the fair grounds, a relatively new addition to the property. The air-conditioned Prairie Events Center was first used for the fair in 2010, and this year, the fairgrounds' Robinson Hall is also equipped with AC.
"We can't control the temperature," he said. "But that's 17,000 square feet of air conditioning we didn't have before."
Kane County Sheriff Pat Perez said hydration is key in this weather. The St. Charles Police Department and paramedics will be on hand if heat exhaustion progresses.
"In terms of public safety, we have to make sure people stay hydrated," Perez said. "There is the possibility of heat stroke so we work closely with paramedics."
Besides fairgoers, many livestock and their owners have found innovative ways to keep cool. Rachel Sorenson, a Sugar Grove 4-H member, freezes water in jugs or two-liter soda bottles and gives them to her eight mini lap rabbits, up for judging in Thursday's competition.
"This keeps them cool, along with the fans," she said. "We also try not to pick them up."
Animal barns from chickens to swine boast industrial sized fans to keep the animals cool. Pigs were breathing heavily on Wednesday as they were judged, and many let out squeals as they were splashed with water to keep cool.
Thursday at the fair: Thursday is the first full day of the Kane County Fair. In addition to carnival rides, games and food, there will be two live music performances by Miller's Hometown Band and Hillbilly Rockstarz on the Soundstage at 6 and 8 p.m., respectively. The beer garden -- which is free with a $12 gate admission -- opens at 2 p.m.
The night's main event is the International Truck Pull Championship, which starts at 7 p.m. It costs $10 to get in.