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posted: 7/20/2012 3:05 PM

84th Lake County Fair to feature traditional events, new attractions

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  • Gilbert R. Boucher II/, 2011A demolition derby is on tap again this year at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

      Gilbert R. Boucher II/, 2011A demolition derby is on tap again this year at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

  • Gilbert R. Boucher II/, 2011Rides are a big attraction at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

      Gilbert R. Boucher II/, 2011Rides are a big attraction at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

  • George LeClaire/, 2011Visitors can see plenty of animals at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

      George LeClaire/, 2011Visitors can see plenty of animals at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

By Abby Scalf

Some people come to the Lake County Fair each year to check out the livestock barns, get excited at the demolition derby or to dine on corn dogs.

This year, what about checking out some flowers, watching monster trucks or eating pig wings?

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The Lake County Fair continues many of the traditions started 84 years ago, but visitors can also experience some new attractions during the fair, which runs Wednesday through Sunday at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake.

"The fair is filled with tradition, and the heart of the fair really is our 4-H exhibits, the livestock and the animals," said the fair's general manager Sheri Vyfvinkel. "But as an urban day fair, it's also important to offer new attractions and to keep things fresh every year."

Among the new attractions, Flower Show Productions, producers of the annual Chicago Flower & Garden Show, will present a new garden show within the fair. The outdoor show will be open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The show will blend horticulture with agriculture and will feature outdoor gardens created by area landscape designers. Garden vignettes, including in-ground, raised-bed, trellis or container, will feature perennials and annuals appropriate for the Midwest. Visit the marketplace to purchase garden and related products and services, watch demonstrations and get advice from the pros.

The Lake County Farm Bureau will introduce a new children's area called "Ag Adventure" in the Expo Center. Vyfvinkel said these hands-on activities will teach kids about agriculture and the importance of agriculture in their lives.

For those who want to watch something move faster than cows and sheep, the fair offers the pro motocross, truck and tractor pulls and the demolition derby. This year, there's a new attraction on wheels. Organized by Monster Truck Nationals, two monster truck shows will take the arena at 2:30 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday.

"For the show we will be putting on, it could easily cost $25 to $30 anywhere else," Vyfvinkel said. "Before each show, there will be a pit party where guests can get driver autographs and take rides in the Raminator. We are thrilled to have that this year."

Competitions offer something for every skill level and craft. This year, the fair will go Hollywood as aspiring filmmakers share their films in the inaugural film competition. Lake and Cook County residents of all ages were invited to submit their entries through July 9.

Winning entries, chosen by a panel of judges, will be shown daily on the new pavilion stage. Entries include short subject and feature-length documentaries, narrative and animated. A prize ceremony and talk-back with the judges will take place from 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday.

Organized by the Lake County Farm Bureau since 1928, the fair continues the area's celebration of its agricultural heritage. Visitors can enjoy the day listening to live music or watching a magic act. Visit farm animals in four livestock barns and watch the livestock auctions, then try out carnival rides, games, food, blue-ribbon competitions, bingo and shopping.

While checking out all the attractions, try out some standard and new foods. Among the new vendors will be Woodstock-based Porkie's, which will feature barbecue and pig wings. If trying the pig wings isn't enough, enter a pig wing eating contest. The finals will take place Sunday, July 29. The grand prize winner will receive a free pig roast for 100 people and $100 cash. Second prize wins a $50 gift certificate. Another new vendor will be Up Top Tropics from Pleasant Prairie, Wis., with 42 flavors of shaved Hawaiian ice.

The fair also features some new ticket offerings. The Family Fair Pack, available daily, is $25 and includes tickets for two children and two adults. Visitors can purchase individual tickets Wednesday through Friday for $8.

"It's important for us to be able to make this a place for families to come and feel they are getting a full-day experience at a reasonable price," Vyfvinkel said.

There also is a new way to travel to the fair. On the weekend, bus shuttles will operate between the fairgrounds and the Prairie Crossing Metra Station, 3001 W. Midlothian Road in Libertyville. Both the Metra Milwaukee District North and North Central Service rail lines stop at Prairie Crossing.

The Lake County Fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday; and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday. For information, visit the website at

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