There's hardly anything more American than apple pie, fireworks or a hot summer day spent at the county fair.
The nostalgia of a fair practically knocks you off your feet -- the childhood memories of your father taking you by the hand as you hold cotton candy in the other, or of riding the Ferris wheel that seemed like it touched heaven.
If you goWhat: DuPage County Fair
When: Wednesday through Sunday, July 25 to 29
Where: 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
Admission: $8 for adults, $3 for ages 3-12, free for younger children; free for seniors 62 and older until 3 p.m. Wednesday, Thursday and Friday; $1 for ages 3-12 Wednesday only; season pass $25
Or maybe you're brought back to your teenage years, when it was the cool thing to roam the fairgrounds and win a teddy bear for your budding love interest.
And the beautiful thing about the county fair is just that -- it transcends age boundaries, offering something for the kid in us all. Better still, those memories don't have to be just a faint hint of the past.
Instead, they are passed down generation to generation, and our own recollections become a blend of old and new.
The folks who attend the DuPage County Fair, which runs Wednesday through Sunday, July 25 to 29, in Wheaton, are a testament to that.
Take Andy Winckler, for example, who is now a fair board director but has been attending the event since he was 9. His favorite event was the demolition derby. He says he loved the sound, the smell.
And he still does.
While some events remain frozen in time, as if placed inside a glass case, others let a hint of new seep in -- as with the fair's agricultural education effort, which organizers say is a balancing act. This year, they want you to check out modern advancements in robots and GPS technology, while still connecting with the area's rural roots.
The fair is a dance between the past and present, a gentle balance between the desire to preserve those nostalgic memories and the simultaneous desire to create new ones.
But old or new, one thing remains: It doesn't truly feel like summer until you've experienced the carefree magic that is a county fair.