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posted: 7/27/2012 12:51 PM

Fair fundraiser to benefit Friends of DuPage

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They say it takes a village to raise a child.

But how many people does it take to put smiles on thousands of faces, young and old, during the DuPage County Fair?

Well, there are the hundreds of annual volunteers who help out at the fairgrounds. There are about 20 fair board members. There are four full-time fairgrounds employees and four part-time employees.

And then there are the people who will attend this year's second annual Spirits of DuPage beer, wine and food tasting from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 27, at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road in Wheaton.

Proceeds from the Spirits of DuPage benefits the Friends of DuPage, a not-for-profit group that manages and maintains the fairgrounds.

"It's truly an important fundraising mechanism for keeping the DuPage County Fair alive," said Jim McGuire, president of the DuPage County Fair Association. "We celebrate the spirit of agriculture that helped build and make DuPage County what it is today."

More than 40 restaurants, breweries and wineries will offer food and drink samples at the unique event that brings many local vendors to one location. Ticket prices are $40 and include admission to the fair.

"People can learn something about the different craft beers and wineries," McGuire said.

Tastes of more than 20 area restaurants include Al's Pizzeria, Augustino's Rock and Roll Deli, Manhattan's American Bar and Grill, Firehouse Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings, Caliendo's Restaurant and Bar, The Verdict Restaurant, John & Tony's Italian Steakhouse, Pizzeria Bombola, and Jersey Mike's Subs.

Twenty-plus breweries and wineries will be on hand with three to five samples of their most popular drinks. Breweries include Argus, Boston Beer Company, Blue Moon, New Belgium Brewing Company, and Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Company. Wineries include Prairie State Winery and Lynfred Winery.

Guests will receive a complimentary pilsner. The band Back Country Roads performs throughout the evening.

"It's kind of a nice setting in the center of the infield of the grandstand," McGuire said. "It's just a fun, interesting and enjoyable night being able to sample a bunch of different beers and being able to sample tasty food as well."

In addition to learning about various beers and wines, local historical facts will be displayed on decorative boards -- fun facts about farm families associated with road names and long-standing businesses.

"We're celebrating the history of DuPage and tying it all together to help keep us financially strong," McGuire said.

The fair is organized by a core group of about 20 volunteers who, combined, have more than 500 years experience putting on the fair, said Bob Radkiewicz, the fair's first vice president and beverage chairman.

"This is all a volunteer operation here," Radkiewicz said. "Nobody on the fair board is paid, so we appreciate all of the support we get from the community."

The DuPage County Fair runs from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. through July 29. General admission is $8 for adults, $3 for ages 3 to 12, and free for seniors before 3 p.m. Friday.

For a complete schedule of events or additional information about Spirits of DuPage, visit dupagecountyfair.org or call (630) 668-6636.

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