The annual McHenry County Fair celebrates its 63rd year with barn renovations for 4-H, bigger demo derbies and tractor pulls, and nonstop games and events.
The fair attracts more than 80,000 people each year.
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Fair Vice President Charles Beard and his wife Pat have been involved with many aspects of the event and especially 4-H for a very long time.
"We enjoy it ... we wouldn't do it if we didn't enjoy it," Pat said. Their three sons participated in many 4-H competitions and their grandchildren have picked up the tradition, too.
"Our kids and grandkids have shown pigs for very long," she said, "It's kind of a family thing."
Charles said the swine barn has undergone many renovations in the past year. They were able to finish in enough time for the fair to begin with "a tremendous amount of help and support from the community," he said. The building has new bleachers, show arena, lighting, pens and a lot more, he said.
"The 4-H auction is a big part of what I do," Charles said.
The numbers of participants in the animal categories have risen, but steps have been taken to protect them from high temperatures.
"All the 4-H buildings and commercial buildings are air-conditioned," he said.
Pat also volunteers for 4-H. Her granddaughter, Taeya, 12, and grandson, Alec, 18, are participating in competitions this year. Taeya has many sewing projects to show and Alec participates in the interior design contest.
This year, the 4-H part of the fair will include more competitions for children to participate in, such as a bubble gum bubble blowing contest and a pie eating contest. A rocket launch will also take place at 12:30 p.m. Thursday. The 4-H judging and shows will begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday, 8 a.m. Thursday and Friday, 9 a.m. Saturday and 8:30 a.m. Sunday. The ceremonies and games will be at 7:30 p.m. Thursday, followed by a 4-H dance at 8 p.m.
Wade Heisler works with the entertainment performed in the grandstands and said the tracker pulls are the most fun to watch. On Thursday, there will be an antique tractor pull at 8 p.m.
"It's actually quite interesting because we call the tractors out by era," Heisler said. This tractor pull will not be as aggressive as the ones later in the weekend because the tractors shown will be older vehicles, he said.
"I like the Friday and Saturday night pulls ... the crowds all come for that," he said.
Those shows are brought on by the Midwest Pulloffs and Illini State Pullers.
Kids can participate in a tractor pull too. The Pedal Pull will be at noon Friday and Saturday.
"It's free and it's fun and the kids have a blast," Heisler said.
The demolition derby will combine with the tractor pulls Friday. Heisler said more cars will be brought to the arena this year.
"It makes it interesting because there's a lot more hitting going on," he said.
Fair organizers brought in many other special events this year, too. A Milk-a-Cow booth will be at the dairy barn, a wool spinning demonstration will be held in the sheep barn, free bingo will be offered and karaoke will be 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday. The carnival will open at 1 p.m. Wednesday to Friday and at noon Saturday and Sunday.
Wednesday will feature 16 young women in the fair queen contest. The winner will represent McHenry County in the Miss Illinois County Fair Contest. Dog demos will be performed by 4-H contestants at 4 p.m. and the McHenry County Sheriffs at 5 p.m. At 6 p.m., Tony Hermanek will perform on the accordion.
Thursday will be Veterans Day and all veterans can attend the fair for free. Farmer Ed will play the accordion at 4 p.m., the McHenry County Sheriffs will host another dog demo at 5 p.m., and a mother and daughter look-a-like contest will be at 6 p.m. A 21-tractor salute to the military will be at 6:30 p.m.
On Friday, the McHenry County Sheriffs will have another dog demo show and the fair will host a junior and senior talent contest at 7 p.m. and 8:30 p.m., respectively.
At 6 p.m. Saturday, a drill team demonstration will be shown in the Horse Corral while Dancepiration of Crystal Lake will perform in the Hansen Pavilion.
Sunday will start on an upbeat note with Jazzercise at 10:30 a.m. Hebron United Methodist Choir will sing at 11:15 a.m., B & B square dancers will perform at 1 p.m. and the Woodstock Ballet takes the stage at 2 p.m.
Musical acts will perform on the weekend days. Aunt Janet band performs at 5 p.m. and Modern Day Romeos play from 9 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Friday. From 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Hans and The Hormones will entertain the crowds, followed by Trash Martinis until 11:30 p.m. Sunday is reserved for the Jenae Cherry Band from 3 to 7 p.m.
The Beer Garden will be open for adults from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 5 p.m. to midnight Friday, noon to midnight Saturday, and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The fair will be open Wednesday, Aug. 1 through Sunday, Aug. 5 at the McHenry County Fairgrounds, 11900 Country Club Road, Woodstock. Season passes are $15 and day passes are $7. For details, see mchenrycountyfair.com.