Clad in chaps, cowboy hat and boots, 5-year-old Ezequiel "E.J." Anguiano Jr. rode the mechanical bull with a wide smile on his face, left arm raised high in the air, even flinging his hat off, much to the delight of the crowd on Saturday at the Kane County Fair in St. Charles.
But when the bull's motion became a little too fast for comfort, E.J. scrunched up his face, almost ready to burst into tears, a clear signal for his father to jump in and scoop him out.
E.J. and his family were among hundreds of people who came to the fair on Saturday, the largest afternoon crowd since the event kicked off Wednesday, said fair spokeswoman Pat Szpekowski.
"It's been so hot until now, but today is really gorgeous, just an awesome day," she said.
Greg and Jennifer Pakula, of Joliet, came with their three kids, along with Greg's sister Chrissy DiRenzo and her husband, both of West Chicago.
"We love coming to the fair because there are always so many different things to see and do," Jennifer Pakula said. "This is one of the best fairs."
Elgin residents Patty and Manuel Munoz, and their grandchildren Aliya, 7, and Xavier, 5 -- all clad in cowboy hats -- had ice cream in the shade while waiting for the rodeo to start.
"We love rodeos," Patty Munoz said. "We love to see what they do."
Mike and Carmen LaFranzo said this was only the third or fourth time they attended the fair in the 25 years they've lived in Elburn. On Saturday, they came with their four grandchildren, ages 3 to 17.
"I saw a rabbit so big you could feed a whole family," Mike LaFranzo said of the 4-H exhibit area. "That's some nice hamburger on the hoof," he added with a grin, pointing to one of the heifers being showcased.
Fourteen-year-old Jackson Modeff, a freshman at Neuqua Valley High School, said he's been working at the fair every summer since he was 8 to help showcase his family's pigs. On Saturday, he also had fun startling people from a distance by dangling plastic spiders in front of them.
"It's a good experience to work here, you meet a lot of people and you become good friends with them," he said.
The Kane County Fair continues from noon to 9 p.m. Sunday at 525 S. Randall Road in St. Charles. Admission is free for children under 5, $8 for ages 5 and up.