From muddy parking to money issues, the Lake County Fair has faced challenges since moving five years ago from its home of half a century to a new locale at Peterson and Midlothian roads in Grayslake.
Those and other matters long ago were addressed and the work since has been about improving the product, rather than putting out fires.
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"That's a good position to be in when you stop moving things around," said Sheri Vyfvinkel, business manager. "It's the fine details you can look at that point."
But it wouldn't be fair week without something out of the ordinary to consider, and the 2014 version -- it opens Wednesday and runs through Sunday -- is no exception.
This time, major road work on Peterson at the front door and to the east and west of the fairgrounds is the potential nemesis. But there will be the same number of lanes as in past years, and fair officials don't expect the work to cause delays.
"There's no lane closures, there's no flaggers. It's nothing operationally that will affect our traffic flow," Vyfvinkel said. "It will be like previous years, but the lanes will be shifted."
The $10.8 million Lake County project will widen Peterson to four lanes with left-turn lanes at intersections from near Harris Road to west of Route 83.
Despite the wet weather this construction season, the project basically is on schedule, according to Glenn Petko, engineer of construction for the Lake County division of transportation. Fair dates were noted in the contract so bidders were aware, he added.
Crews on Thursday were paving a transition onto a new concrete road surface approaching the fair entrance and continuing about 1,500 feet west of Midlothian, where it will shift.
"On Monday, we're planning to switch traffic onto the new pavement on the north side so it's closer to the fair," Petko said. "That way, they can make all the turns into the fair a lot easier, rather than turning through construction."
Most of the cones and barrels near the intersection will be gone by fair time, and the through lane and left- and right-turn lanes on Midlothian will be restored.
Midlothian was extended a few years ago north to Route 137 and visitors can use that entrance to the fair to avoid the Peterson work.
The fair will continue to offer a mix of traditional agricultural features and new attractions.
"We're still trying to make it bigger and better. That's something we try for every year," said Jon Brodzik Jr., president of the Lake County Fair board.
Monster trucks, for example, are replaced with professional lawn mower racing.
"They actually have 11 different classes of souped up lawn mowers. They take it seriously," Brodzik said. How fast can they go? "Sixty. Six-zero," he added.
The rodeo will be back after a three-year absence and a craft beer festival is a new feature, as is the Lake County Mounted Posse open horse show.
Fireworks return for the first time in decades Thursday to cap three concerts on the main stage in honor of Veterans Day, a new designation in which all veterans and active military are admitted free.
Fair officials now are crossing their fingers regarding one of the main influences on the outcome.
"Our only issue this year is Mother Nature," said Sue Markgraf, vice-president of the executive board of directors.