The DuPage County Fair opened its five-day run Wednesday with hundreds of vendors, countless carnival rides, and plenty of performers and grandstand shows featuring monster trucks, rodeo cowboys and even a wine and beer tasting.
The fair, which began 60 years as a small expo in Naperville, is expected to draw roughly 100,000 people this week as it continues from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. through Sunday at the fairgrounds at 2015 Manchester Road in Wheaton.
"It's become quite a tradition and we're looking to stay here for a long time," fair President Chuck Ingram said. "We've got so much variety that I think we use as much space as possible to keep changing what we offer."
That space includes agriculture exhibitions, midway attractions and several food courts.
Among the more popular family areas is the Ag-Ventureland tent, which includes a petting zoo and stations to teach children about farming techniques, and a kid-friendly carnival area with miniature versions of Ferris wheels and scramblers appealing to junior thrill-seekers.
New high-profile attractions this year include the Axe Women Loggers of Maine, which features competitive lumberjacks throwing hatchets and balancing on logs, and Woody's Big Cat's, a display featuring lions and tigers.
On this day, many of the fair fans were there to see the Monster Truck Show at the grandstand.
"It's what the kids have been talking about all day," said Bob Kieckhefer of Batavia, who was visiting with his two grandchildren.
He said the fair is especially nice for families like his, where the kids may not be familiar with farming or county fairs.
"Our grandchildren are visiting from Reno, where this sort of thing just doesn't happen," Kieckhefer said. "With a county fair, how much more Midwestern can you get?"
Visitors also could check out a pig race, where contestants with names like Miss Piggy and Arnold Schwarzenhogger ran squealing in loops for first prize: an Oreo.
In the 4-H building, blue ribbons marked plates of winning brownies and cupcakes -- the kind of contests that make county fairs what they are.
"They do such a good job of keeping it clean and homey and friendly and you see so many grandparents and families," said frequent visitor Eileen Robbins of Wheaton. "And there's so much to do we plan on sticking around all day."
Admission to the fairgrounds is $10 for adults and $4 for kids ages 3 through 12. For details, visit dupagecountyfair.org