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updated: 7/19/2017 11:34 AM

Suburban county fairs mix new attractions with returning favorites

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  • Swifty Swine Racing Pigs return to the Kane County Fair in St. Charles.

    Swifty Swine Racing Pigs return to the Kane County Fair in St. Charles.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • Hannah Ritter of Clinton, Ill., rides with the American flag at the start of the rodeo during last year's Lake County Fair in Grayslake.

      Hannah Ritter of Clinton, Ill., rides with the American flag at the start of the rodeo during last year's Lake County Fair in Grayslake.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2016

  • Summer camp participants from Chicago ride Zero Gravity during last year's DuPage County Fair in Wheaton.

      Summer camp participants from Chicago ride Zero Gravity during last year's DuPage County Fair in Wheaton.
    Daniel White | Staff Photographer

  • Crashes abound at the annual demolition derby at the DuPage County Fair.

      Crashes abound at the annual demolition derby at the DuPage County Fair.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

 
 

Suburban county fairs this summer will offer everything from a concert by the country duo LoCash to a Bengal tiger show. But traditional favorites -- livestock shows, rodeos and demolition derbies -- also return, along with the usual carnival rides and fair food.

Here are some new and returning highlights that visitors can look forward to at the 2017 Kane, DuPage, Lake and McHenry county fairs.

Kane County Fair

When: July 20-23

Where: Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 Randall Road, St. Charles

Info: kanecountyfair.com

A Bengal tiger show and a science/interactive game area are two of the newest events offered at this year's Kane County Fair.

Third-generation tiger trainer Brunon Blaszak brings his tigers into the ring for a free show. And the Mind Works science/game activity in the fairgrounds' Prairie Events Center will offer guests a new perspective on game playing.

"It's an actual interpretation of games for young people to play and become a part of," said Larry Breon, Kane County Fair Board president. "They will actually become part of the chess game or whatever game they are playing."

A Bengal tiger show is featured at the 2017 Kane County Fair.
A Bengal tiger show is featured at the 2017 Kane County Fair. - Courtesy of Dan Szpekowski

Wine tasting is another new event. Wineries from northern Illinois will offer a variety of wines for sampling, Breon said.

And the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs will once again compete in Kane County.

"The pigs are always a crowd pleaser," Breon said. "There is always a new generation of fairgoers every year who have not seen the racing pigs."

Other fair highlights include professional championship bull riding, a demolition derby, carnival rides and 4-H animal exhibits and competitions. Headlining concert performers include Hillbilly Rockstarz and Hi-Infidelity.

Daily hours and admission fees vary.

Livestock exhibits are a big part of the DuPage County Fair.
Livestock exhibits are a big part of the DuPage County Fair. - Daily Herald file photo
DuPage County Fair

When: July 26-30

Where: DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton

Info: dupagecountyfair.org

A focus on healthy eating is part of this year's DuPage County Fair, said Jim McGuire, manager of the DuPage County Fair Association. Celebrity chefs will be on hand with cooking demonstrations.

"A lot of healthy food choices will be offered at the fair. But of course we will still have traditional fair fare like funnel cakes," McGuire said.

A new beer home brew competition begins on Thursday, July 27.

"Home brewers can bring out their best," McGuire said. Prizes will be awarded. Rules are available on the fair's website.

Opening day of the DuPage County Fair, Wednesday, July 26, is Family Day, featuring a talent show with junior and senior divisions. A parade begins at 4:30 p.m.

A new landscape area with a community garden and entertainment space has been added at the northwest corner of the fairgrounds, McGuire said. A celebration of Hispanic culture with folklorico dances, music, food and costumes is a highlight.

The fair is once again offering a student art contest for DuPage County high school students. Scholarship money will be awarded. Visit the fair's website for guidelines.

"Last year, we awarded $18,000 to 12 student art contest winners," McGuire said.

No matter what the activity, family is always at the heart of the DuPage County Fair, McGuire said.

"County fairs have been going on for 150 years. Tradition is an important thing. It's a time to get together, share some fun, meet new friends and celebrate DuPage County," McGuire said. "It's a family event -- family is always a theme."

Daily hours are 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. Admission is $4-$10. Seniors are free until 3 p.m. from Wednesday, July 26, through Friday, July 28.

Rodeos return Saturday, July 29, to the Lake County Fair in Grayslake.
  Rodeos return Saturday, July 29, to the Lake County Fair in Grayslake. - Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2016
Lake County Fair

When: July 26-30

Where: Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake

Info: lcfair.com

Organizers of the Lake County Fair like to call it "summer's best fest," said John Maguire, director of business development and marketing for the Lake County Fair Association.

"We like to think we offer more than most of the neighborhood festivals, with our grandstand events, the animal events -- we try to celebrate the end of summer," he said.

Country duo LoCash headlines this year in a grandstand concert at 9:30 p.m. Friday, July 28. The concert will have a separate $20-$30 ticket fee. Tickets are available for purchase online at the fair's website.

Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of the country band LoCash will be at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake on Friday, July 28.
Preston Brust, left, and Chris Lucas of the country band LoCash will be at the Lake County Fair in Grayslake on Friday, July 28. -

Maguire said a new arena has been built for the motocross competitions. And two rodeos from the Big Hat Rodeo Company are in the spotlight on Saturday, July 29,

Demolition derbies are featured on Sunday, July 30.

"We are mixing it up, with figure eight demolition derbies, women's races and school bus races," Maguire said.

A number of new food vendors will be on-site, and new acts are featured in the fair's beer garden.

"We'll have a lot of diversity in music. We like to showcase the best of Lake County," Maguire said.

Fair hours are 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, July 26-27; 10 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, July 28-29; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 30.

Admission is $10 for adults, with discounts available for children, seniors and military.

McHenry County Fair

When: Aug. 1-6

Where: McHenry County Fairgrounds, 11900 Country Club Road, Woodstock

Info: mchenrycountyfair.com

"Carving Out Our Future" is the theme for this year's McHenry County Fair.

A focus on 4-H and its programs, including livestock and educational displays, continues to be a priority.

"This year is the 100th anniversary of the McHenry County 4-H program," said Katie Bloomfield, general manager of the McHenry County Fair Association.

New this year is a Kid Bucks game show style event, running three times a day, Bloomfield said.

Also new is a roping event, similar to a rodeo, where performers ride out on horseback and catch steer.

The Miss McHenry County pageant begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 1.

Motocross events, tractor pulls and a demolition derby are also highlights.

Music headliners include Sawyer Brown at 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 4, in the grandstand. Tickets are $15-$20. Other performers include Jimmy Nick and Suburban Cowboys.

Juggler and fire eater Andy Martello returns to the McHenry County Fair this year, performing three times a day, Thursday through Sunday.

And those with a talent for shouting for hogs and gobbling down watermelon can take part in the fair's hog-calling and watermelon-eating contests.

Daily hours vary. One-day admission tickets are $5-$8. Kids ages 5 and younger are free.

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