A McHenry County tradition started in the 1850s will again draw thousands of people to Woodstock this week.
The McHenry County Fair runs from Tuesday, Aug. 1, through Sunday, Aug. 6, at the fairgrounds, 11900 Country Club Road, Woodstock.
Among the highlights are motocross events, tractor pulls, demolition derby, 4-H Open and Junior Open livestock and non-livestock shows, educational displays about conservation and agriculture, vendor booths, carnival, the Miss McHenry County pageant, children's activities, food vendors and live entertainment.
"The fair started way back in the 1800s -- 1854 to 1924 -- but it stopped during the Depression era and during the World War period," said Tom Linneman, treasurer of the McHenry County Fair Association. "This is actually our 69th year."
The fair started a day earlier this year to allow for extra events. Roughly 70,000 people from throughout the region are expected to visit throughout the course of the week. This year's theme is "Carving Out Our Future."
"It's one of the larger events in the county," Linneman said.
A long-standing fair tradition is youth members of the 4-H program showing off their farm animals in a juried livestock competition.
The 4-H Open Show is for all ages. The Junior Open show is for 4-H youths from throughout the United States between the ages of 8 and 19.
"They can enter and win some cash prizes and ribbons," Linneman said. "Most of our 4-H youth that exhibit here are usually also involved with the junior open and open show. This is actually our 100th year of McHenry County 4-H (program)."
There are multiple multigenerational 4-H families that present at the fair each year.
"My family is four generations in 4-H," said Linneman, 34, of Hebron. "My grandfather started our Hebron Helping Hands 4-H Club back in 1959. He was a 4-H leader for 30 years."
Linneman's mother and uncles also were involved in 4-H. He and his brother showed animals at the fair years ago, and now Linneman's sons, Caleb, 7, and Kyle, 5, are showing sheep at the fair's open show.
Non-livestock displays, including crafts, food, photography, flowers, and fruits and vegetables, also will be judged with the winners presented ribbons.
New to the fair are performances by nationally renowned country band Sawyer Brown, and 1950s-era A cappella group, Blend. Other performers include Jimmy Nick and Suburban Cowboys.
Also new is a Kid Bucks game show-style event running three times a day, and a roping event, similar to a rodeo, where performers ride out on horseback and catch steer.
Andy Martello, a Las Vegas comedian and juggler who won the McHenry County Fair talent contest in the early 1980s, returns to perform three times a day Thursday through Sunday.
"That's what gave him the start to become a professional juggler," Linneman pointed out.
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.
It takes between 200 and 300 volunteers to put on the fair each year.
"Without those volunteers the fair would not happen," Linneman said. "It's a big community, countywide event."
Daily admission tickets are $5 to $8. Kids 5 and younger get in free. To view a schedule of events, visit mchenrycountyfair.com.