YORKVILLE -- The Kendall County Fair kicks off Thursday, Aug. 3, marking its silver anniversary.
"It is home," said Mike Drendel, Kendall County Fair Association President, of the 34-acre wooded property on the south side of Yorkville. "It's where friends and family meet."
Twenty-five years ago, the fair returned to a permanent location in Kendall County, driven by the hard work and dedication of volunteers, including Drendel.
"The county fair is a place to gather and celebrate," he said. "That's what makes it special -- the people, the community and everyone working together and coming together to make it happen. Previously, we were in other counties or homesteads and we just needed a home."
At the 2017 fair, Aug. 3 to 6, attendees can enjoy live music and entertainment, farm animals, fun community contests, truck and tractor pulls, amusement rides, festival food favorites and much more.
"The county fair is great fun and memories for youth, parents, volunteers and community members," said Kim Eisnaugle, 4-H Youth Development program coordinator with University of Illinois Extension in Kendall County. "The county fair and 4-H shows provide a unique opportunity to reconnect with friends and to share these experiences with fellow community members."
The annual county fair also is the culmination of the entire year of 4-H. These youth learn leadership and life skills through scores of project options with topics as varied as aerospace, web design, photography, nutrition, gardening, visual arts and community service, to name just a few.
"The fair is a special part of 4-H because everyone shares what they have worked on all year long," said 4-H member Lydia Oker of Sandwich. "You get to show people what you have learned and have an opportunity to educate people about interesting things."
At the Kendall County Fair, 4-H members exhibit both general projects in Smith 4-H Hall and demonstrate animal and livestock work in a number of shows, including dairy, beef, swine, sheep, goat, rabbit, poultry and cat. Open show entries also are displayed in Smith 4-H Hall and the Education Building.
25th Anniversary Fair has something for Everyone
The Kendall County Fair has daily line-ups to suit an array of interests and ages.
New this year, All Around Amusements joins the fair, and will host special needs family hours 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Aug. 4, offering sensory-friendly rides and extra help, as well as free admission. General carnival hours are noon to 10 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 3 through Saturday, Aug. 5, and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 6.
The fair opens Thursday with 4-H animal shows, the open horse speed show and the official opening ceremony at noon. Thursday evening, fairgoers can watch the action of the theme photo contest at 5 p.m., join the fun with Live Band Karaoke at 6 p.m. and finish the night with the talented Ethan Bell Band at 8 p.m.
On Friday, fairgoers can start the day with 4-H swine, rabbit and dairy shows. At 4 p.m., join the cupcake decorating contest at the family stage, and check out the Kendall County Fair 4-H King and Queen crowning at 4:45 p.m. at the main stage. Stay for Billy Croft and 5 Alarm, the ISP Truck and Tractor Pulls, and Hillbilly Rockstarz on Friday night.
Saturday brings a full day of action and community fun. There will be a craft show and farmers market from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. In addition to the 4-H beef and cat shows, families also can enjoy the Pocket Pet Show, Fox River Academy and Virtues in Motion Dance Studio performances, the Battle of the Bags Teen Cornhole Tournament, Fixed Emotion, Antique Tractor Parade, Cadillac Groove, and Magician Rob Thompson.
Love to cook or eat? Check out the Saturday Kids Cook, Too! Contest at 1 p.m., the Culver's Ice Cream Eating Challenge at 2 p.m., or at 3 p.m., the Cooks of Kendall, all on the family stage.
At 6 p.m., stop down at the livestock arena to support Kendall County 4-H youth and stock your freezer at the annual Livestock Auction. The live music and entertainment continues with Mason Rivers at 5:30 p.m. and Whiskey Romance at 8 p.m. Don't forget to check out the first-ever Kendall County Fair movie night at 9:30 p.m.
Sunday begins with a church service at 9:30 a.m. and the coveted Master Showmanship Competition at 10 a.m. Fairgoers can compete in the watermelon-eating contest sponsored by Keller's Farmstand at 11 a.m., the kids pedal pull at 12:30 p.m. or Keller's Sweetcorn Chowdown at 3 p.m. Keep an eye out for fellow community members in the mud volleyball tournament, antique tractor parade, Kids Cook, Too! and Cooks of Kendall Contests. Family-friendly entertainment includes a puppet show, the JJC Jazz Quintet, the Junior Talent Contest, the Demolition Derby, and the 4-H Fashion Revue, followed by the 4-H Parade of Champions.
Each day also features food trucks and booths with offerings from fair favorites like lemon shake-ups, funnel cakes and corn dogs to local delicacies of sweet corn, beef sandwiches, and pork burgers.