Visitors come to the 146th annual Kane County Fair for a variety of reasons.
Some will want to ride the carnival rides. Others want to watch the demolition derby or hear the live bands scheduled each night.
For 17-year-old Emily Studt, of Elgin, the Kane County Fair is a chance to demonstrate all the hard work she has put into her 4-H projects over the past year.
"We work hard year-round, but for the kids in 4-H, the fair is the biggest part of our entire year," she said.
Studt has been involved in 4-H, a youth development program through the University of Illinois extension, since age 9. Each year, she and her 4-H peers have worked on multiple projects that, after being judged, are put on display for the entirety of the Kane County Fair.
"4-H is one of the most important components of the Kane County Fair," said Larry Breon, who has been fair president for nearly 30 years.
At this year's fair, which opens Wednesday, July 16, at the Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S. Randall Road in St. Charles, six of Studt's projects, all in different categories, will be displayed: photography, child development, sewing, flower arranging, cooking and jewelry.
On top of that, Studt is an ambassador for the 4-H program, meaning she has a leadership role in the group and also has to help with the organization and production of the fair's festivities.
"I love that leadership aspect," she said. "Ambassadors are a huge part of getting (the fair) ready and making sure the 4-H part of it runs smoothly."
Many years ago, the main focus of the 4-H program was agriculture, as was the focus of the Kane County Fair overall, Breon said, but that's changed over the years. Though those assets remain a very important and unique part of the fair, additions have been made throughout the years so the fair can appeal to a wider variety of people.
"What we have now is kind of ebb and flow with the likes and dislikes of the community," Breon said.
Every day, a variety of attractions will be available at the fair's Midway and throughout the fairgrounds, including a tiger show, Swifty Swine Racing Pigs, 4-H competitions, and a magic show. Fantasy Amusement Company's carnival rides will be returning this year with a new ride, the Wacky Worm Family Roller Coaster.
Commercial vendors, food vendors and other displays will also be available throughout the fairgrounds.
The fair is open from 3 to 11 p.m. on Wednesday, July 16, and Thursday, July 17; noon to midnight Friday and Saturday, July 18-19; and noon to 10 p.m. on Sunday, July 20.
"We have something for everyone," Breon said.
Though the fair will always host its staple acts, like the demolition derby, organizers do try to mix up the entertainment at both the Grandstand and the Miller Lite Soundstage throughout the week, Breon said. For example, an FMX Freestyle Motocross act will be at the Grandstand at 7 p.m. Thursday. Tickets to that show are $8.
The fairgrounds have also gotten more attractive in recent years, Breon said. More concrete was added to minimize the amount of dirt and mud around the fairgrounds, and more greenery was added, so the fairgrounds look more "parklike," he added.
Air conditioning and ventilation systems were added to the buildings, and additional upgrades were made to many of them as well.
"We have new features that make it more friendly to the people to come out here," Breon said, adding that he hopes this will encourage more people to attend the fair even when temperatures get hot.
"The fair is a weather-driven program. You never know what's going to happen," Breon said. "That's why we've tried the reconfiguration of the fairgrounds to get more places of shelter and more places with air conditioning."
This year, temperatures are expected to be in the low 70s Wednesday and will slowly increase to the mid-80s by Sunday, according to accuweather.com. Afternoon showers are possible Wednesday and Thursday, but the rest of the week is expected to be partly sunny or cloudy.
In the last few years, Breon said, attendance reached anywhere from 75,000 to 150,000, greatly depending on the weather conditions. Last year, around 75,000 people attended over the five days of the fair.
Breon encourages everyone in the area to attend the fair at least once this year to check out the facility and the featured activities.
"I would come and just kind of look around to see if there's something that sparks your interest," Breon said. "There's something for people of all ages, and there's something that everyone will like. That's what we hope."
General admission is $5 Wednesday and Thursday and $10 Friday through Sunday. A season ticket, which is a pass for five-day general admission, is $20. Grandstand shows, carnival rides, food and other features will cost extra.
For details, visit www.KaneCountyFair.com, or call (630) 584-6926.