Annual parade kicks off DuPage County Fair's 5-day run

 
By Cassie Buchman
cbuchman@dailyherald.com
Updated 7/28/2016 2:09 PM
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  • David Licht, 7, of Wheaton takes a ride on the fun slide during the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton.

      David Licht, 7, of Wheaton takes a ride on the fun slide during the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Finley McCraw, 4, of Wheaton enjoys an ice cream cone at the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton.

      Finley McCraw, 4, of Wheaton enjoys an ice cream cone at the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • Nic Batin shows his stuff on a pogo stick during the opening parade of the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton.

      Nic Batin shows his stuff on a pogo stick during the opening parade of the DuPage County Fair Wednesday. The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

  • The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton.

      The fair runs through Sunday at the fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton. Paul Michna | Staff Photographer

Laughing and cheering, people crowded around the midway of the DuPage County Fairgrounds to watch the DuPage County Fair kick off its five-day run Wednesday with a parade.

Leading the line were the horses and goats that can be seen throughout the fair, along with a sampling of the other attractions the fair offers this year.

Many cheered for The Pack Drumline and Dance Crew as its dancers moved to the beat of the music, while the West Suburban Home School Marching Band performed, extreme pogo stick riders flipped through the air, and tall tractors moved along the road.

Following all of this was a clown waving to the crowd in a small red car.

Even with all of these sights, for Nichelle King, of Glendale Heights, the main event was seeing the West Suburban Home School Marching band. Her son Zachary, 16, plays the trombone.

The West Suburban Home School Marching band, according to Chuck Ingraham, president of the DuPage County Fair Association, was more than pleased to be a part of the opening ceremonies, and learned a few more numbers to be able to march in the parade this year.

"There's a well of pride that my son's in there," Nichelle King said. "To have them play the opening ceremony songs, the 'Star Spangled Banner' and 'God Bless America,' it's very nice to witness that and listen to it. They're phenomenal, in my opinion."

Zachary has been playing in the band since he was nine years old, and King has been coming to watch him in the opening ceremonies for the last five years.

"The younger kids and I will enjoy the rides while he's rehearsing," King said.

Even after all these years playing with the band, Zachary is still thrilled to be a part of the DuPage County Fair.

"This is the height of his summer," King says.

For the members of the band, she said, being in these parades is a way to come together and be social. During the school year, the band practices once a week, but when it comes time for their summer season, they only have a week of practice before they go to parades around the area.

"Considering that they've only practiced for a week together during the summer then go to all these parades, it's pretty amazing what they can do," King said.

With her daughters eager to walk around the fair and see the animals and go on the rides, King only had one qualm about the opening day. "It's very hot," she said.

Noreen Chechopoulos, of Wheaton, and her sons Paul, 14, and Kevin, 11, have made a tradition of coming to the fair since the kids were babies. Noreen even has a picture of each of her sons going on every ride the DuPage County Fair has to offer. With all their fair experience, the family has found different ways to beat the heat of the fair's first day.

Lemonade is the key, Noreen says.

"I wore a lot of deodorant, so I'm fine," Paul added.

Though they missed the parade, the boys still had a fun time, with each of them winning a stuffed emoji at the carnival games.

To beat the heat and to make sure fair directors could make the parade, it was moved from previous years' time slot of 11 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

"Nobody wants the sun beating down on you," Ingraham said.

Also starting off the festivities was an opening ceremony, with a flag-raising by DuPage County Marines, and various volunteers were recognized for their work with the fair.

State Senator Tom Cullerton, a Villa Park Democrat, and DuPage County Board member Sean Noonan spoke, along with Ingraham and manager of the DuPage County Fair Association, Jim McGuire.

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