McHenry County Fair kicks off for 75th time

  • Dale Shaffer of Shaffer Electrical Contractors, installs lights in the poultry tent at the McHenry County Fairgrounds on Friday, July 28. The county fair opens on Tuesday, Aug. 1.

    Dale Shaffer of Shaffer Electrical Contractors, installs lights in the poultry tent at the McHenry County Fairgrounds on Friday, July 28. The county fair opens on Tuesday, Aug. 1. Gregory Shaver/Shaw Local News Network

Updated 8/1/2023 10:55 AM

The McHenry County Fair is celebrating its 75th anniversary Tuesday through Sunday in Woodstock.

The fair, located at 11900 Country Club Road, will have the week packed with events, vendors, live music and a carnival that typically brings in about 75,000 attendees over the week, McHenry County Fair Association Vice President Rich Tobias said.


For the 75th anniversary, the fair will recognize all farmers and families who have farmed in McHenry County. Agriculture broadcaster Orion Samuelson and swine superintendent Charles Beard will be honored for their lifelong commitments to McHenry County farming.

Building D in the fair will be named in honor of Samuelson, who broadcasted farming news on WGN radio for over 60 years. He is now retired and lives in McHenry County.

A road on the fairgrounds will be renamed to Charles Beard Way, according to Tobias.

Woodcarver Joe Stebbing will create sculptures with a chainsaw, and glass blowers will do demonstrations all week. Creators will have the items they made at the fair available for purchase on Sunday.

Stebbing, who has been coming to the fair for over eight years, will be creating 18 different carvings, including a bench, Tobias said.

"Probably the piece of the year last year, I think, was a fox that was sitting there," Tobias said.

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Other highlights include a tractor parade, the McHenry County Queen pageant and police dog demonstrations by the McHenry County sheriff's office.

On Thursday, Windy City Pro Wrestling will be at the fair for the first time. Former WWE wrestler Gangrel will be doing a meet and greet before the show. There will be eight matches, including a tag-team fight, a women's fight and a steel cage match as the main event.

The grandstand will have a "celebration of seven decades of music" with performances by the Neverly brothers, Heart to Heartbreaker, Midnight Rider, Tennessee Whiskey and Jump.

"We have music from every one of the decades, including going all the way back to the '50s and the '60s with Elvis Presley and coming right up to the modern era with a band called Jump."


There will be dozens of shows that have become staples for the fair, including livestock, crafts and home arts, horses, flowers and antiques.

The "all American lumberjack show" will have 10 events, including log rolling, races, ax throwing, and other competitions. Carvings made in the shows will be given to lucky winners in the audience. Attendees can join in at the lumberjack camp where they can learn different skills.

Every day at the fair, a dog performance group called Puppy Pals will have a show filled with dog tricks and stunts. Host Kenny Mikey said that the dogs in the show are rescues from across the country named Gizmo, Rudy, Cash and Finn.

"We have fun," Mikey said. "You're going to fall in love with the dogs because they're absolutely adorable, and they each have their own personality that shine, shine, shine."

Attendees can purchase tickets at the gate. A season pass is $30, daily passes are $10, and carnival wristbands are $25 per day.

The full event schedule and more details can be found at

"I see a lot of people smiling," Tobias said. "It's a good old country fair in that respect. Some people have a lot of memories from when they were a kid, and now they can share it with their children."

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