Lake County Fair organizers going 'Back to Our Roots' with scaled-down event
A modified version of the annual Lake County Fair called "Back to Our Roots" will be held July 30-Aug. 1 at the fairgrounds in Grayslake.
The outdoor-only event will be shorter and won't have the full measure of attractions of a traditional county fair. But foundational elements such as livestock, a carnival, music, and food and beer are scheduled, with other possibilities pending.
"We don't have the manpower to run a full fair. We're doing what we can with the resources that we have," said Kelli Kepler-Yarc, president of the Lake County Fair Association.
The nonprofit organization, which runs the fairgrounds and event center at Peterson and Midlothian roads, announced "Back to Our Roots" on Tuesday.
The event will include livestock showings with a virtual auction, carnival rides, music and featured bands, a beer tent, food truck vendors, a tractor display and bingo.
The demolition derby and monster trucks definitely are out, but there is discussion of other attractions, such as a rodeo, Kepler-Yarc said. Hours, prices and other details are pending.
The Lake County Health Department opened a drive-through COVID-19 vaccination site at the cavernous event center in February, It since has been converted to a walk-in facility and will run through the end of May.
Otherwise, the event center and other facilities that usually host a full slate of events, meetings, performances and other activities have been idle since March 2020.
Kepler-Yarc said the focus for what became "Back to Our Roots" was to provide an avenue for the shrinking number of kids who raise animals.
"We haven't had our doors open for 15 months so we're trying to provide something for the kids and their animals without breaking the bank," she said.
Last year, what would have been the 92nd annual Lake County Fair was canceled in early June. Though scaled down, "Back to Our Roots" also will ensure that the fair association qualifies for state funding, according to Kepler-Yarc.
"We can't cancel two years in a row," she said.
However, planning during the pandemic has been tough.
"This is what we've come to because we had to make a decision and roll with it," Kepler-Yarc said. "We're excited we can do something this year."
The association will monitor and follow all state and local guidelines for public health. Additional announcements about the event will come as planning proceeds.
"That's been the mantra with COVID," Kepler-Yarc said. "Roll with it. Make the best of it."