Summer is in full swing, and here in Illinois, that means one thing: county fairs!
“I just love the fair industry. The people are amazing,” says Jill Hardesty, president of the Illinois Association of County Fairs. “There’s a lot of these people that I’ve showed cattle with since I was 10 years old.”
Hardesty’s not alone in her love of the fair. All across the state, volunteers are putting in hundreds of hours to pull off a time-honored event that brings their community together around livestock, 4-H, corn dogs and Ferris wheels. Many are still in recovery following canceled fairs in 2020, but are fighting their way back in 2022. Hardesty says crowds were out in force in 2021, and she expects the same in 2022.
The Boone County Fair reported the highest attendance in 2021, at 209,439 people. Fairs in DeKalb, Winnebago and McHenry counties all came in with attendance at or over 100,000 last year. For a full schedule of Illinois county fairs, check out this list, courtesy of the Illinois Department of Agriculture.
Prairie Farmer recently asked readers to share their favorite county fair photos — click through for some fun stories! And be sure to check out the infographic below.