I went to the Sandwich Fair today. It’s located in, oddly enough, Sandwich, Illinois. While it is technically the DeKalb County Fair, it is widely known as the Sandwich Fair. In fact, it wasn’t until I looked it up just now that I discovered it was the DeKalb County Fair, and I’ve not only been going there for years but have also entered a competition in the past.
The picture above is of the Home Arts building, where they display the items for the needlework, clothing and foods competitions. The tent set-up is for the culinary competition. On the other side of the tent on the right you can just barely see a model of the Home Arts building – here it is closer up –
Yep, the fair has been around since 1888 – the oldest continuing fair in Illinois. It always takes place the week after the Labor Day weekend. That, in my humble opinion, is a great time for a county fair. When you have a fair in the middle of July you may not have been able to harvest some of the crops for which they hold competitions. You don’t have that problem at the beginning of September.
This is a real county fair. It has competitions for home arts as already noted, and for crafts, photography, art, collections and all sorts of similar things. The main point of a county fair, though, is the produce and animals, and there is no shortage of those. Produce of every kind is entered into competitions, as well as things like flowers. Animals are the biggest draw, with goats, sheep, dairy, beef, pigs, rabbits and poultry. Almost every category has both a junior and open competition. It’s a great place to bring the city kids to see real farm animals.
Of course there are rides and so many things you can stuff your face with. All sorts of vendors are there, as well as farm equipment dealers and RV dealers. There are midway games to play, too, for young and old. I actually ran into my niece and her husband as their three young kids played a game simple enough for them to win. While I occasionally go to the fair, my brother and his family have made it a yearly tradition and his kids carry it on. My father-in-law even gets in on the act. He won a red ribbon (second place) for a wood carving he entered this year.
The fair is a slice of country life. Just walking around and looking at things cost me $9.00 to get. If you enter a competition your general entry fee of $15.00 gets you an exhibitor’s pass which admits you for all five days of the fair. If you want to spend more money, then hit the food vendors and let the kids go wild on the rides. Then take in the shows in the grandstand for extra $$$. If you want, you can take advantage of special discounts on different days and at different times.
My favorite things to see there? Well, I always have to check out the vegetable and home arts competitions. I like looking at the photography entries, too, and trying to figure out why in the world someone voted that entry a blue ribbon. I always like to see all the animals. As a frustrated, used-to-wanna-be small farmer, I enjoy them. And there’s nothing like going by a rooster’s cage when he lets off a cockadoodle-do right in your ear. It all makes me feel a bit more “country” than I really am.
Last time I was there was in 2005, so it’s been a long time for me. Next year, if my brother and his wife go, I think I’ll tag along with them. It’s always nice to be able to go with someone else. So rustle up someone and come along. Next year it runs September 3 through 7 – here’s the link – Sandwich Fair. And no, I’m not paid to promote the fair. It’s just great family entertainment, unless, of course, you’re one of those jaded city folk.