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Facing an uncertain future, DuPage County Fair returns for 60th year

Published: Monday, July 21, 2014 5:07 p.m. CST • Updated: Friday, July 25, 2014 4:35 a.m. CST
Caption
(Bill Ackerman file photo - backerman@shawmedia.com)
Kids ride the Dragon Wagon on the first day of the 2013 DuPage County Fair. The fair returns July 23.

The DuPage County Fair has been entertaining local families for six decades, and will do so again this year – despite questions about its future.

The festivities, which run July 23 to 27, will mark the 60th celebration and include a number of new attractions, said DuPage County Fair Executive Board President Chuck Ingram.

"We try and mix things up," he said. "People say 'Well, I like tractor pulls.' And tractor pulls are nice, but if you see the same thing year after year you don't appreciate it as much. So we try to bring in our monster trucks, our demolition derbies, 'Axe Women from Maine' and stuff like that. We try and keep things fresh for people."

However, there is also a degree of tradition, Ingram said.

Pie eating, rope making and cattle shows all capture the fair's sense of old-time fun.

"It's family friendly," he said. "We educate people on our livestock ... we show our home ec area with people growing fruit and things on display, showing how this stuff all looks before it's all processed. We're probably more important in our county than others are in their counties. In rural areas you don't see a lot of people going to the cattle section, because that's their life there."

Despite increasing attendance, the county is looking at moving the fairgrounds, currently at 2015 Manchester Road in Wheaton, elsewhere. A task force has been formed to determine the best course of action for the Wheaton property.

"Their lease goes through 2020, so we're going to have some discussions about what's the best use of that property in the future," said County Board member Grant Eckhoff in an interview in 2013. "It's a small area now for a county fair and it is sort of shoehorned in there."

A report was anticipated earlier this year, but now is expected in the coming months, Ingram said. Should the group decide to keep the fairgrounds where they are, several infrastructure improvements will likely be needed.

Ingram said the fair has upgraded some of its facilities already, including its electrical grid, but that the board would soon present ideas for future land use and fair improvements, including a multi-use exhibition hall and an indoor soccer field.

"They're looking to find the best use of county property there," he said. "But it belongs to all of DuPage County, and that's something we've been stressing. It's not just Wheaton, even if the school district or park district want to take it over, it belongs to all of DuPage County."

Until the fate of the land is decided, the fair will go on as planned – as will the other programming that takes place on the grounds throughout the rest of the year.

"That's why it's so important to have those fairgrounds there," Ingram said. "It affords people the opportunity to put on these shows, do these drives and keep their prices low and feel welcome."

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Admission

Adults – $10

Children ages 3 to 12 – $4

Children ages 2 and under – Free

Military personnel with ID – Free

Seniors – Free until 3 p.m. July 23 to 25

Season pass – $30

Carnival special passport (five days, unlimited rides) – $60*

*Must be purchased at the fair office by July 22.

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Community projects

• St. Baldrick's – Noon, July 27. Sign up at www.stbaldricks.org.

• Dog adoption – Throughout the fair, led by Dot Patch Pet and Feed in Naperville.

• Give a Goat Project – A series of change jars will be placed throughout the grounds for the Haitian Health Foundation program, which purchases goats for rural families in Haiti.

• Pillowcase Challenge – Fairgoers can make pillowcases for chemotherapy patients at Central DuPage Hospital Cancer Center and the Elmhurst Memorial Cancer Center.

• Canned good collection – Daily, a canned good grants free entry before 9 a.m.

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Event highlights

• 2:30 and 6:30 p.m. July 23 – Free monster truck show

• Noon and 5 p.m. July 24 and 25 – Cirque Zuma Zuma from "America's Got Talent"

• 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. July 25 – Spirits of DuPage beer and wine tasting with appetizers ($40)

• 1 and 6:30 p.m. – July 26, Latting IPRA Rodeo ($8)

• 1 and 7:30 p.m. – July 27, Demolition Derby ($8)

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Free events

• Beer tent with entertainment stage

• Program tent entertainment

• Buttons the Clown

• Big cats

• Don Otto, trampoline artist and comedian

• Wild World of Animals

• Axe Women of Maine

• Cirque Zuma Zuma

• Balloon artist

• Boots & Britches

• Racing pigs

• Oscar The Robot

• Cyclist

• Chi-Town Dixie Stompers

• Chicago Honey Bear Dancers

• Jason Owens

• Michael Lynch

• DuPage Band

• Blend a Cappella

• Paul Avers

• Andre Williams

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Know more

For more information, including a full schedule of events, attractions and exhibits, visit www.dupagecountyfair.org.

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