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Local News

Not too hot, not too cold at fair

Event features drunken simulation, pop band, lawn mower races

GRAYSLAKE – Ben Goode is usually pretty good at bags. Recently, his team was in the top 4 at a tournament, but he didn't have that kind of luck at the Lake County Fair over the weekend.

He stood 10 feet away from the target, but missed wildly every time he threw a bag.

He had a good excuse, though: He wore goggles that made him feel as if he were intoxicated at twice the legal limit for driving. It was part of the Lake County Sheriff's Department booth at the fair's exhibition hall, a lesson in the dangers of drinking and driving.

Goode, 29, of Lake Zurich, thought it was a good idea.

"The fact that I couldn't make it shows something," said Goode, an accountant. "It definitely shows the importance of driving while sober."

A woman afterward wore a different type of goggles, which made her feel as if she were at the legal limit. Nonetheless, she apparently felt drunk, missing all of her shots.

At one point, sheriff's Deputy Dwight Arrowood told her she was overcorrecting.

"Your reaction time is off," he said.

The sheriff's booth was one of the more popular ones. At the corner was an 8-foot-high picture of Sheriff Mark Curran, a Republican who is running for re-election this year.

A squad car was on hand, and deputies allowed fairgoers to sit inside. A smiling Jessie Logan, 3, of Chicago, was among them. He was so small that he couldn't see over the dashboard.

His mother, Prici Ceja, kept asking him whether he was finished. "There are other people waiting," she told him.

"He loves police cars and fire trucks," she said.

Early afternoon Saturday, the temperature was in the low 80s – not too cold, not too hot. Parking at the fair cost $5 in the paved lot closer to the fairgrounds, but it was free in the field farther away.

At the beer garden stage, Chicago band Hit Storm played pop music. As they performed Spice Girls' "Wannabe," a man holding his son danced to the music.

About the same time, the lawn mower races were set to begin. Contestants circled the dirt track; an announcer said were doing a "practice run to get a lay of the land." One boy's mower stalled, so he put up the hood, but had no luck. A middle-aged man ran to him, pushed aside one of the hay bales that lined the track and moved the mower to the side. The mower was up and running a minute later.

The pageant queens stood at the front of the stands getting professional photos taken. Soon after, they were shuttled away in a golf cart to the exhibition hall – apparently, those high heels weren't made for walking.

The exhibition hall had many displays – artwork, crafts, photography, produce, many with first-, second- and third-place ribbons.

Bill Jersey, 63, of Fox Lake, competes in needlework, craft and photography categories. He started with needlework at the fair 32 years ago.

"My mother was having trouble with the dark colors, so I helped her. Then I got involved," he said.

Both the Democratic and Republican parties were on hand, separated by just one booth. All appeared peaceful early Saturday afternoon.

Vance Wyatt, chairman of the Shields Township Democrats, said he felt good about his party's chances in November's election.

"The county is becoming more Democratic," he said. "We have to get our message out."

The GOP, meanwhile, was handling out jelly bellies.

"People are looking for a change," said Joseph Rada, a Grant Township Republican.

In the animal barns, city dwellers got a peek into farm life. And there were many comments.

"Where are the horns?" one woman asked in the goat barn.

Another playfully asked her son to kiss one of the goats. He could have easily done so, given how short he was, but he declined.

In the sheep barn, many kids imitated the animals, "Baaaaa!"

A steakhouse had an advertisement in the cattle bar, where many people sat in the bleachers waiting for a livestock auction.

In one of the stalls, a cow urinated.

"Oh, Geez!," a teenage girl shouted. Her friend was also repulsed.

Apparently, not country girls.

The pig barn was less exciting. They were all asleep.

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