Illinois State Fair
Illinois State Fair
Fun for the Entire Family
The Illinois State Fair started in 1853 in Springfield. It is a ten day long event that takes place beginning the second Friday in August. In 1855, the Illinois State Fair moved to Chicago. During the first forty years of the fair, it moved between Springfield, Chicago, Freeport, and DuQuoin. In 1894, the state of Illinois purchased 156 acres of land on the northend of Springfield which became the permanent site for the Illinois State Fair. The fairgrounds expanded to its current 366 acres in 1924.
The Illinois State Fair is a celebration of agriculture and all things that make Illinois great. The fairgrounds itself consists of 100 permanent buildings. Over 700,000 visitors patronize the Illinois State Fair. Every year, the State Fair has a theme and the 2010 theme is "Cream of the Crop".
Besides showcasing the state's agriculture prowess, the fair features prize winning judge in all sorts of categories, harness racing, auto racing, conservation world, carnival rides for kids of all ages, entertainment in the grandstand most every night, exhibitions of you name it, and plenty of food and drink both alcoholic and non-alcoholic.
Admission into the fair is affordable at $5 for anyone 13 years and older, children ages 5 - 12 and seniors over age 60 and older are $2, children under five are free. There are some days where admission is adjusted like veterans day and senior day where admission is free and the last day of fair is family day, where all general admission is $2. Parking can vary depending upon where you want to park your car for the day. Inside the fairgrounds, parking is $7. There are plenty of lots outside the fairgrounds that charge anywhere from $4 to over $20 to park. Also note, during the Illinois State Fair, traffic travels in a counter-clockwise motion on the four roads that border the grounds - Sangamon Avenue, Peoria Road, Taintor Avenue, and North 5th Street. The traffic pattern begins the Thursday before the start of the fair until the last Sunday of the fair.
The Illinois State Fair has some pretty entertainment with harness racing, auto racing on the last weekend of the fair, and concerts. This year's lineup included the likes of Lady Antebellum (unfortunately this concert was cancelled due to storms that hit an hour before the beginning of the concert), Shinedown with Chevelle, MercyMe, Blake Shelton and Candy Coburn, Cheap Trick and Blondie, Selena Gomez with Mitchell Musso, and Darius Rucker. The Grandstand entertainment has varied from as little as six concerts (both weekends of the fair) to something every night of the fair. Only one of the dates this remained dark except for the last minute cancellation of Lady Antebellum. Prices for the concerts went from $30 with Cheap Trick and Blondie to the free concert by the Illinois Symphony Orchestra. Also, all the beer tents along with other venues inside the fairgrounds provide music every day and night during the fair.
There are plenty of exhibits for people to learn what makes Illinois great. The carnival is fun for kids of all ages. If you have kids that want to go to the fair everyday, the MegaPass is the way to go. For $60, you can use the MegaPass everyday for every ride in the fairgrounds. If you want to go just one day, the $25 Children's Miracle Network one day pass will get you access to all rides and you are helping out a worthy cause. Please note, the CMN passes are not sold at the fairgrounds. Please visit www.cmnspringfield.com for more information.
You cannot attend the Illinois State Fair without trying some of the food. You can have your traditional corn dog, lemon shake-up and funnel cake, or visit "Ethnic Village" to sample some good food from all over the world. You can find anything "fried" or cool down with some tasty beverages or some ice cream.
The Illinois State Fair is truly an event for the whole family. There are plenty of things to see and do. The prices are reasonable even during the times of today where the economy is shaky. So, if you come visit Springfield during the second week of August, be sure to check out the Illinois State Fair. Go to www.agr.state.il.us/isf/index.php to learn everything about the fair.