The exhibition of farming implements, however, was of the most valuable character
In October 1853, with a net profit of $853 after paying $1,500 in premiums and with an attendance of over 15,000, the first Illinois State Fair was deemed a success. For the admission price of 25 cents that year you could visit the cattle, horse and sheep venues and also see displays of reapers, mowers, farming tools and a variety of corn planters. As a 19th century agricultural fair, those livestock and crop production attractions were the norm and were even considered necessary for promoting the agriculture industry, labor and education. After WWII, with shrinking rural populations and with more rural youth migrating to urban areas, agricultural fairs began to subtly evolve and included exhibits on modern living and offered more entertainment opportunities for the general public. Today’s fair hosts entertainment and activities ranging from 5 and 10K races to live music of every genre. Contests for the average Jane or Joe run the gamut – best smile, most talented, longest ponytail. You can even compete to call your husband or call a hog, whichever you prefer. Admission for ages 13-59 is $10 on Fridays and Saturdays, $5 on all other days. Seniors 60 and over are $3 and children 12 and under are free.
Illinois State Fair
Thu-Sun, Aug 8-18
Illinois State Fairgrounds
801 Sangamon Avenue