Each year, the McHenry County Fair Association looks to add new attractions for the annual event in Woodstock.
But it’s the fair’s traditions, include the Miss McHenry County Pageant, rodeo, demolition derby and a concert capping Saturday’s events, that keep people coming back year after year.
The fair, starting Tuesday through Sunday, also will have food, amusement rides, commercial exhibitors and animal barns, and 4-H and open-class ribbons will be awarded.
For office manager Diane Hellyer and vendor manager Hannah Meinert, the fair was their family vacation every year as they were growing up.
“A lot of family memories can be created at the fair,” Hellyer said.
Meinert said she started going to the fair as an 8-year-old 4-H’er, and “I never left,” she laughed.
While the fair often is focused on farm life and agriculture, those who manage the fair said there is something for everyone and their families.
“There are two or three types of people who go to the fair – those who just go for the rides and carnival and never get past that, never see what we show at the fair, [and] then there are the farm kids who never get to the rides or the carnival,” Hellyer said.
Susan Simons, financial secretary for the fair board, said she hopes nonfarm residents take the time to see what the fair offers outside the midway.
“Come to the fair even if you are not from an agriculture family,” she said.
Once there, families can see the kinds of livestock raised here, where their food comes from, and what their more rural neighbors do every day, she added.
Hellyer also noted there have been changes since 2020, when the COVID-19 pandemic shuttered the fair for a year.
When the fair came back a year later, more of the commercial exhibitors asked for outdoor booths. With one of their commercial buildings left empty, they’ve found new ways to offer events there.
This year, Building C is home to events throughout the day, including pottery-making, a firearms safety class, wood carving, a sheriff’s office K-9 demonstration, and a mother-daughter and father-son look-alike contest.
The air-conditioned building also is open for people to get out of the heat and relax with some food, Simons said.
Entry to the fair is $10 for anyone older than age 14 and $5 for children ages 6 to 13. Those ages 5 and younger are free. Advanced reduced-price tickets are available at the McHenry County Fair website through Monday. Wristbands for the rides also are available at a reduced price until the fair begins. A full schedule of events throughout the day can be found on the fair’s website.
The grandstand events kick off Tuesday. The schedule includes:
McHenry County Queen Pageant, 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 2
Veteran’s Salute, 3:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3
Illinois State Truck & Tractor Pull, 4 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 3
Big Air ATV Show, 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 4
Stateline Hotshots Rodeo Drill Team, 6:45 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5
Next Level Pro Bull Riding, 7 p.m. Friday, Aug. 5
Sara Evans and Big & Rich, grandstand opens at 5:30 for 7:30 and 9:30 p.m. shows, Saturday, Aug. 6
4WD Promotion Demo Derby, 2:30 and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 7