Back August 1, 2023
Trip Ideas

Country Fairs, Our Summertime Ritual

The pigs have been soaped. The cucumbers have become pickles. And the strawberry rhubarb pie has been baked and tasted again.

It’s country fair season, when rural culture is translated to the masses. The soundtrack: Country. The fare: Pork chop sandwiches, snow-cones, cotton candy and funnel cakes.

Like political candidates that have finessed their image to win over an electorate, locals have groomed their skills – and their prized livestock – in the hopes of finding a 4-H blue ribbon attached to their entry: A floral arrangement, bantam chicken, table setting, canned good, or most unusual looking vegetable.

Throughout the summer months, this icon of rural Americana unfolds in small towns and counties throughout Northwest Illinois. A parade may serve as the prelude. Lawn chairs set up at daybreak indicate the route. Cars are dressed, floats dragged, and the Little Miss Fair Queen passes – smiling, waving.

“It’s kind of like going to a farmer’s market that lasts for a week and showcases the talents of the people that live in the area, or the surrounding area,” says Sherry Flack, whose father and mother were advisers at the country fair.  “I think it’s a good example of how this country was founded. It was founded based on agriculture.”

Flack’s grandparents were farmers and she married a farmer. Every year, she attends the local country fair for the food (especially the homemade cream puffs), and for the livestock shows. Much like dog shows, Flack explains, families prepare their animals for months leading up to the competition. Teenagers sleep overnight on cots at the fairgrounds to be near their prized heifer cow, baby chicks, and draft horses. During the day, they march their animals into an arena before the judges, spraying the pigs with water bottles to keep them cool.

Novices can attempt the rural way of life by jumping into a ring for the chicken scramble, or signing up for the tractor pull. They’re advised to stay put on the sidelines when experienced bull riders compete against each other and a one-ton beast. Everyone – the city dwellers and the country folk – find entertainment on the carnival midway, in rides that twirl and drop and bump and swing.

To Flack, the country fair highlights the best of the agricultural community because all the generations are working together. And it helps remind people where their food comes from by putting them in touch with the source. For Flack’s mother, who loved the country fair, entering her hobbies in competition for floral arrangements and antique collecting were among the last things she did before she passed away. “The fair kept her going,” Flack says. “That was her life. That was her passion.” The family legacy of farming has passed to Flack’s 30-year-old son, as has the family’s affection for the country fair; today, he serves as a superintendent and oversees the shows.

ZOWA Live is bringing their ring & Lucha Libres to the Taco Throwdown!! This will be the first live outdoor wrestling match at the RB&W Park.  Ringside seats will be available to purchase, public seating is FREE!  More big announcements to come! #zowalive #enjoyillinois #visitnwillinois #tacothrowdown
Artists! Our Art in the Park Outdoor Art Gallery applications are ready. The show will be Saturday, August 24, 2024 from 10am to 5pm at the RB&W District in Rock Falls, IL. 
Click this link for rules and application: https://bit.ly/3OYphdp
Important dates: 
5/31/2024 - Deadline for application and submission of entries 
6/17/2024 - Letters of approval for entry will be mailed out. 
#visitrockfalls #visitnwillinois #enjoyillinois
Get ready for a night of nostalgia! #JeffLudin brings his acoustic magic to the Savanna Museum & Cultural Center on Feb 23 at 7:30 pm. Don't miss this chance to hear your favorite tunes from yesteryear & today! 
Go to our Events calendar in bio.
Hugs to all our friends and visitors. Let's make it last the whole year!❤🥰
#VisitNWillinois #middleofeverything #enjoyillinois #valentineslove
#nailjunkie #nails4today #nwillinoisirl
#ChocolateRendevous--2/17/24. Bring your sweetheart or bestie out for a night of gourmet appetizers, over 100 different desserts, premium bourbon tastings, and entertainment. ALL of which are included in the price of your ticket. Your ticket includes 3 #free top-shelf drinks, a parking shuttle, and FIREWORKS!

TRAVEL GUIDE

Request a free copy or view our latest guide online.

PLAN YOUR TRIP

Ideas and resources to help plan your next real getaway in NW Illinois.