Today we went to the Illinois State Fair, August 13-23, and I realized I have never been to a state fair. Wow, how did I get to be this old without experiencing one??
Amanda had told us that the cast of Million Dollar Quartet would be performing Monday evening, so we planned our visit around this. Any opportunity to see these awesome musicians is sure to be fun.
First of all, the fair grounds are huge! We saw lots of folks who rented carts to scoot around the place. There are also trams pulled by large John Deere tractors at multiple designated spots throughout the grounds. Needing the exercise, we did a lot of walking!!
The state fair, created and organized by farmers, began in 1853 and has been held annually since (with only a few exceptions). The Illinois fair is the 13th largest in the US. There are hundreds of food and merchandise vendors. Truck and tractor pulls, 4H exhibits, cooking contests, music performances at multiple stages (small and large), draft horse shoes, harness racing, petting zoo, and so much more can be found here.
First, we saw some of the livestock. I don't know why I did not get any photos of cows, but there were many of them in several livestock buildings. First, the Swine Building...
Many fun family activities and demonstrations can be found at Conservation World. Below is a fly fishing clinic and popcorn-making.
Illinois State Fair Museum, located at the north end of the Grandstand, has several interesting exhibits.
Lincoln Hearse. Staab Family Livery accepted the honor to reverse-engineer and recreate the hearse that carried the body of Abraham Lincoln to his final resting place in Oak Ridge Cemetery in 1865. The project was undertaken to commemorate the death of the President 150 years ago.
This quilt was given to Viola Palumbo on the 35th anniversary Miss Illinois State Fair Pageant. It was donated to the museum when she died. The "crazy" quilt was the blue ribbon winner at the 1885 State Fair. It is made of silk, velvet, satin, damask and ombri ribbons and took 2-3 years to make.
For more information about the museum, see www.statefairmuseum.org
While we were in the museum, we heard music that sounded like the Million Dollar Quartet although we knew they were not scheduled to go on until 7 pm. Sure enough, they were warming up on the stage at the Grandstand. Later in the afternoon, we ran into two of the cast members who play Sam Phillips and Carl Perkins on the fair grounds. We had seen these performers when we saw the show at the Apollo Theatre in Chicago (our daughter is the Deck Chief for the show there).
The Dairy Building was built in 1903 at a cost of $20,000. It has been the home to the famous Butter Cow for more than 70 years. For the past 12 years, Sharon BuMann has sculpted the cow on a wood and metal mesh frame using an oversized palette knife. It can be seen on a rotating platform in a large cooler (42 degrees). About 600 pounds of butter is used to create the display.
John Deere tractors (old and new) can be seen in many displays. This one shows a tractor being using to make "hand-cranked" ice cream.
We saw the 6 pm High Dive show. This team of 4 championship divers performed from various heights with competition dives, comedy routines, and stunt dives into a 9' deep pool.
They were amazing! The first act was a "burning man" stunt dive. Crazy!
Synchronized dive and a comedy routine dive from various dive heights.
Dive from 80' high platform. Traveling at 65 mph when he hits the water, he has to "stop" his downward motion within just 9' of water. Wow!
State Police booth. Check out this State Police car that was hit by a tractor-trailer. Fortunately the trooper was not in the vehicle as he was on the side of the road assisting a tow truck driver. The accident resulted in a new law that requires drivers to steer clear of stationary police cars that have their emergency lights flashing. Also below is a State Police motorcycle, a Harley Davidson, of course.
We grabbed a bite to eat and then proceeded to the Grandstand for the MDQ performance (free). At 7 pm, the Scott Laytham & Karl "Trickee" Holmes Duo opened the show. Their performance was fantastic as the playlist ranged from Louis Armstrong, Johnny Mathis, Frank Sinatra, Motown, Michael Jackson, James Brown, and more.
Next was the cast of Million Dollar Quartet from Chicago.
Here are closeups (well, as close as I could get with my camera from our seats!) of performers Carl Perkins, Elvis, Sam Phillips and Johnny Cash, Diane, and Jerry Lee Lewis. They were awesome!
Admission to the fair is $7/adults; $3/seniors. Monday, August 17, was "Senior Citizens and Scout Day" so admission for us was free! Tickets and/or wristbands for amusement rides are sold separately.
There are information centers throughout the fair where maps and information about daily activities are provided and staff respond to questions. Misting stations, a great way to cool down a bit, are also located throughout the grounds. What a fun day!