McHenry County Fair 'Old-time country fair' looks to the future.
There's more than one reason a trip to the McHenry County Fair this week may well produce a memorable summer excursion.
There are the animal stories that will unfold, from bull riding to mutton busting, livestock exhibits to racing monkeys.
It'll be steel vs. steel in the demolition derby events set for Sunday.
And then there's the Tuesday afternoon pageant to decide who will reign over this year's proceedings as the McHenry County Queen.
A packed grandstand is expected for the 2019 musical entertainment schedule, featuring headliner Ted Nugent on Saturday night.
"We are an old-time country fair with a look to the future," said Rich Tobiasz, vice president of the fair board. "Some people like to see cars smash into one another. Some people like to see bull riding. Some people like to see horse pulls. Some people like the food."
Whatever draws people to the fair, Tobiasz said the size of the throngs converging on the fairgrounds each season is expanding.
"It gets bigger every year. The theme this year is Growing For You.' We bought some land, an additional 11 acres last year, for additional parking," he said.
During the course of the fair's six-day run, he said, an estimated 75,000 to 80,000 visitors stop by.
"It's the 71st year of the modern fair," he said. Before the fair came to the grounds at Route 47 and Country Club Road in Woodstock in 1949, the county fair was held in Woodstock Square, he said.
A new grandstand that seats more than 3,000 people will make its debut this year, he said. The original grandstand, removed to make way for construction after a land sale, was temporarily replaced with a smaller structure that held about 1,200. To celebrate, a 5:30 p.m. Friday ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled.
Grandstand events include the Tuesday fair queen pageant, draft horse pulls at 7 p.m. Wednesday, and bull riding, mutton busting and barrel racing at 7 p.m. Thursday.
Tobiasz said mutton busting is an event in which children, protected with helmets, ride sheep. Preregistration is required.
Tractor and truck pulls will entertain visitors seated in the grandstand Friday.
On Saturday, the arena turns into a concert venue with headliner Ted Nugent performing, following sets from Freebird USA and Femmes of Rock. The show starts at 6:30 p.m. As of July 24, the show was nearly sold out.
Demolition derby events are scheduled for the grandstand Sunday beginning at 1 p.m.
The fairgrounds also will host several "Banana Derby" events each day, a new event for the fair.
This event features monkeys, dressed in racing silks, jockeying for position on the backs of canines.
Tobiasz said the event was a hit at the Lake County Fair last year, so McHenry County booked them this year.
Other events include woodcarving demonstrations, equine events, magic shows and lumberjack shows featuring chain saw carving, ax throwing and log rolling, he said.
A variety of food will be available for purchase. The fair also has a carnival midway and a beer garden featuring live entertainment Wednesday through Saturday.
And WGN's Bill and Wendy will do their online bonus hour broadcast from the fairgrounds from 10 a.m. to noon Friday.
Tobiasz said competitors will exhibit livestock, fruits and vegetables, photography, art, crafts, antiques and other items.
"McHenry has a huge 4-H program," he said.