Before visiting the Sandwich Fair on Wednesday, Sept. 6, four-year-old Thales Hougham and his brother Soren, 2, had only seen cows from the road.
At the fair, they were able to pet them and watch as their owners fed, groomed and showed them to judges.
“It was a totally new experience for them,” their mother, Rachyl Hougham, said. “They saw a cow being washed for the first time today. I love that the Sandwich Fair teaches them about animals. The fair is always a lot of fun.”
The 130th annual Sandwich Fair, the DeKalb County fair, opened Sept. 6 and will run through Sunday, Sept. 10, at the Sandwich Fairgrounds, 1401 Suydam Road.
The first fair was in 1888 when a local livestock group purchased 20 acres of land. Today, the fairgrounds span 186 acres, not including the parking area and the long entrance road.
Sandwich Fair General Manager Brad Anderson said that the fair is one of the oldest continuing county fairs in Illinois and the Illinois county fair with the most exhibitors and people in attendance by number. The fair draws daily crowds of more than 100,000 people, with the top attendance days reaching more than 200,000.
Ken Tyrrell, the fair’s vice president and general livestock supervisor, said that the Sandwich Fair is the largest county fair in Illinois.
“We have approximately five times more entries than any other fair in the state of Illinois,” Tyrrell said. “I think it’s because people love the fair; there’s always so much to see and do.”
This year’s fair includes the FFA Farm Zoo, antique farm machinery, arts and crafts demonstrations, exhibits, displays, rides and more than 300 vendors each day. Wristbands for rides cost $20 Sunday. Wristbands are not sold Saturday.
Animals that are shown at the fair include swine, sheep, dairy goats, dairy cattle, poultry and rabbits. Tyrrell said that there are more than 325 livestock exhibitors at this year’s fair.
Sixteen-year-old Kyle Westphal of Newark showed six of his pigs at this year’s fair.
“I love showing my pigs and interacting with people who have the same likes as I do,” Westphal said. “I meet a bunch of new people and make friends while doing it. We come every year to the fair, and I love to watch the truck and tractor pulls. That’s my favorite thing to do at the fair.”
Veterinarian Marianne Krumdick of Sandwich Veterinary Hospital said that she works with each livestock barns’ superintendent to make sure the animals are well-cared for during their stay at the fair.
“We walk around to check to make sure they have enough food and water,” Krumdick said. “We hope that by visiting the fair, people are educated about the different types and breeds of animals, learn about animal care and see where their food comes from.”
On Saturday, NTPA-sanctioned tractor pulls will be at 12:30 and 6:30 p.m. and micro-mini tractor pulls will be at 7 p.m. The Sandwich Auto Show Sunday will take place from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday and there will be demolition derbies at 1 and 3:30 p.m.
Daily admission is $9, children ages 6 to 12 enter for $6 and children 5 and younger enter free. Entrance is $6 after 3 p.m. Sunday. Parking is free every day.
“The fair has so much to offer: the grounds with lots of shade, fair food, rides and a location close to the suburbs,” Tyrrell said. “People young and old enjoy the fair. There really is something here for everyone.”
More information about the Sandwich Fair and a full list of daily events can found at www.sandwichfair.com.