Champaign County Fair winds down

The Champaign County Fair wraps up this weekend after a week of rides and funnel cakes. The fair drew in a good crowd, thanks to the cooperative weather throughout most of the week, fair organizers said.

The fair kicked off on Friday, July 24, with the Demolition Derby, which drew a large crowd to start off the week of events.

The week continued with Sunday’s “Family Day.” Karen Duffin, the fair manager, said Family Day was a great turnout this year.

“The turnout’s been really good,” Duffin said. “The weather has helped too. Sunday was Family Day and we had several things going on.”

Sunday’s Family Day included the annual Horse Show in the morning, followed by the Prairieland Monster Truck Nationals in the evening.

While the weekend really began the fair, Monday evening’s Talent Show brought in a big crowd to the grandstands. Janet Largent, the Talent Show Director, said the event, as a whole, was a huge success, filled with lots of great talent.

“We had 14 acts and they were all excellent,” said Largent. “Between first and second place in the junior division it was just one point.”

The Talent Show featured nearly all singing acts, except for one instrumental duet. Brandy Carlson, 10, won the junior division, while the senior crown went to a duet, Phil Martin, 21 of Champaign and Conner Bunting, 17, of Gifford.

Along with the Talent Show on Monday evening, the grandstands also hosted the “Big” Give-Away.

“We gave away two televisions, a grill, a couple hundred dollars in cash and other prizes,” said Largent. “We had a really good time.”

As the week went on, each day at the fair brought new events, including Harness Racing on Tuesday. Although the weather was rough on Tuesday evening, the Harness Racing managed to still take place.

Wednesday afternoon welcomed senior citizens into the fairgrounds, for free, during the day. Many senior citizens from the area came to experience the fair food and vendors with a slightly less crowd then during the night festivities. Pat Potts of Champaign came to the fair for another year, an event she has been attending since she was a little girl.

“I grew up at Philo,” said Potts. “I was in 4-H and I did sewing. I always had dresses entered in the fair. I did get a blue ribbon.”

Potts, among the other daytime fairgoers, said she enjoys just walking around and looking at things.

“I like to go through Kessler Hall,” she said. “I just like the fair. I like the smell. It seems to me that they try to cater to all different levels of what people enjoy.”

While the fair rides zoomed and the animals grazed, fair attendees were able to indulge in different types of fair foods. Barry Leonard, a Pronto Pup vendor, said the hot dogs on a stick were selling all week.

“We’ve been coming here for 30 years,” said Leonard. “It’s been really nice weather. Tuesday night got hurt a little bit with all the storms in the area, but it’s been a pretty good crowd.”

Leonard said the Pronto Pup stand is specifically for summer fairs.

“We’ve been to a couple county fairs this summer and then we’ll go to the State Fair,” he said.

As the fair wound down to conclude its 157th year in operation, fairgoers realized how successful the fair was, once again.

“There’s been a lot of changes through the years,” said Pat Potts. “But I love the County Fair. There’s nothing like it.”