The Clark County Fair will host the first of Illinois' 104 county fairs when it opens an eight-day run in Marshall June 8.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture released the complete schedule of 2008 county fairs. Copies can be obtained by calling the department's Bureau of County Fairs and Horse Racing at 217-782-4231 or visiting its website at www.agr.state.il.us. The electronic version on the internet includes a database that is searchable by both date and location.
"With gas prices at record highs, I encourage families to consider a trip to their county fair as a way to save on travel expenses when they plan their summer vacations this year," Acting Agriculture Director Tom Jennings says. "County fairs offer affordable entertainment the whole family can enjoy, from livestock shows and demolition derbies to games and carnival rides."
Other county fair attractions typically include queen pageants, truck and tractor pulls, musical concerts and 4-H exhibits. Thirty-seven county fairs feature harness racing. Eight offer thoroughbred racing and seven offer quarter horse races.
"County fairs are part of Illinois' agricultural heritage and give visitors a chance to learn about the state's top industry while spending time with family and friends," adds Charlyn Fargo, bureau chief of County Fairs and Horse Racing.
The Illinois Department of Agriculture supports the efforts of the volunteer boards that organize county fairs by providing funding for award premiums, the maintenance of facilities and agriculture education programs. In fiscal year 2008, this support totaled more than $8 million.
The 2008 county fair season concludes Sept. 14 when the Gallatin County Fair ends in Ridgway and the Okawville Agricultural Products Fair closes in Washington County. The full schedule can be found at www.agr.state.il.us/fair/countyfairssched.php.