Tradition and a little bit of the unexpected at the McLean County Fair

By Sandy Gallant

Tradition and a little bit of the unexpected at the McLean County Fair

August 3, 2012 Updated Aug 3, 2012 at 6:54 PM CDT

MCLEAN COUNTY, Ill. -- The fun is just beginning to heat up at the McLean County Fair.

These are the sights of Summertime here in the Midwest. It is the height of fair season in Illinois. In McLean County, the ferris wheel is up and the carousel is in motion, part of an August tradition that is as familiar as corn-on-the-cob.

"This is by far the largest youth event in our county," said Mike Swartz, McLean County fair manager.

For some McLean County youngsters, this is an opportunity to showcase pride.

"You get him ready and trim him up so they look nice and pretty and maybe the judge will give ya the blue ribbon," said a father.

4-H kids invest their time and energy to raise and groom the best animal they can. Alexis Stubblefield brought in her goats and pigs from Colfax.

"I think it gets kids more involved in Ag and people who don't know about it.," said Stubblefeld.

There's always the unusual and unexpected to be discovered at any fair. Look closely. Those are monkeys racing atop man's best friend. It's dubbed a Banana Derby. And a group of sea lions, yes sea lions, are puckering up at the fairgrounds this weekend.

"We're, I think, one of the most interesting attractions because like I say there's not sea lions out here," said Stefi Slavova, a sea lion trainer.

From the interesting to the appetizing, most fairgoers are all too happy to bite into a little, okay big, piece of Americana.

"You gotta come out here and get a pork chop or a beef sandwich to help the farmers," said fairgoer David Frost.

That's homegrown tradition pleasing the palate. As for Alexis, she's hoping her pigs takes home the prize. The McLean County Fair runs through Sunday from 8 am to 11 pm. Get complete details on McLean County Fair.org.

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