Insider’s Guide to Visiting the Lake County Fair {Grayslake}

Are you planning to visit the Lake County Fair?  Of course you are! This year’s fair begins on Wednesday, July 26 and runs through Sunday, July 30. Take some time and connect with Lake County’s agricultural roots somewhere other than a farmers market. My family LOVES to see the farm animals. My daughter and I sneak off to enjoy a giant corn dog and see all the sights. That corn dog doesn’t taste better anywhere else, and we always find great things to do and see at the fair. Use this Insider’s Guide to Visiting the Lake County Fair to make your family’s trip easy, breezy and fun.

Guide to the 2017 Lake County Fair

Insider’s Guide to Visiting the Lake County Fair

1. Pack your own essentials.
Sunscreen, factory-sealed water bottles (or EMPTY, refillable water bottles), a stroller or baby carrier, and a snack for younger kids are a must. You can easily refill water bottles in the Expo Hall. The fair has both outdoor and indoor exhibits, but there is not a lot of shade, so be sure to bring sunglasses and a hat. I also like to pack my own hand sanitizer or wipes, although there are usually sanitizing stations located near the barns.

2. Wear gym shoes.
You will be walking through barns. You will be within arms reach of live animals that are fed, bathed, and reside at the fair. These animals cross the same pathways that you walk on. While the barns are generally quite clean, it helps to wear gym shoes, and consider bringing a pair of sandals to slip on for the drive home. You will thank me for this tip.

Lake County Fair
3. Parking — pay cash to park or plan to hike.
Parking is located in lots accessible off of Midlothian Road, just north of Peterson Road. The fairground is a large venue; preferred parking in the paved lot near the Main Gate is available for $10 (CASH only). Otherwise, parking is FREE, but it may involve a long walk to the fairground. There is a FREE shuttle bus that operates from the Prairie Crossing train station to the Main Gate at the fair that runs on Friday and Saturday from 3:00 p.m. to 12:00 p.m. and Sunday from 1:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

4. Arrive early.
If you want to avoid the crowds, the best time to attend the fair is on a weekday, early in the day. If you go on the weekend, again, arrive early in the day to avoid the crowds. Friday and Saturday evening are my least favorite times to enjoy the fair as a family, as the crowd becomes much more dense and it is harder to navigate a baby carrier, stroller and young children.

Lake County Fair
5. Bring CASH.
A service fee is charged if you purchase admission at the Main Gate with a credit card. Most fair vendors operate on a cash-only basis. However, admission and discounted weekday-only, carnival ride wristbands can be purchased in advance online at the Lake County Fair website. The Main Gate opens at 8:00 a.m. for ticket sales if you want to purchase in-person, ahead of your visit.

6. Start outside and work your way inside.
Begin your trip by visiting Livestock Lane, and then take in the Expo Hall, which is air-conditioned and has activities for children. If you head directly to the barns, you can avoid the Midway completely, where the flashing lights and noises, carnival games, rides and mobile food vendors are located. We try to negotiate a plan with our kids before we go to avoid the dreaded Midway Meltdown.

Lake County Fair
7. Check the daily events schedule.
Some events draw a crowd early, like the Banana Derby Racing, a unique experience where monkeys race on dogs. It’s epic, and it only happens at scheduled times. Check for times of livestock demonstrations, pig races, competitions, and grandstand and track events. There is also a fishing booth, presentations by the Lake County Farm Heritage Association, and hands-on activities in the Expo Hall for kids. Don’t miss the display by the Lake County Sheriff or the Ag Adventure presented by the Lake County Farm Bureau. Events are listed out by day at the Lake County Fair website.

8. Enjoy the “fair” food.
So you already know what I splurge on — a giant corn dog. But there are other great options, too. Waffle sundae, anyone? How many different foods can be fried and served on a stick? Will there be Nitro-ice cream this year? You’ll have to attend to find out. And there’s almost always fudge. Yum. Here’s what Little Lake County has enjoyed in the past.

Lake County Fair

9. Support the 4-H Club and browse the competitions. 
The kids in Lake County 4-H University of Illinois Extension exhibit at the fair every year. View their amazing projects, crafts and competitions. All of the competitions in the Lake County fair are incredible. From gardening and baking to quilting, photography and fine arts, the fair showcases the talent of Lake County residents in judged contests every year. Take a few minutes to see what your fellow Lake County residents are doing.

10. Pace Yourself.
Attending the fair, thankfully, is not a competition. Allow plenty of time to browse the exhibits and enjoy the fair. Take breaks often and make use of the indoor washrooms in the Expo Hall. Watch the joy in your children’s eyes as they view the farm animals. After all, the Lake County Fair only happens once a year. If you need more inspiration, visit our Top 10 Reasons to Visit the Lake County Fair.

Lake County Fair

Lake County Fair
1060 East Peterson Road, Grayslake*  | (847) 680-7200
Wednesday, July 26 through Sunday, July 30, 2017
* Note: Some GPS systems will require a different address: 19822 W. Peterson Road, Libertyville, Illinois.  
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Adults (ages 13 and older): $10
Children ages 6-12: $5
Children age 5 and younger: FREE
Family Fair Pack (2 adults and 2 children age 6-12): $25
See website for details for military, veteran, senior citizen and season pass admission.

Wednesday and Thursday, 26-27 July, 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Friday, 28 July, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Saturday, 29 July, 10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Sunday, 30 July, 10:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.

Note: Midway rides and games open at 12:00 p.m. daily. The Expo Hall is open on Wednesday – Saturday from  10:00 a.m. – 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.

What is your family’s favorite activity at the Lake County Fair?

About Jennifer Johnson 52 Articles
Jennifer is mom to a teenage boy and a tween girl, and spends her time changing radio stations in her minivan while driving to band concerts, learning new texting lingo and keeping track of the latest trends in electronics and hairstyles. Jennifer spends any free time she can find trying to stay organized, testing out new recipes that everyone might eat, reading, crafting or trying to beat her own best score in SpellTower. She also serves as a managing editor at Little Lake County.

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