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Ferris wheel, fair food, free shows and fun at the fair!

The 159th annual Bureau County Fair begins in just five days.

There are so many new and exciting things happening this year, that my story doesn’t have room for them all, so I am just going to highlight a few of the more unique ones.

If you love big and fast carnival rides, be sure to stop out and see the N.A.M.E. Carnival which comes to the Bureau County Fair straight from the Illinois State Fair. We have the huge Century Ferris Wheel making a return to the fair this year, along with the Tornado, Himalaya and Orbiter rides for the not-so-faint of heart.

There will still be plenty of rides for the little kids too, so check out the daily wrist band ride specials. It’s only $20 for unlimited rides each day.

Here’s a quick recap of the daily events at the fair.

The fair opens at noon on Wednesday, and there is an antique tractor pull in the grandstand at 6 p.m. Please stop in the fine arts building and see who took home the blue ribbons on their photography, canning, collections and more. The textile department is located in the fair museum building.

Thursday is senior citizen day with bingo in the hospitality tent in the afternoon. By now you have probably already picked up your Beach Boys’ tickets for their Thursday night concert. If not, hurry out to the fairgrounds now because there aren’t very many grandstand seats left. All advanced tickets also include your fairgrounds admission, so come out to the show early and see what the fair has to offer.

After 14 years, bull riding returns to the fair on Friday night with the Southern Extreme Bull Riding Association putting on the rodeo event in front of the grandstand at 7 p.m. There are lots of livestock judging on Saturday, plus the Farm Stock & Illini State Pullers Truck and Tractor pull starting at 5:30 p.m. Watch for a John Deere bench to be raffled off between classes Saturday night at the pull.

Sunday kicks off with a community church service with 17 churches participating at 10 a.m. Free watermelon and cantaloupe will be served after church in the hospitality tent. The chain saw carving auction and queen’s pie auction will be Sunday at 2:30 p.m. Come bid on one of the amazing wooden eagles and benches that Dan Harding intricately carves with his chain saw or a tasty apple pie.

Horse lovers can see plenty of action on Saturday and Sunday. Saturday’s horse speed show will begin at 10 a.m. with barrel racing, flag racing and pole bending. There will be $2,000 additional payout for the barrel races, so expect to see a huge crowd of horses and riders competing. On Sunday at 10 a.m. the Open Horse Show and Draft Horse Show halter classes will be held in McCutchan Arena.

Then at 1 p.m. come out for the Open Horse Show performance classes and the Draft Horse hitch classes. These classes will alternate in the arena, so you will see Western and English riding classes along with the four- and six-horse hitch classes featuring the draft horses.

There’s lots of action for the kids on Sunday. Start them off chasing chickens or mutton bustin’ during the during the Lil” Wranglers Rodeo. You can still sign the kids up through Monday with a $10 entry fee at the fair office.

Sunday afternoon a new event has been added before the Demo Derby. The “Barbie Car Bash” will feature kids using their Barbie cars or other power wheels battery-powered cars in a child’s Demo Derby at 2:30 p.m. in front of the grandstand. Families should bring their own power wheels cars to the west gate at 2 p.m. to sign up. Sign up is free with a paid adult admission to the Demo. Rules are available at the fair office. Helmets are required.

Bureau County Fair has always been known for their awesome free entertainment, and we have a great new act this year. The Galaxy Girl Thrill Show is going to amaze fair-goers. Watch for her 127-foot-high platform where she will do death-defying gymnastic routines as the pole bends and sways. She will perform Wednesday though Friday at 5 and 7 p.m. and three times on Saturday and Sunday. The Magic Matt Fun Show will entertain the family daily with magic show and balloon art. Everyone enjoys sitting in the hospitality tent, eating their great fair food and listening to the many free musical artists perform.

The Bureau County Farm Bureau will have a special 100th anniversary exhibit, plus the Farmer for a Day activity for the kids. Be sure to stop in the fair museum and see the historic displays from around Bureau County as well as the history of the fair.

You get all of this (plus more that I didn’t have room to mention) for a low admission charge of $5 for adults, 7-12 years are $2 and kids 6 and under are free.

The Bureau County Fair is already looking forward to our 160th annual fair on Aug. 26-30 of next year, and we hope to see you there!

Kathy Costerisan is a representative for the Bureau County Fairgrounds.

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