Many memories are just waiting to be made
PRINCETON — The Bureau County Fairgrounds has been the family entertainment center of our county for 164 years. Many memories are made during the annual fair, and the year 2019 is no exception.
Here’s some of the activities you will find during the 164th annual Bureau County Fair, Wednesday, Aug. 21, through Sunday, Aug. 25.
On Wednesday, the Fine Arts building will be full of blue-ribbon winners. Judging will be complete at noon, and you can see the ribbon winners in hobbies and collections, photography, textiles, canning, art, flowers and vegetables.
Baked goods are judged daily with cakes coming in on Wednesday. On Thursday, breads and rolls are shown, Friday is pies, and Saturday is cookies. You can win that day’s prize-winning entries at the cake walk that night at 9 p.m. in front of the fair office.
To keep fresh flowers for the public to view, there are two flower shows. The second set of fresh flowers are brought in to be judged on Friday morning.
The other exhibit halls will be lined with commercial exhibitors. Be sure to stop and visit with them and see what their business has to offer you. There is even Farmer for a Day where kids can experience apple picking and cow milking.
The entertainment starts right away Wednesday with music in the Hospitality Building at 4:30 p.m. Grab a corn dog and a lemonade shake-up and sit back and enjoy the music. At 6 p.m., there will be a program on vegetable gardening using the Gutter Grow Garden System in the Fine Arts building.
The Second Story Teens’ Talent Show will be held in front of the grandstand starting at 5:30 p.m. For $10 admission, you will get to see a group of the most talented teens in the county perform different kinds of music.
Then be sure to stick around because the Rockland Road Band will take the stage at about 7 p.m. Fueled by a mutual passion for many genres and longing for a fun, family-friendly musical experience for their kids, Paul and Jamie Martin began singing together in 2010 with their four children: March, Kell, Texas and Tallant.
Quickly realizing that the kids all showed an uncanny knack for hearing harmonies, as well as for playing instruments, they began performing shows together.
“Our house has always been like a live jukebox, with an all-you-can-play selection of musical instruments,” says Jamie. “Music completely engulfs our lives, so our kids have never known a day without it. And that’s just how they want it.”
You will be amazed by the music this family presents.
The North American Midway comes from the Illinois State Fair and opens at 5 p.m. Wednesday through Friday. The wristband ride specials are $25. On Saturday, there are two wristband ride sessions — from 1 to 5 p.m., and from 5 to 11 p.m. On Sunday, the last blast carnival special runs from 1 to 6 p.m. for $25.
Thursday is Senior Citizens Day and also the day of the annual Country Show. Senior citizens can play bingo in the Hospitality Building starting at noon and even have some treats to eat. Admission for seniors is only $2 at the gate. The exhibit halls open at noon.
Thursday night at 7:30 p.m., country music fans will fill the track and grandstand to see Gary Allan. He released his first album, “Used Heart for Sale,” in 1996 and since then has released eight additional studio albums selling more than 8 million albums.
Friday is truck and tractor pull night at the fair beginning at 5:30 p.m. with the farm stock tractors. Entertainment starts at 4:30 p.m. and continues throughout the evening. There’s even a beer garden next to the grandstand if you need a place to cool off.
On Saturday morning, you can see speed and action in the McCutchan Arena. The horse speed show features barrel racing and pole bending with both adults and kids racing.
Livestock will be shown all around the grounds most of the day. Barbecued ribs will be smoking, getting ready for the contest judging in the afternoon.
The demolition derby begins at 5 p.m. in front of the grandstand, but be sure to get there early. The kids Power Wheels demo derby begins at 4:30 p.m., and it’s one of the funniest things you will see all week. The little competitors crash and bang their Barbie cars and Power Wheels just like their dads do in the big cars.
Wear your red, white and blue to the fair for the Salute to Veterans. Veterans and a guest are admitted free to the fair on Sunday. As one of the large Flags of Freedom waves in the infield, come to the grandstand and watch as several area veterans are awarded a beautiful Quilt of Valor. The Illinois Valley Quilts of Valor organization has awarded hand-sewn quilts to nearly 100 veterans.
The program begins at 1 p.m., and admission is free. There will be patriotic music, a program by the Flags of Freedom spokesman, state Rep. Dan Swanson will speak and the veterans will be recognized.
The open horse show is in the McCutchan Arena beginning at 10 a.m. Stop by the Hospitality Building for free watermelon starting at noon and enjoy the music throughout the afternoon. The Queens Pie Auction and chain saw carving auction start at 2:30 p.m. And the kids can ride the carnival rides from 1 to 6 p.m. for $25.
Gary Swanson has a full list of entertainers performing in the Hospitality Building starting at 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday and continuing through Sunday night. There will be gospel, jazz, old time rock and roll, bluegrass, barbershoppers and more. Something for everyone. Grab some food and enjoy the tunes.
There will be some special programs daily during the fair. On Wednesday at 6 p.m., Kathy Bauer will present a program on the Gutter Grow Garden System. This is a gardening system utilizing rain gutters and buckets that requires no weeding.
The Wild World of Animals will have several shows daily. Watch for cuddly, slithery and scary animals at their educational presentations. The Bear Hollow chain saw carvers will be taking huge logs and creating amazing carved artwork every day of the fair.
On Thursday night at 6 p.m., there will be a K9 police dog demonstration. Watch out, criminals!
The sneak peek of Nightmare on Fairgrounds Road will begin Thursday and continue through Saturday night. The Quilts of Valor will be on display in the Fine Arts Department all week. On Sunday, they will be awarded to some veterans during the Salute to Veterans.
On Friday, you can paint a masterpiece with a Bottle and Brush program by the Princeton Arts Academy at 6:30 p.m. You will paint a patriotic picture with sunflowers. The cost is $32, and you can register at www.princetonartsacademy.com.
The K9 police dog demonstration will be held again at 6 p.m. Also on Friday night at 8 p.m., Tanks Pet Supply/Boek-el-Zoo will have a mini pet show.
On Saturday, follow your nose to the BBQ Rib Cook Off. When the contestants’ ribs are submitted for judging, the rest of their ribs are there for you to taste and compare. It’s held in the building by the east gate.
The Bureau County Fair queens will have kds fames from 1 to 3 p.m. It’s free to participate in. At 2 p.m., watch for Rex Masters, the 6-foot-tall friendly dog, to make an appearance.
At 5 p.m., Patricia Anderson, an associate professor from Western Illinois University and a Princeton native, will present a program on Living and Working with Animals humanely. She will tell about animal behaviors and how to make life more fun and less challenging, using video examples from parrots that she has trained. She will tell about teaching her birds to do many things, from walking onto a scale to be weighed or even how to play games.
On Sunday, be sure to come to the fairgrounds for many more fun events. Free watermelon in the Hospitality Building begins at noon. The Queen’s Pie and baked goods auction is at 2:30 p.m. Pie sales funds are used to help with the fair queen’s state pageant expenses in January.
The amazing wooden carvings that Bear Hollow chain Saw Carvers have made will be auctioned off right after the pies. You can take home your own chain saw crafted eagle, raccoon or wooden bench. There will also be another Tanks Pet Show at 3:30 p.m.