We found the heat! This week, the heat sure kicked on outside. There were temps in the 90s and heat index over 100 a couple days. Interesting it was that same type of weather the same week last year. I vividly recall how hot, humid and miserable it was last year at the Stephenson County Fair. Hopefully, this year with the fair moving back into July, it will be cooler. We are finishing up with planting. We put some more corn in right before the June 25 cutoff date on some river bottom ground and are planting a few more beans now. I had hoped to finish those on Sunday, but a storm moved through dropping four-tenths of an inch and rained us out.

Second-pass spray has been applied to most of our corn acres. Intending to spray second pass on a number of bean fields tomorrow, if the weather holds. The current weather forecast this week includes precipitation every day, Tuesday through Saturday. The least chance is a 58% chance Tuesday. The rest of the week, the chances are 60% to 70%. The amount forecast total for the week would be another 1.5 inches of rain, plus temperatures from 83 to 86 degrees, which should feel like 89 to 94 degrees. It should be a good crop growing week, but it won’t be very helpful for the folks trying to cut new seeding and make second-crop hay. I did say current forecast because the forecast sure seems to fluctuate a lot lately.

Crops are extremely varied in growth stage across the region. There are fields with corn just coming up all the way to corn that is knee to waist high. The soybeans I have seen are a little closer to being the same in growth stage. Overall, with the rains and heat this week, crops are looking fairly decent, considering the stress they have endured thus far. It saddens me seeing so many places unplanted this year.

The next week or so, I will spend a lot of time away from the farm at the Stephenson County Fairgrounds. Thank you to my family for picking up the slack on the farm and being there when I need extra help at the fairgrounds. We get a little pre-fair celebration on July 6 at the Light the Night Freedom Fest. The fair and the fireworks group have teamed up to add a demolition derby at 1 p.m. to the day’s events. There will be a kids’ Power Wheels demo along with four derby classes. Admission to the fairgrounds is free to enjoy the food, vendors, music and fireworks. To enjoy the derby, there is a $10 admission fee for ages 5 and over. Admission for kids 4 and under is free.

Then next week the Stephenson County Fair kicks off on Tuesday, July 9, with Youth and Family Night. There will be 4-H awards, Ag Olympics and the Pro Bulls and Barrels Show by Rice Bull Riding. Grandstand admission is only $5 for those 19 and older; ages 18 and under are free. Wednesday, we bring in the U.S. FMX Championship Series Motocross Thrill Show with celebrity judges. Admission for this show is $5 for ages 5 and over; 4 and under is free. Thursday and Friday, July 11 and 12, the Midwest Summer Nationals Tractor, Truck and Mini-Rod Pulls come roaring into town with four sessions of pulling over two days. Pulls are at noon and 6 p.m. each day. The Thursday noon session is free for everyone. Evening sessions are both $10, and the Friday noon session is $5. Kids 4 and under are always free for the pulls. Classes this year include super modified tractors, hot rod semis, pro stock, limited pro stock, unlimited super stock, 4WD diesel trucks, mini-rods, farmer class, street stock trucks and many more. Full session and class schedules can be found on the Stephenson County Fair website under the Tractor Pull tab.

Then we close out the fair with rising country stars Tyler Rich with special guests Brown & Gray and Back Country Roads. Concert tickets range from $20 in the grandstand seating to $50 VIP passes. Other popular things to do are walking through the livestock barns, enjoying music and programming in the Entertainment and Rest Tent which becomes a family-friendly beer garden on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings after 8 p.m. We offer a variety of music in the tent, country, rock, gospel and more. Back by popular demand are the racing pigs, Stephenson County Farm Bureau Farm Fun Zone and demonstrations by glass blowers.

Don’t forget about the food! What would a fair be without food? The Hog House and Beef Corral are local favorites. Cheese curds, elephant ears, corn dogs, cream puffs and everything else you can think of can be found at the fair along with carnival rides. Get out there and support the fairs in your area. They are an excellent way to bring all walks of life together and showcase agriculture in Illinois to the masses!

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