BELVIDERE, Ill. — The bovines are back for the 2021 Boone County Fair.
“Come out and see the friends and neighbors you haven’t seen in a year,” said Tom Ratcliffe, who handles advertising and publicity for the Boone County Fair. “We’re dedicated to families at our fair with strictly family entertainment.”
Livestock owners will bring thousands of animals to show at the Aug. 10-15 fair.
“There will be about 4,000 head of livestock competing, including one of the largest draft horse shows for a county fair in the state,” Ratcliffe said. “There will be from 200 to 300 draft horses competing during the week in classes from two- to six-hitch teams.”
In 2019, the outdoor horse arena was refurbished.
“There is new fencing and lighting, so the arena is really nice with plenty of seating and the horses have plenty of room,” Ratcliffe said.
Horse owners come from across the Midwest to participate at the fair.
“Some years we’ve had a team come from Canada,” Ratcliffe said. “If you like horses, the Boone County Fair is the place to be. We have built two buildings for the horses and we’re going to build a third building in the near future.”
Ponies are also shown at the fair along with dairy cattle, beef cattle, sheep, pigs, goats, poultry and alpacas.
“We have a milk house in the dairy barn, so if you’re there at the right time, you can see cows being milked,” Ratcliffe said. “And in the poultry barn there are chicks that are hatching.”
Skinners Amusements will provide rides during the fair.
“We have 150 acres packed with all kinds of great stuff,” Ratcliffe said. “We have six days of great local bands planned in the Entertainment Pavilion and a couple of magicians on the grounds, including Mr. D’s, who does several shows every day out of his 1930s pickup truck.”
The All-Star Stunt Dogs will perform free shows several times every day of the fair.
“They are rescue dogs from across the country that do amazing acts,” Ratcliffe said.
Many events are planned for the grandstand, including a concert by Diamond Rio on Saturday at 8 p.m.
“We’re getting a lot of excitement on or Facebook page from people about the concert,” Ratcliffe said.
“On Wednesday and Thursday there will be truck and tractor pulls that will include all kinds of trucks, semis, hot rods, garden tractors and tractors,” he said. “If you like tractor pulls, we’ve got all kinds of vehicles competing.”
Next Level Pro-Bull Riding will be at the grandstand at 7 p.m. on Friday.
“That’s a sanctioned event, so the cowboys will earn national points,” Ratcliffe said. “The clowns are great and it’s a lively, on the edge of your seat entertaining show.”
Free kids games are planned for Wednesday and Thursday from 10 a.m. to noon at Gazebo Park, behind Exhibit Hall No. 3.
“Usually 200 to 300 kids participate in the games like sack races, egg toss, bubble gum blowing and watermelon eating,” Ratcliffe said. “The games are sponsored by Midland State Bank and the kids receive money prizes, ribbons and first place trophies.”
The Boone County Fair is owned and operated by the Granges of Boone County.
“The fair is run by the members of the seven chapters of the Grange in Boone County,” Ratcliffe explained. “The Granges started the Boone County Fair Association in 1957 and the fair was moved to the new fairgrounds in 1964.”
Several members of the Ratcliffe family have volunteered to assist at the fair, including two brothers and their father who was president in the 1970s and 1980s.
“Going from 80 acres of empty ground to what we have now has been quite a journey for the fair,” Ratcliffe said. “The fair is operated by all volunteers and it’s a big fundraiser for the community organizations who look forward to it.”
In 2019, Ratcliffe said, 220,000 people came through the gates during the Boone County Fair.
“This is a community service project that got out of hand,” he said.
The fair is open from 7:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. General admission tickets are $6 on Tuesday and $7 Wednesday through Sunday; free children 10 years old and under.
More information about the Boone County Fair is available on the website at www.boonecountyfair.com.
“That’s a new website and now our entire fair book is on the website,” Ratcliffe said. “You can go online, pick the department you want to enter and print the form to complete your entry.”
Boone County Fair
8791 IL-76, Belvidere, Illinois