BELIVDERE, Ill. (WTVO) — Carnival rides, tents and more are springing up across Belvidere as over 400 vendors prepare for this year’s Boone County Fair starting on Tuesday.
Sprawling more than 100 acres of the Boone County Fairgrounds, next week’s event has something for everyone, says Tom Ratcliffe, marketing director for the fairgrounds.
“It’s become one of the biggest county fairs in the state of Illinois, which is amazing,” said Ratcliffe. “Last five fairs we’ve averaged 213,000 people in six days.”
For many vendors, like first-time Boone County Fair vendors Dawn and Devon Clendenen, preparation ahead of the fair is paramount, as the look and quality of a vendor’s booth can be a big factor in attracting fairgoers.
“We’ve always gotten a lot of compliments on our booth set up because it takes me about three days, three or four days, to set this up. So I’m a little bit crazy about it,” said Dawn. “But I like to have it walk in like you’re in a boutique and it looks good. So I put all my blood, sweat and tears into setting up.”
The mother-son duo have participated in flea markets for 15 years, but this year, the Benton, Wisconsin natives made the trip to Belvidere with excitement for a new experience.
“We have something for everybody. There’s garage metal, garage signs for the husbands, purses for the wives, toys for the kids, bucket hats for everybody. So we have a lot of unique things here,” said Dawn.
Some familiar faces are also returning amongst the newcomers. Green Acres Lawn Care and Landscaping is back with a waterfall setup that Green Acres president Josh Robertson says took four hours.
“It’s always a challenge doing these….especially with running water and issues with ground and that sort of thing,” said Robertson. “Building them above ground when they’re meant to be in the ground. And so we’ve got a good handle on it and we’re going to cut out here early and then come back Monday to put all our plants and stuff in after the weekend.”
Other attractions include the pork chop review, the Cincinnati Circus, the Rhinestone Roper and antique tractors.
“A lot to see, a lot to do. We have a lot of free entertainment,” summed up Ratcliffe.
The gates officially open for the fair on Tuesday at noon.