#mce_temp_url#Take your city kids to the farm with a trip to a county fair this summer and show them a whole different way of life. Our country cousins are more than eager to teach kids about their life and introduce them to some of their friends-the cows, pigs and bunnies that they bring to the fair for competitions.
Each year the more than 100 counties in Illinois hold fairs, and the state of Illinois holds two fairs of its own. Most of the fairs feature similar activities: livestock competitions, hands-on areas for young kids to learn about agriculture in Illinois and, of course, plenty of food and carnival rides.
Before you head out to the fair, check online for a schedule of activities. In addition to mainstage shows every evening, most fairs also offer kids' stages with family friendly magic shows or music. Best of all for young kids, the fair also means lots of visits with the animals-it's like a giant petting zoo.
To meet the tweens and teens who are showing their animals is a chance for Chicago kids to connect with others in the state who lead an entirely different lifestyle. The country cousins are friendly and willing to talk about their animals and their life on the farm. From blacksmiths demonstrating their trade to vendors selling fossils and rocks, most people at the fair enjoy time talking to the young visitors about their area of expertise.
Concerts and entertainment at the fairs can range from wildly popular musicians to rodeos to smash 'em up Demolition Derbies that have everyone in the audience screaming and cheering on their favorite clunker. Some entertainment is included in the price of admission, but things like the demolition derby can cost as much as $7 extra per person.
One word of advice before visiting any county or state fair-be ready to dole out the dollars. Carnival ride bracelets can easily cost $20 each, admission can be anywhere from a couple dollars for younger kids to $10 per adult. And like festivals everywhere, food and drink prices are sky-high so eat before you go if possible. Make sure to bring bug spray, sun screen, hats and plenty of water-there's little relief from the sun at most fairs.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.