Tradition is what brings many people back to the Illinois State Fairgrounds every year. But mixed in with the corn dogs, carnival rides and Butter Cow, there are always a few changes. Here’s a list of the top new things to look for at this year’s fair, set for Aug. 10-20.
The Illinois State Fair has completely revamped the Gate 2 area, now called “Thrillville,” to provide a new space for entertainment. With the gate serving as the largest pedestrian entrance, the fair decided to create a new, exciting area to entertain fairgoers. The area will feature daring acts such as “Cirque Extreme” and “The Xpogo Stunt Team.”
Rising Star Stage
Located near Thrillville, the Rising Star Stage will be the ultimate spot for free entertainment. During the day, the Rising Star Stage will feature a variety of contests and game shows, but at night, concerts will take over the stage. Singers Chris Cavanagh and Chel, both openers at the Grandstand, will each be performing an extra free concert on the Rising Star Stage.
The fair will be bringing back the Twilight Ballroom, now located in the Illinois Building. The ballroom will serve as an air-conditioned venue for live music and dancing. The Twilight Ballroom will be open from 6-9 p.m. on the weekends of the fair, excluding the last Sunday.
The Shed, located on Central Avenue just east of the Dairy Building, will now be showcasing Illinois products, featuring the Illinois Winery and Illinois Brewery, among many other local companies. A small acoustic stage will provide live music as the crowd browses the products.
Food Truck Boulevard
The fair will be adding to their wide selection of fair foods with a new food truck boulevard, located on the north side of The Shed. The truck will feature many local food trucks, including “Hy-Vee,” “Skipper Island Oasis” and “Tony’s Fried Italian Beef Wagon.” The fair added the trucks to offer some extra variety from typical fair food.
In addition to the annual Twilight Parade, the fair will be putting on daily parades. The parades, organized by the Illinois State Fair Museum, will serve as an extra boost of entertainment during the lull of the afternoon. Each parade will correspond with the theme of the day, and will each spotlight an “Illinoisan of the Day.” Fairgoers can expect floats, antique vehicles and lots of additional entertainment.
The fair will feature a number of roving entertainers to keep fairgoers occupied throughout the day. A variety of street performers will be wandering around the fair, including “The Bronze Cowboy,” “Robot Ranger” and “Those Funny Little People.” Some may recognize “Those Funny Little People” from the popular television show “America’s Got Talent.” The entertainers will wander about the fair to serve as constant entertainment — even when fairgoers are waiting in the longest of lines.