BLOOMINGTON — Whether exploring local agriculture, snagging a corn dog on the midway or catching a view from the top of a Ferris wheel, the McLean County Fair is a summer staple for many in the community.
The 2018 edition will run Aug. 1-5 on the grounds of the Interstate Center, 2301 W. Market St., in west Bloomington.
“It’s a wonderful experience for our urban neighbors who don’t have a direct connection to agriculture to learn about their food supply and talk to farmers. It’s also an opportunity for those engaged in agriculture to share their talents,” said Mike Swartz, fair manager.
A few changes have been made in the entertainment department this year, said Swartz.
“We have a new, on-ground act, Rhinestone Roper. Dan Mink is the iconic image of the American cowboy and he does a Wild West act with horses, roping and knife throwing,” said Swartz.
Several acts also have been consolidated to increase crowd size, he said.
The Tobin’s Pizza Big Smokers Tractor Pull and Local Pickup Truck Pull-Offs will combine and take place at 6 p.m. Aug. 1. Admission is $8.
The popular band Brushville will perform at 8 p.m. Aug. 2 with $6 admission; Walker Hayes will perform at 8 p.m. Friday, $8 admission; and the annual demolition derby is 7 p.m. Aug. 4; tickets are $15.
Beer will be served during grandstand entertainment, it is available 30 minutes before each show and ends 30 minutes before each event concludes.
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In addition to an Extreme Raptor Show, petting zoo and 4-H events, free entertainment will take place from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily.
Between carnival rides and concerts, guests can explore more than 5,300 4-H projects on display, completed by 765 McLean County 4-H students.
“The traditional idea that people have about 4-H is very different now. Kids do projects in anything from robotics to visual arts. (Projects in) Cloverleaf Hall showcase that and highlight what the kids have done through the year,” said Leah Street, McLean County 4-H youth development educator.
The county fair is a key component in the journey of a 4-H member, noted Street.
“The fair allows students to show off what they've mastered through teamwork and cooperation and show club pride and a sense of belonging,” she said.
Gates for the fair will be open from 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. Aug 1 to Aug. 5. During the fair, exhibits will be open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, closing at 5 p.m. on Sunday.
Carnival hours at 1 to 11 p.m. Wednesday through Friday; noon to 11 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 10 p.m. Sunday.
Carnival tickets are $7 for adults; $4 for kids ages 6-12; and free for children 5 and under.
Free tickets to the carnival and grandstand entertainment will be given away daily at www.Facebook.com/McLeanCountyFair.
Two admission passes also will be given to donors at a blood drive from 8 a.m. to noon on Friday (Aug. 3) at the McLean County Farm Bureau office, 2242 Westgate Drive in Bloomington. For eligibility information and to schedule an appointment call 1-800-733-2767 or visit www.redcrossblood.org.
Visit www.mcleancountyfair.org for a full schedule and ticket information.
Contact Julia Evelsizer at (309) 820-3254. Follow her on Twitter: @pg_evelsizer