Daily farmer Debbie Vaughan displayed several of her Jersey breed cows at the DuPage County Fair Friday, opening day for the event after a two-year hiatus.
“We love it here,” said Vaughan, 66, of Sheridan. “One of our goals is to promote dairy. It gives young people a chance to learn about milk and why it’s important for them to drink it,” Vaughan said.
The family has 41 cows and moved to Sheridan after selling their DuPage County farm on New York Street near Naperville in the 1960s. She said her family had to sell at the time to flee encroaching development in the area.
“DuPage still has a rich history with farming,” she said. “Look at all these barns here at the fair: agriculture is all around us.”
The dairy barn also had historical maps displayed on the wall showing agricultural land dotting most of the county before development.
The fair near Manchester Road and County Farm Road in Wheaton is celebrating its 180th anniversary. Hundreds of people were strolling down the midway and in and out of the barns just one hour after the gates opened on Friday at 10 am
Jim McGuire, manager of the fair, said he is glad the fair is up and running again. “People really missed the fair the last two years due to COVID,” he said. “We are hoping to get anywhere from 20- to 30,000 people out here this year.”
McGuire believes the fair is part of the county’s heritage and is something that should continue to be celebrated. “While the landscape is different now, we all still eat; and that makes us all play a part with agriculture,” he said. “Agriculture is the largest industry in the state and there still are a lot of agriculture businesses here in DuPage County.”
The fair also included various DuPage County 4-H Club displays and contests in the areas of photography, visual arts, animal sciences, horticulture, natural resources, clothing and foods. The fair also includes a beer garden and several bands are scheduled to play. The full schedule of events can be found at dupagecountyfair.org
Samantha Moesch, 14, brought her two rabbits to be judged in the rabbit barn. “They (the judges) look at their fur, size and face and things like that,” Moesch said, adding that she also has chickens and ducks at her Wheaton home.
“I am so happy the fair is back on again,” Moesch said. “It’s fun to be with my friends and to be a part of the rabbit shows.”
One building at the fair included vendors selling everything from fresh honey to clothing and crafts. Shannon Lesinski, 35, and her son JJ, 12, were selling crystals and stones at the event. “It’s great to see everyone again,” she said. COVID was rough on us but it’s nice to move on.”
Debbie Tomalis, 48, came to the fair with her teenage niece and boyfriend. “They really like looking at the animals,” she said. “We were sad that it wasn’t open during the last two years. I’m just glad everything it is back”
Tickets for adults are $10, seniors ages 62-older $5, children ages 3-12 $5, children ages 2 and younger are free, and active military personnel with identification are free as well.
Joseph Ruzich is a freelance reporter for the Naperville Sun.