SPRINGFIELD, IL – It’s time to start counting down to the 2022 Illinois State Fair!
The 11-day event kicks off at the State Fairgrounds in Springfield on August 11th and runs through August 21st.
The Summer extravaganza features concerts, races, rides, and, of course, a variety of fun Fair food!
WGN News Now spoke with State Fair Manager, Rebecca Clark to find out what tasty treats visitors can expect this year, including several new items for the health-conscious or deep-fried connoisseur.
“We have over a hundred food vendors that are planning on attending the Illinois State Fair. And if you’re a food vendor out there, you’ve got a truck or something that you want to participate in our Fair family. We’re still accepting applications. bring your goodies and we will have them on display at the Illinois State Fair.” said Clark.
She added the key is not to place similar foods near each other, but to spread them out across the 366-acre fairground campus. In fact, every time a new vendor is added, her team uses a giant map to move things around.
“Food is one of the biggest items on display here,” said Clark. “You know it’s important that we have something for everybody from entertainment to food. So, this year for example we have a new food vendor that is coming out that is going to offer 50 different varieties of dairy-free ice cream. You know in the hot August sun, ice cream is a very popular choice at the state fair, so it’s important that you have those alternatives.”
Clark said her team also makes an effort to provide salads and fresh fruit for visitors who prefer healthier options.
When asked what are the most popular foods at the Fair, Clark listed Vose’s corn dogs, pork chops on a stick, ribeye sandwiches, and mini donuts. She said her personal favorite dish however, is an apple cider slushie with ice cream, and compared the taste to that of apple pie a la mode in a cup.
The Fair recently kicked off a social media campaign called #Munchie Monday which spotlights new vendors and foods that join the Fair’s food family.
They’re also launching “Small Plates, Big tastes,” which is a new tapas-style offering in the Village of Cultures that lets visitors sample different cuisines from around the world. “You can taste a little bit of Jamaican, Brazilian, Lithuanian, Greek.,” said Clark. “It’s not all corn dogs here at the Illinois State Fair. We really enjoy offering samplings for new palates around here.”
Visitors will also find a new Happy Hour promotion called “Eating Frenzy” which runs from 2 p.m. to 5 p.m. every day. “It’s a great way for folks to take advantage of discounted prices at the fair,” said Clark. “Maybe you want to grab a late lunch or an early supper before a big concert. It’s a great money-saving opportunity and a great way to support our food vendors as well.”
Food vendors can also display three creative dishes they’re offering to the public in the “Golden Abe’s Food Contest” where they’ll be judged on presentation, taste, and creativity with cash prizes for the winners.
But food isn’t the only big draw for fairgoers, many will be getting their groove on at Grandstand too.
Illinois Lottery Grandstand Stage Lineup:
- Friday August 12 – Grammy-Award winning Country-Pop artist Sam Hunt kicks things off.
- Saturday August 13 – Grammy-nominated and award-winning singer Demi Lovato takes the stage
- Sunday August 14 – The best-selling duo in Country music history, Brooks & Dunn will take the stage
- Wednesday August 17 – The R&B girl group TLC and two-time Grammy winner for Best Reggae album, Shaggy, will take fairgoers back to the 90s and 2000s
- Thursday August 18 – Country artist Jon Pardi will headline a night of country
- Saturday August 20 – The Illinois-based rock band Disturbed will take the stage for a night of what’s being described as monstrous metal jams
- Sunday August 21 – Sammy Hagar and The Circle will rock out four decades of their biggest hits on the Fair’s final night
The Fairgrounds will open from 7 a.m. to Midnight for the duration of the Fair.
- Children (0-12) FREE
- Adults (13-59) $10 (Fridays & Saturdays)
- Adults (13-59) $5 (All other days)
- Seniors (60+) $3
- Daily $5
- Seasonal $40 (Gate 6, Lot 18 infield)
FREE Admission Days:
- Sunday, August 14 (Veterans & immediate families free with proper ID)
- Monday, August 15 (Seniors & Scouts (with proper ID or uniform)
- Friday, August 19 (First Responders with proper ID)