Hot and Bothered at the Illinois State Fair

| August 20, 2010 | Comments (6)

Illinois_State_FairBack in 2007, we capped off a busy weekend visit to Springfield with an outing to the Illinois State Fair. We viewed the famed butter cow and calf, nicely chilling in a rotating display case. How I longed to join them on the hot, hot day. According to the record books, it was the hottest day of the year- the kind of day on which small children somehow sense a magnetic pull and feel obligated to stick their moist, sticky skin as close to their mothers as possible.

Oh the joy of roaming from one fly infested barn to another. Oh look- a sleeping pig! A hot, tired goat! A sweaty draft horse.

My dear husband tracked down a booth selling cool, fresh, delicious local watermelon. Other than that, fair food = fried food. But who wants to eat hot greasy food when on a sunny 90 degree day? Granted, the food comes on a stick, but still.

Walking around the fair it became obvious to us city slickers that opting not to purchases said food on a stick may not be against the law, but it is certainly against the spirit of of the Fair. We saw pizza on a stick, shrimp on  stick, frozen cheesecake on a stick, pickles on a stick and eventually made our seemingly obligatory purchase–hard boiled eggs on a stick.

In addition to food on a stick and the hot, hot weather, the boys still talk about two other things from the Illinois State Fair. They still reminisce about the giant slide on the midway and the piglet exhibit. The piglet exhibit was, at least for this sanitized suburban family that is far removed from the source of their bacon, the stuff of nightmares.

The piglet exhibit was held in a specially outfitted, air-conditioned trailer that contained several mama pigs. And not just any mama pigs, but mamas that were giving birth. Right before our eyes.

The sows were held in cages that gave them no choice of position or freedom of movement. I mean, I wasn’t expecting sows on birthing balls, but they were truly trapped. We also weren’t prepared for the dramatic scene.

To be clear, we did not actual witness the miracle of birth, but were told one sow was about an 30 minutes away from her next delivery. We didn’t stick around for it. The piglets were tiny, pink and adorable. Though stuck in the cages with their mother, their small size allowed them to move around, suckle, and get to know their siblings.

“Look, that one has a leash!” One of my boys cried as he point to a little cutie. Huh? That was no leash, it was part of the umbilicus.

I have no problem with my kids experiencing the the more delicate aspects of the circle of life, but the setting was so unnatural, it was like an animal freak show.

That said, the memories of the giant slide trump all as evidenced by the fact that my boys eagerly await our next visit to the Illinois State Fair. The 2010 event runs through Sunday, August 22. I’m curious to hear about your experiences if you go (or have gone).

Category: Illinois, Travel

About Kim Moldofsky: Kim Moldofsky is a Chicago-area Social Media Mom of tween boys. Blogging since 2005 at Hormone-colored Days and around the web, she has a reputation as an insightful blogger who supports the momblogger community. She connects brands and bloggers for conversations, events and product reviews at MomImpact. View author profile.

Comments (6)

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  1. Emily says:

    Ha! That’s a crazy story. My husband definitely talks about taking the kids to the state fair when they are older. My husband likes the “Fried WHAT?” booth, with its fried oreos, Twinkies and Key lime pie. My husband was a state employee for a while and traveled all around Illinois. But as for me, when we do go the State Fair, it will be my first time going south of I-80. I pretty much stick to Chicago.

    • The state gets nicely hilly if you go far enough west or south, but from Chicago to Springfield or Champaign? Kind of a snooze.

      May I suggest a trip to Rockford to the children’s/science museum if you are interested in dipping your toes outside of the big city?

  2. Lisa says:

    Since we are on the WI/IL border I grew up going to the Wi STate Fair but haven’t gone in years so I don’t recall all the weird fried things and things on sticks. The big thing at the WI State Fair were cream puffs. You would stand in line for possibly 2 hours just to get one!
    While not at a fair, we did recently experience fired oreos and they were amazing but the next day I had a horrible stomach bug which is now forever tied (whether really to blame or not) with fried oreos!

  3. My issues are with the cost of everything. I hate having to pay per ride (the wrist bands aren’t always available) and listening to my kids ask to do everything. Doing EVERYthing at the fair would cost hundreds of dollars! That said, I LOVE THE FAIR. Never been to the State fair. I always go to smaller county fairs. In fact, I used to work in the pony rides back in my high school days. Ahh… sleeping in a barn at a county fair… Yet another thing I would never let MY kids do!!


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