By Eleanor Sevigny
Published June 3, 2021 in The Burg
The Knox County Fair is the “longest continuous running fair in the State of Illinois”. Agricultural competitions began at the location today known as the Knox County Fairgrounds as early as 1839. The Knox County Fair itself was chartered with the State of Illinois Department of Agriculture in 1851. It was originally known as the Knoxville Fair. The Knoxville Fair quickly became the county hub for finding the fastest horses, largest vegetables, and fanciest cattle.
Since the fair’s inception in 1839 its gates have only closed five times (1862, 1941, 1942, 1943, and 2020). This year the fair will be open again after having to close its gates last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The office manager for the Knox County fairboard, Lynn Lydic, took the time to answer questions about the upcoming 2021 fair.
Q: What activities will be available at the fair this year?
Lydic: We will have activities for every age group: livestock shows each day, grandstand shows, carnival rides, Power Wheels demo, free entertainment in the Family Pavilion, Petting zoo, Car show and so much more.
Q: What precautions are being taken regarding the pandemic?
Lydic: Of course, fair goer safety is our main concern. We will do our best to follow all protocols that are in effect at the fair time which means several hand wash stations, available masks, hand sanitizer and plenty of room to move about the grounds.
Q: What will be different about the fair this year?
Lydic: This year will host the DIRTcar Summer Nationals Hell Tour and Roots and Boots Music Event. Fairgoers may see a few upgrades to the grounds that the board has been working on this spring.
Q: What is the most popular thing at the fair?
Lydic: The most popular thing means different things to different people. Some are thrilled for the Tractor Pulls or Figure 8 while others are only interested in the cattle shows, but the Demolition Derby still seems to draw a huge crowd.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the fair?
Lydic: My favorite part of the fair is maybe just prior to the start of the fair....it is seeing the huge line of carnival rides down our long drive into the fairgrounds. To me, it means the fair is on its way!
Q: What is the hardest part of your job?
Lydic: Preparing for the fair is probably the most difficult part of my job. Fair prep work for the 2022 fair will begin on July 11th and continue until next July. It is a yearlong process but all worth it when you see the crowds and smiling faces.
Q: What is the best part of your job?
Lydic: I might say the best part of my job is the day AFTER the fair concludes but really it is all the wonderful people I deal with each year. We see so many groups and vendors who have been a part of the Knox County Fair for many, many years.
Q: What is something you would like to say to the Galesburg Community?
Lydic: It has been a long year with so many unexpected changes but the Knox County Fair is rolling forward with the 170th fair and can't wait to open the gates on July 5th. We hope that our community joins us in this safe but exciting event that has endured so many years with many more to come.