DuPage County Fair overcomes weather issues, ready to open on time
DuPage County Fair
Where: DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Road, Wheaton
When: July 25 to 29
Hours: 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily
How much: $8; $3 for children 3 to 12 years old; children 2 years old younger get in free; season pass is $25.
Updated: July 31, 2012 2:19PM
Officials and a slew of volunteers are ready for this year’s 58th annual DuPage County Fair which is set to open in Wheaton on Wednesday. But getting ready for this year’s event required an extraordinary effort to overcome the havoc Mother Nature brought to the area nearly a month ago.
“The storms hit us on July 1, and except for taking off the Fourth of July to be with my family, I’ve been here every single day,” said Jim McGuire, president of the Fair Association. “We’re fortunate that during the month of July, we don’t book any other thing here. We lost all of our power, and it took us about two weeks before we were even able to begin our regular set up.”
Four primary electrical poles were blown over and two transformers were rendered useless, McGuire said, which resulted in having to completely reset the power system. All primary leads to the main building came off, and all underground power was likewise cut off. In addition, overhead garage doors had to be repaired and a total of six windows in the primary exhibition building were blown out.
“There were also portions of trees knocked down that had to be cleaned up, and it took a lot of energy to get to the point where we could start our usual set up,” McGuire said. “All of the electrical stuff had to be done by outside electrical contractors. In terms of our group, we just had our regular crew and we added four part-time people. All of our board members are volunteers, and they along with other volunteers really stepped up.”
Fair Manager Ellen Sietmann said that while there was a setback, once the electrical problems were resolved, everything else fell into place.
“Basically there was more clean-up than we normally have to deal with, but we’re still going to open on schedule,” Sietmann said. “We didn’t need to go out and hire a ton of other people.”
Sietmann said she now appreciates the regular amenities all of us take for granted.
“Thank God for generators, because we had nothing here in the offices for a couple of days,” she said. “As the sun would move, I’d be going from office to office trying to follow the light. You’re not used to putting your arm on a piece of paper and having it stick to you.
“In terms of the effort made by our volunteers, I can’t say enough about them,” Sietmann added. “Only four of us here are paid, and these people really stepped up to the plate. We were getting a lot of comments from people who told us they didn’t think there would even be a fair this year.”
McGuire said that no cost figures are finalized as yet for the electrical work, but he estimates the final bill will exceed $100,000.
The fair, as usual, will feature a variety of musical entertainment, a carnival, contests, food booths and more. For information, visit www.napersun.com.