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By Connor Ashlock
County fair season is already well underway throughout the Midwest, but folks in and around Jersey County are preparing for our community’s very own Jersey County Fair, which will be held from July 12-17 this year.
Folks will recall last year’s record-breaking exhibition that saw a sold out grandstand one night and a spaceless parking lot another, with a cattle trailer being brought in on short notice to haul fairgoers from the high school parking lot.
Indeed, the 2021 fair was one for the books, but fair officials are hoping for 2022 to be another great memory-making event for exhibitors, spectators and carnival-goers alike.
“I think the anticipation is always great,” Jersey County Fair Board President Phil Ringhausen said. “There’s a few things we’re working on that we’re excited about, too. We’ve been cleaning up the grounds, tying up loose ends and are doing some new things in the Green Building. Everyone is excited.”
Tinsley’s Amusements, the tried and true amusement company that has remained devoted to the Jersey County Fair for over 30 years, will return with rides sure to bring a smile to children’s faces and thrills for the big kids.
And of course, there’s that fair food that hardly a soul can stand to go without, especially the crowd favorite pronto pup and lemonade shake-up combination– a staple in the Midwestern summer diet. Don’t worry though, the foodstands that we’ve come to look forward to year after year will be there to supply you with your other fair food fixes, too.
As far as entertainment goes, the fair promises great acts that will be sure to please.
“We’ve got pig racing in the carnival midway and an animatronic dinosaur act too,” Ringhausen noted.
The grandstand lineup will offer something for everyone, with the twenty-fifth Jersey County Fair Talent Competition kicking off the festivities following the annual Farmers and Merchants Day Parade along State Street in Jerseyville.
Wednesday, July 13 will see the annual Miss Jersey County Fair Queen Pageant, an event with a heritage over 60 years strong. A full line-up of intelligent and determined senior and little miss contestants will compete to succeed current reigning queens Aubrey McCormick and Olivia Mooney.
Ringhausen shared that the fair’s current royalty will be a tough act to follow.
“They are awesome. You couldn’t ask for a nicer set of girls to work with. They’ve done a lot in the community to support the fair and have come out to do some things at the fairgrounds, too,” Ringhausen said.
Thursday will play host to the rodeo, which continues to grow in local popularity among community members, not only for spectators, but local competitors as well.
Friday and Saturday will offer exciting truck and tractor pulls and Sunday will close out the grandstand events with the ever-popular demolition derby.
Even before the carnival midway and grandstand events open, the fairground will be a flurry of activity as the annual Jersey County Fair Barbecue Cook-Off sets off the chain of fair-week events on Saturday, July 9 beginning at 4 p.m.
Also maintaining its presence at the fair is the popular Family Christian Music Night, where local praise and worship bands will lead those gathered in song and prayer giving thanks for another fair and the blessings of the life we’ve been given. This will take place Sunday, July 10 at 6 p.m. under the pavilion.
While on the topic of thanksgiving, Ringhausen expressed that the fair has a great deal to be thankful for.
“Oh my, we’re thankful we can still have a fair– to put on an exhibition to show people what agriculture is about– we don’t get to do that everyday. And for families and friends to get together to enjoy a nice outing,” Ringhausen said.
Of course, the Jersey County Fair simply couldn’t be a fair without livestock and household arts exhibits.
Monday, July 11 will hold the annual 4-H show at 8 a.m. followed by the annual 4-H auction at 7 p.m., where young people will show just how much they’ve grown in their skills, competencies and maturity levels and receive due support from the community.
Open livestock shows will be occurring throughout fair week and will mostly take place in the morning.
The Green Building continues to grow in popularity year after year, thanks to the dedicated team of superintendents that work behind the scenes to make it all happen. It’s not too late to make your entries. In fact, you have plenty of time yet to go!
Make sure to get your hands on a fair book located at various businesses and offices in Jerseyville to see what all you can enter in the Green Building.
Exhibitors stand the chance to earn a little bit of money from their hard work and commitment, and this year, the fair board is happy to announce that the premium awards have increased.
“A few years back we were not getting funding from the state, so we cut our premium amounts by several dollars. People still came and showed how much they enjoyed the fair and were happy with the opportunity to still display their hard work. In the last two or three years we’ve had great fairs, so we’re bringing our premium awards up to what they were and supporting the people that have supported us,” Ringhausen explained.
The annual Jersey County Fair has been a staple in our community for over a century, with a resilience stronger than the steel of the grandstand and legacy deeper than the roots of prairie grass.
This year, the annual agricultural exhibition will embrace the theme “Blue Jeans and Country Dreams,” so be sure to scoot your boot to the Jersey County Fair and help make 2022 the best year yet!