Since 1953, the Illinois State Fair has been showcasing the "The Prairie State's," agriculture industry with flare. Having taken place in several other cities in the past, the fair has landed back in the state capital of Springfield. The festival attracts over 28,000 visitors who come to enjoy live musical artists, carnival rides, horse races, food, and livestock auctions.
Kid's Korner, Farmer's Little Helpers, and Kid's Tent activities all mean meeting other little friends and learning about agriculture together in a fun, mostly outdoor setting. Ethnic Village brings international cuisines all into an accessible location so your taste buds can travel the globe without a passport. Conservation World brings every nature lover home to explore new activities and enjoy old outdoor favorites.
A massive Illinois State Fair RV campground with electric hookups allows campers to be close to the action. This festival, held in early August, is a camper's dream, with warm temperatures during the day and cool temps at night. This 11-day festival showcases artisans, multi-cultural food, live animals, and big-name musicians. You may very well need all 11 days to see it all.
Multiple ticket types are offered for the Illinois State Fair: a fair admission ticket, a parking ticket, tickets to see musical artists, and (if you are camping at the fairgrounds) a camping pass.
To secure a camping spot at the Illinois State Fair, you must apply for a spot on their online submission form. No e-mail, mail-in, fax, or walk-in reservations are accepted. The deadline to apply for an application is usually in early April. Confirmation letters for those who received a spot are sent out in the first two weeks in May. RV spots are around $50 a night.
If you are unable to make your reservation, you must cancel before the deadline in order to receive a refund. RV sites are assigned on a first-come, first-serve basis and cannot be chosen by the camper. If you arrive before the fair starts, you do not need to pay an admission fee. If you leave the fairgrounds, don't forget to get your hand stamped so you do not need to pay an admission fee upon re-entering. Gate admission and parking passes.
Daily admission rates to the fair itself are typically around $10. In the past, children under 12 have entered for free while seniors receive a discount.
The State of Illinois is made up of farmland, forests, rolling hills, and wetlands, with less to worry about regarding any steep grades or hairpin turns. The Illinois State Fair is just a little over a mile from the I-55's business route. Motorists will be directed to a camping spot upon entry if one has been reserved in advance.
If you are not camping on the fairgrounds, there is a small daily parking fee (historically around $5). A seasonal parking pass can be purchased for around $40. Guests may desire to pay for parking online in advance for a smoother transition through the gate.
Sangamon Mass Transit System (also known as the Springfield Mass Transit system) is the area's bus transit system. Taxis are often available outside the Main Gate of the fair as well. Public transportation outside of Springfield may be trickier.
A good majority of Illinois State Fairground campsites are pull-through. RV's are checked for length upon entering. Awnings are permitted on asphalt campsites. Pets must be on a leash, and owners are responsible for cleaning up after their furry friends. A dump station, showers, and restrooms are available in the campground. Thirty and fifty amp sites are available, though there are fewer fifty amp sites.
Nearby RV campgrounds dot the Springfield area. Independent RV parks and a few county parks offer electric, water, and sewer hookup within a short commuting distance to the fairgrounds. Keep in mind that you will need to purchase a separate parking ticket each day if you are not camping on the fairgrounds.
Wagons, wheelchairs, and electric scooters are available to rent from morning to night, on a day to day basis. Bring your driver’s license in order to make a deposit on all rentals, and plan to return rentals to the same location.
The Sky Glide is an aerial lift providing a fun twist on transportation with spectacular views that operates during designated hours daily.
The fair also operates trams that provide full tours of the fairgrounds from morning to night daily with ADA accessibility. There are 12 loading areas throughout the fairgrounds to hop on and off the trams. Tickets are needed for the tram and are generally around $5.
Layers, layers, layers. During the day, Springfield reaches the 80's. The fairgrounds provides little shade; however, some buildings offer air conditioning to help you cool off. In the evening, temperatures can drop to the low 60's. Bring a raincoat, poncho, or umbrella to fend off spontaneous thunderstorms.
It is often helpful to bring small bills to make some transactions easier, like buying tram tickets or grabbing a quick snack from a vendor. Wear good walking shoes, even if you plan to use the transportation available; the fairgrounds are large, and the parking lot alone is a mile wide.
Bring sunscreen for harsh days in the sun watching horse races, or riding carnival rides. Bring a refillable water container to keep you hydrated while wandering the fairgrounds. As always, don't forget to add any prescriptions to your packing list. If you or a family member are allergic to animals, don't forget allergy medicine even if you don't plan to enter animal tents or events.
Campers will want to check on current cooking and campfire regulations. This information may change based on dryness and local tree conditions at the time of the fair. RV spots are narrowly spaced, so fair staff request that campers are courteous to neighbors regarding smoke, cooking, and campsite activities.
The fairgrounds are on the north side of Springfield, but this is only a short-10 minute drive to Downtown Springfield, home to chain restaurants and local joints serving tacos, Italian, and American cuisine. Just east of the fairgrounds, right off of I-55, are more quick-service dining options.
Food vendors at the fairgrounds peddle rich fair food like apple pie fries and deep-fried cheeseburgers. Food from 15 different nationalities can usually be found in "Ethnic Village," a collection of food and beer booths. The Illinois Wine Experience offers tastings for as little as $1 from some of Illinois' 106 wineries. Guests can also buy wine by the glass, bottle, or case.
During the fair, a local police station is staffed south of the Grandstand. The Lost and Found Children’s Center is also located South of the fair's Grandstand. Emergency announcements will be broadcast on site as needed. In addition to a police presence, there have often been more than a dozen live webcams throughout the fairgrounds, free to view from the Illinois State Fair website.
The month of August is one of its hottest, with temperatures reaching the mid-80's during the day. At night, however, it can cool off to the low 60's. Expect periodic thunderstorms during the day or evening. If inclement weather does occur, guests are encouraged to follow instructions given at that time.
A volunteer-run first-aid station is available at the fairgrounds. The first-aid station is open daily from morning until evening. If you find yourself becoming overheated, pop into one of seven air-conditioned buildings on the property, such as the Artisans building, Kid's Korner, or Hobbies Arts and Crafts, or seek help from the first-aid staff.