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dating back to the 1850s

History of the McLean County Fair

A youth-based fair has been in McLean County prior to the Civil War in the 1860’s.

The McLean County Fair Association officially became a county-based fair in 1932 when the organization was founded by the McLean County Farm Bureau.

In its 90-year history the fair has been in 7 locations throughout the county. The majority of the years it’s been in or around Bloomington-Normal. The fairground currently sits on the west side of Bloomington on 103 acres. The facilities were built in 1997 and accommodates more than 85 events throughout the year besides the fair.

The fair today still focuses of representing youth-based activities as it’s the home to the State’s largest 4-H Show. Over 600 youth (ages 8-18) exhibit over 6000 projects. This includes photography, visual arts, clothing, foods, woodworking, robotics, public speaking, cattle, sheep, goats, dairy, swine, horses, rabbits and poultry and many other areas of youth development. Kids from throughout the county come to showcase the skills they’ve learn over the past year.

The fair hosts other family-oriented options for attendees. Guests can expect to attend grandstand acts, see free on-grounds entertainment, commercial exhibitors, partake in fair food, carnival rides and games.

Fair attendance varies a little from year to year based upon weather, but most years numbers land between 30,000 to 35,000 during its five-day run.

McLean County has a population of over 170,000 with 75% of them residing in Bloomington-Normal. These twin cities are home to two universities, two hospitals, State Farm Insurance Company, Country Financial insurance, Rivian Automotive, Bridgestone/Firestone, Heartland Community College and a large number of organizations and businesses representing and supporting agriculture.