Who We Are
Founded in 1929, the Lake County Fair Association is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization that manages year-round operations of the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center, a multi-purpose exposition, conference, festival and special event venue. Located on 160 acres in Grayslake, Illinois and featuring the largest Expo Hall between Milwaukee and Chicago, the Lake County Fairgrounds and Event Center hosts thousands of visitors every year. Our events -- which include the annual Lake County Fair, in addition to RV shows, boat shows, car shows, monthly antiques and collectibles shows, fun runs, corporate, social and fundraising events -- all contribute to the economic vitality and growth of Lake County. Each summer, the iconic Lake County Fair celebrates our agricultural traditions in a family-friendly community gathering.
The mission of the Lake County Fair Association shall be the preservation of the past, promotion of the future, and education on the future of agriculture, horticulture, mechanical arts, rural and domestic economy of the Lake County Community.
The Lake County Fair Association will hold and promote a county fair each year to serve as its primary means to achieve its mission. The focus of the county fair is to showcase the talents of the youth in the community by providing means to educate, exhibit and compete in various livestock and other projects in which youth are involved. The Association will also use the county fair to highlight the heritage of the county, and its ties to agriculture, industry, and business.
The Lake County Fair Association shall also host and promote various events throughout the year that will aid in sustaining the Fair Association. It will use its own Board Members, as well as volunteers from community organizations, and individuals to make up the necessary manpower and expertise that is needed to insure the Fair Association fulfills its mission.
Fair Board of Directors
The volunteer Fair Board oversees the planning and execution of the annual Lake County Fair. Fair board members are elected by the LCFA members to serve three year terms. The board meets twice a month throughout the entire year and oversees committees such as livestock, entertainment, site operations, ticketing, parking, competitions, marketing and volunteers.
Email the Fair Board
|Directors||Rich Gelden||Bristol, WI|
|Amanda Knopp||Fox Lake|
|Jim Lallaman||Winthrop Harbor|
|Kathy Miller||Trevor, WI|
Our Vital Role in Lake County
According to the 2014 Economic Impact Analysis of Illinois Agricultural Fairs by the University of Illinois extension, Illinois county fairs, which include Lake County, “generated a state-wide economic impact of $90 million and supported a total of 1,000 jobs.”
Together with the Lake County Illinois Convention and Visitor’s Bureau and with attractions such as Great America, Gurnee Mills and Key Lime Cove, the Lake County Fair promotes tourism and business opportunity in Lake County.
We provide important educational opportunities to Lake County youth through our partnership with 4-H. Mentored by local volunteers, the 5 to 21 year olds in 4-H participate in hands-on projects and programs focused on agriculture, citizenship, health, science, engineering and technology. The Lake County Fairgrounds is a year-round location for young people to experience the 4-H slogan, “Learn by doing.”
As the farm-to-fork movement gains momentum, the Lake County Fair Association provides a destination and support to those who embrace sustainability, who want to know where their food comes from and who seek locally grown products. Just some of the initiatives underway at the Lake County Fairgrounds include beehives and a beekeeper in residence, a new farmyard environment crafted out of reclaimed wood and a craft beer festival. Discussions are well underway with a local brewer about growing hops on the fairgrounds and brewing a Lake County lager.
Lake County Fair Association is proud to partner with 4-H, an educational youth development organization which uses the University of Illinois’ research-based curriculum to develop citizenship, leadership, responsibility and life skills through experiential learning programs and a positive youth development approach. The 4-H name represents four personal development areas of focus for the organization: head, heart, hands, and health. Traditionally thought of as an agriculturally-focused organization, 4-H today focuses on citizenship, healthy living, science, engineering, and technology programs. The organization has over 6.5 million members in the United States, from ages 5 to 21, in approximately 90,000 clubs. The 4-H slogan is "Learn by doing". Mentored by dedicated volunteer instructors from the community, 4-H members gain valuable experience through hands-on projects that take place at the Lake County Fairgrounds during the Fair and throughout the year. Recent projects include:
Beef Weigh In This project area will assist members in learning more about the beef industry. Members enrolled in this project are able to show their animals in the annual Lake County Fair. Our members have to follow the code of conduct rules and regulations, Illinois Department of Agriculture Exhibition livestock requirements, QAEC (Quality Assurance Ethics Certification training), and deadlines assigned to be in this project. The members meet in February in the Cattle barn area to do their weigh in.
Livestock Weigh In This project area will assist members in learning more about the swine, lamb, goat, sheep, or poultry industries. Members enrolled in these project areas, are able to show their animals at the annual Lake County Fair. Our members have to follow the code of conduct rules and regulations, Illinois Department of Agriculture Exhibition livestock requirements, QAEC (Quality Assurance Ethics Certification training), and deadlines assigned to be in this project. Members meet in February in the Cattle barn area to do their weigh in.
4-H Pavilion at the Lake County Fair Each year 4-H members are encouraged to participate in a curated competition in conjunction with the annual Lake County Fair. The areas of focus include: crafts, textiles, ceramics, culinary, painting, photography, flower and garden. Ribbons are awarded to winners in each category.
International Festival Each year, the Lake County 4-H clubs choose various countries to learn about and create in-depth displays which explore the culture, government, agriculture, housing, economy, industries, clothing, music and crafts. The public is invited to come out and experience these magnificent displays.
Public Presentation Judging Event Members learn to interpret verbal and nonverbal information, develop effective public speaking skills, enhance written and spoken communication, or design a presentation. We have up to 30 members signed up to be conferenced judged in March. We use the Fairgrounds classroom, boardroom, and kitchen area for this event. Parents, family and friends are the member’s audience. They are awarded ribbons for their participation.
Rocketry Launch Judging Members learn the basics of model rocketry including how a model rocket works and how to operate the equipment for a safe rocket launch.
Small Pet Show Judging Members are able to share their knowledge of different species and how they keep them healthy. Species include lizards, snakes, cats, turtles, hamsters, gerbils, rodents and crustaceans.
Dog Training Classes and Judging 4-H offers a 10 week training session, for all 4-H members. The purpose of these training sessions is to get the handler comfortable with collars and general safety tips when working with dogs. The training also introduces members to the basic commands of heel, sit and turns they will be doing for the judging show.
The rich history of the Lake County Fair dates back over 150 years. Its traditions and community involvement have made memories and great moments for visitors, year after year, generation after generation. The first Lake County Fair was hosted by the Lake County Agricultural Society in 1851 in Antioch. In the years since, the Fair has adopted a variety of names and has been hosted in townships throughout Lake County, including Waukegan, Gurnee, Libertyville and Wauconda. In 1954 the Fair settled in Grayslake at the corner of Highways 45 & 120. In 2008, the Lake County Fair Association (LCFA) purchased the new Fairgrounds property in Grayslake and relocated to the corner of Peterson & Midlothian Roads.
In 1928 the official “Lake County Fair Association” was formed and in the following years various livestock shows and exhibits were added to the Fair. The Fair’s original charter, drafted in 1938, declared it an educational organization and in 1940, it was revised and branded it as a “county fair”. It then and still remains an agricultural fair, but over time many new exhibits, attractions and events have been added to educate and enrich the Lake County community. Exhibits that feature livestock, arts & crafts, industrial & agriculture innovation, homemaking, and culinary arts, educate and entertain Fair visitors year after year. In addition, the Miss Lake County Fair Queen pageant, truck & tractor pulls, rodeos, live entertainment, great food, and a fun-filled carnival make for a great family experience. Come make new history and memories with us as our history extends into the 21st Century!