Serving up a cool time at the Kane County Fair
By Emily McFarlan email@example.com July 18, 2012 9:22PM
Christina Lamore,8, (from left) joins family friend Lisa Horm, 13, and Christina's sisters Octavia Lamore, 12, Loretta Lamore, 7, and Audrina Lamore, 16, all of Elburn for some cold ice cream at the Colonial Cafe ice cream stand Wednesday during opening day of the Kane County Fair in St. Charles. July 18, 2012 | Michael Smart~Sun-Times Media
8:30 a.m.: Dairy and swine judging, horse and pony judging
9 a.m.: Rabbit judging
Noon: Midway opens
1 to 8 p.m.: 50/50 raffle sponsored by the Elks Lodge 737 (Trade Building No. 1)
2 p.m.: Beer garden opens
4 p.m.: Goat judging
6 p.m.: Miller’s Hometown Band, rock (Soundstage)
7 p.m.: International Truck Pull Championship, $10 (Grandstand)
8 p.m.: Hillbilly Rockstarz, Chicago’s No. 1 country band (Soundstage)
11 p.m.: Close
Updated: August 20, 2012 11:42AM
ST. CHARLES — There was the boy with his chin propped on the window sill, eyes and mouth wide as he watched the ice cream curl into a ball in the scoop, then pressed into a cone. There was the woman passing out cones to a gaggle of grandchildren and the girl in the pink plaid shirt and jeans who disappeared with hers into the 4-H shelters across the way.
And then there was the trio of girls, all members of the Elgin-based Challengers 4-H Club, trying to keep up with the steady stream of fairgoers Wednesday at the Colonial ice cream booth, one of the Kane County Fair’s most popular.
“The ice cream is so hard,” said Lisa Holmberg, 14, of Elgin.
“It’s so good, though — nice and cold and refreshing on a hot day.”
All this, before the midway opened at 3 p.m. Wednesday, before the rides started spinning along their tracks and the smells of corn dogs and funnel cakes started wafting from food vendors. Just as the representatives of the Kane County Board, city of St. Charles, area chambers of commerce and Kane County Sheriff Patrick Perez gathered to watch Kane County Fair President Larry Breon cut the ribbon to open the 144th annual Kane County Fair and Festival.
“I’d like to thank everybody for coming out today. … And, of course, the weather cooperated today. It’s not 110 (degrees),” Breon said.
The fair runs through Sunday at the Kane County Fairgrounds on Randall Road, between Routes 64 and 38. The midway will open at noon each day and close at 11 p.m. Thursday, midnight Friday and Saturday, and 10 p.m. Sunday.
Audrina Lamore, 16, and her four sisters, all of Elburn, will be there morning and night, she said.
Taking a break
The Lamores had brought their rabbits late Tuesday afternoon to the fairgrounds, Audrina said. They’ve been showing rabbits the past six years, winning grand champion a few times, she said, something her family started “by accident.”
“We had two pet rabbits, and we didn’t know what they were doing at the time. That’s how we ended up with baby bunnies,” she said.
They’ll be back again at 8 a.m. Thursday to show their rabbits — 11 in all, according to Audrina.
That’s the “best part of 4-H,” she said; “not just the bunnies, but the projects we’ve got at the other building.” That, and eating ice cream at the fair, according to family friend Lisa Hurm, 13. One day, they each ate about five ice cream cones, she remembered.
The Dairy Dippers
That’s what Audrina and Lisa were enjoying in the quiet hours before the midway opened Wednesday, five across a white bench outside the Colonial booth with the Lamores’ sisters Octavia, 12; Christina, 8; and Loretta, 7.
Kane County Fair Board Member Ray Russell can’t remember how long the Colonial ice cream booth has been at the fair. It was when “there used to be a lot of dairies around here,” when an ice cream cone cost 25 cents, Russell said.
The Dairy Dippers, wives of area dairy farmers, ran the booth before the 4-H took it over about five years ago, he said. Members of 14 area 4-H clubs now take two- to three-hour shifts serving the ice cream during the fair, and the money goes to the foundation for grants and scholarships.
Russell, who lives in Elgin, used to work there “a lot.”
“It used to be the most popular thing at the fair,” he said. “I think it still is.”
The booth goes through 8,000 to 10,000 cones during the Kane County Fair, 4-H Foundation member Anne Carson said. And it doesn’t get ice cream deliveries from Colonial on weekends, Carson said, so it’s not unusual to get down to one or two flavors Sunday night.
Mint chip is the hands-down favorite, according to the 4-H Foundation member. It sells twice as much as any other ice cream flavor, including vanilla, chocolate, strawberry, chocolate chip and rainbow sherbet, she said.
“It’s a good volunteer experience,” she said
It’s also a lot of fun if “you get the right people working here,” Russell said. The fair board member remembers customers remembering which of the booth’s windows to go to, which of the volunteers gave the biggest scoops.
“We’ve been doing this for years. It’s a lot of fun, and it raises money for our club,” Lisa said. “And we get free ice cream at the end.”
New fair favorites
While the ice cream at the Colonial ice cream booth — the same at Colonial Cafes across the Fox Valley — is a longtime fair favorite, this year’s Kane County Fair has some new creations, too.
That includes deep-fried Kool-Aid at the funnel cake stand run by Paulette’s Food Service of Pinckneyville across the way from the exhibition building. Another funnel cake stand near Gate 2 and the entrance to Fantasy Amusements offers red velvet funnel cake.
“It’s just sweet. That’s about all I can tell you. And the cream cheese icing on top — that’s to die for,” said Alan McKinney of Texas-based McKinney’s Food Service.
Another booth near the exhibition building advertises turkey legs.
“Taste of Chicago didn’t have turkey legs, but we have turkey legs,” Kane County Fair spokeswoman Pat Szpekowski said.