2022 Champaign County Fair brought animals, fun to the fairgrounds

The 2022 Champaign County Fair brought roughly 37,000 people to the fairground gates in what fair officials described as a “smooth” week.

Attendance is bouncing back to follow the pace of pre-pandemic years, said Champaign County Fairboard president Wayne Cook. He’s been fairboard president for the past few years, with this year being her first “smooth” year since his start.

The fair spanned from Aug. 5-12. This year had several highlights, and a “standout” fair feature brought a crowd to the grandstand on Aug. 8: a seven-event rodeo. The rodeo was free that evening for those who paid general admission, and it rendered a “good response,” Cook said.

The fair board decided to host the rodeo on Monday during fair week this year — a night that is typically “slower.” The rodeo may be returning to the fair next year due to its success, Cook said.

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Sunday night’s events during fair week pack the grandstands every year, too, as people flock to the fairgrounds for county-based events: calf and pig scrambles, appointments of 4-H and Future Farmers of America (FFA) boys and girls of the year, and the annual fair queen’s contest.

The 2022 Champaign County Fair Queen is Dani Schipfer; joining her as attendants are Maria McIntosh and Kaylynn Wilhelm.

“We try to keep our fair with more of the agricultural, 4-H side of things,” he said. “And that’s why we like Sunday night. That’s all about the people from this county.”

4-H and FFA members also love the fair for agricultural education and working with animals.

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Payton Massie, 11, said she’s learned a lot about animals during her involvement with 4-H: she’s a Burg’s Barnyard member who shows a steer and a feeder, animals several times larger than her.

“You would think that they’re hard to control, hard to show,” she said. “But they look more intimidating than they are.”

But the fair is also packed with events and entertainment for when animals are not in the show ring. Rides are free with fair admission, Cook said, and have been for years. This draws fairgoers from other counties to the Champaign County Fair.

Fair week also brought truck and tractor pulls to the grandstands, as well as wrestling to the free stage with Big Time Wrestling coming to the Champaign County Fairgrounds.

Next year’s fair is slated for Aug. 4-11, according to the Champaign County Fair’s website.

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