The Henry County Fair is all about families.
“I’ve been here since I was knee-high,” said Fair Board President Rick Dobbels.
During the first morning of the fair, which runs through Sunday in Cambridge, Dobbels greeted his nephew at the open barrow show.
“Took you a long time to get the pig ready?” he asked.
James Dobbels, 15, is the next generation to show pigs at the fair.
“This is like a lifestyle for me,” he said.
At one of the state’s oldest county fairs, it takes concentration and care to represent the community.
“Everybody loves the Henry County Fair,” James said.
Lemonade shakers represent the challenges facing fairs. Illinois communities are mixed up by state budget woes. This fair lost about two-thirds of its state funding.
“As the state cut us back, we had to cut people back,” Dobbels said.
That means stepping up with new ideas and volunteers to make up the difference. That includes everything from signs to water lines.
“We’re trying to pull together, work as a team, strive that everyone gets along and go for it,” he said.
That volunteer spirit keeps the Henry County Fair thriving during challenging times.
Familiar faces, like the Henry County Pork Producers, are grilling their signature chops. It’s helping to sell the sizzle.
The fair hopes to attract nearly 20,000 visitors. They’ll be coming for cotton candy, competitions and a variety of entertainment.
Back at the barn, there’s a solid second place finish for James.
“I thought the pig did very great,” he said. “I’m hoping maybe tomorrow we can improve.”
Thinking that’s just like the fair’s philosophy.
“We’re going strong now,” Dobbels concluded. “We’re going to keep going.”
With community and volunteer support, keep going for another 150 years in Cambridge.