Fair Season 2022 Wrap-up

Eickman's and Area Mechanical with State Fair Ham and sign
Eickman’s and Area Mechanical with State Fair Ham and sign.

The 2022 Fair season has been a lot of fun and, as always, a lot of work. We always block out some time in August to make sure that there is somewhere for the local 4H’ers to take their livestock after the county fairs. We took on some additional fairs this year as well. We started off with hosting the Ogle County Carcass Show which was fun. This is where the 4H meat projects are graded on quality as they hang in our cooler. Then came beef, hogs and lambs from the Stephenson and Lake County Fairs and we also delivered things like Ribeyes and hamburger patties to the Beef Corral at the fair. The next weekend found us bidding at the Ogle County Fair. We got animals from that fair, as well as the McHenry and Dekalb County fairs. The week after that found us at the Boone County Fair where we purchased some cattle and lambs. We processed about 90 animals from that fair. After Boone comes the Winnebago County Fair. There we brought food to multiple food stands at the fair. They all do a great job: Pecatonica Lion’s Club with the famous pork chop sandwiches, hot dogs, and brats. The Taco Stand is always a favorite as well, The Stephenson/Winnebago County Beef Association, and newcomer Whiskey Hotel Barbecue. Everything was amazing. We ran an impromptu Facebook brat giveaway to people that posted themselves with some of the fair food from those stands. The livestock auction at Winnebago is always extra fun for us, because some of our meat gets auctioned off at the end as well. Our ham won at State Fair* (more on that below) so the match to that ham was auctioned at Winnebago. Also some of our steaks, etc., were auctioned off as well, all proceeds going to the Winnebago County 4H Show Board. We ended up with 115 animals from the Winnebago County Fair. We hope all of the 4H’ers and their families are proud of what they have done. You can see the exhaustion and pride in the kids as you walk the barns in the evenings, months of hard work leading them to this point. Many of the youngest kids jump at the chance to show off their animals when we ask.

*IL State Fair: We were fortunate for our ham to once again be judged and named Grand Champion at the Illinois State Fair. On Tuesday, August 16th Tom Eickman, myself (Katie), and our son Ashton went down to Springfield to attend the Governor’s Sale of Champions where the ham was auctioned off in the commodities portion. Our local business, Area Mechanical (who fixes our coolers and freezers) purchased the ham and the proceeds go to the U of I Sleeter Bull Scholarship fund. We had a great time down there as well.

Fair season is exhausting, and the work isn’t done yet. We are still cutting, curing, smoking, and making sausage, trying to wrap up (literally!) the season’s animals. It won’t be long before our focus shifts to the holiday season with hams and turkeys taking over our coolers and freezers. But for now, we are enjoying the last bits of summer. Feel free to let us know if any of you went to any county fairs and what the best parts were!