If you've never been to a state fair in the summertime, you're missing out on a world of fun that's at once homespun and kaleidoscopically weird. In the mid '90s native Illinoisan David Foster Wallace nailed the surreal Americana of a large state fair (in his case, the Illinois fair in Springfield) in the titular essay of his book A Supposedly Fun Thing I'll Never Do Again. But as Wallace accurately depicted, these productions are huge affairs and that size and scale can easily overwhelm. Maybe you want a similar rural good time without the thousands of people and the sheer acreage of fairgrounds to negotiate; that's where a more compact county fair fits the bill. Case in point: the good old Jersey County Fair (at the north end of Jerseyville, Illinois, on Illinois Route 67; 618-498-5848 or www.jerseycountyfair.com), now in its 144th year. You're not signing on for burlesque shows or wine-and-cheese art openings here -- instead, load up on 4-H shows, carnival rides, live music, wonderfully greasy grub, monster truck challenges and tractor pulls. Are you ready for the country? Good deal; it's waiting for you in Jerseyville. The fair is open daily Saturday, July 6 through Sunday, July 14. General admission is just $2, and kids younger than twelve get in free.
July 6-14, 2013