Fair entrants are encouraged to be imaginative—feel free to create a Fair Impression in one or several categories.
Though specifically forbidden to offer homemade foodstuffs for public sale at the Lake County Health Department’s strict regulations, many other types of demonstrations are available, including: the whole historic spectrum of fabric arts (tailoring, knitting, tatting, sale of clothing, quilting, etc.), woodworking, millinery, even sale of historic clothing and accouterments (no military items, please)—the list is limited only by the imagination, research and resourcefulness of the living historian involved. No “blanket trading” will be allowed within the Fairgrounds, but is always welcome in Sutlers’ Row.
Flowers, Fruits & Vegetables
This category is reserved for period educational exhibits of prize flowers, fruits (with recipes, perhaps?) and heirloom vegetables and herbs. Please be prepared to interpret these items for the public. Historic breeds only, please, and be prepared with documentation—Society members love their heirloom plants are always eager to learn something new about something really old! An award for “Best Blooms” is always given.
Any Civil War-era handcraft or traditional craft or trade may be portrayed and product offered for sale during the Fair.
Hawkers & Walkers
Itinerant vendors are encouraged: peddlers, herb-sellers, fruit and vegetables sellers, sketch artists, silhouette cutters and other period-correct itinerant commercial impressions. This includes itinerant service providers such as painters, falsegrainers, knife and scissor grinders and tinkers, etc. By definition, these exhibitors would not have an exhibit tent or fixed place of business, but are welcome to coordinate with the Society tent for breaks and other needs.
Games & Public Activities
Games and public activities are an important part of our shared public history and are encouraged as a traditional part of agricultural fairs. They promote a spirit of fun and competition and add so much to the spectacle and energy of an event.
Team tug-o-wars, games of graces, a children’s toy station and other public activities can be organized as a historical impression. This would include other staged competitions such as farm skills contests, skillet tosses and similar games.
Midway games are welcome as long as they comply with the clearly-stated boundaries of the Illinois statues. Persons wishing to provide a historic game are as a public demonstration are encouraged to contact the Fair committee regarding the finer points of Illinois gaming laws. Activities defined as gambling will not be allowed; nor any game of chance played for money or other compensation. Games of skill which compensate the actual participants, however, are welcome and are specifically exempt from regulation.
Groups and individuals are sought for musical performances, period dramatic readings, stage sketches, patriotic tableau or any other suitable performance. This includes recitation of famous public speeches, puppet shows, juggling, period illusionists, fire-eaters, slack rope walkers, contortionists, trick animals or other entertainment. This includes itinerant preachers, politicians, patent medicine drummers and other similar traveling performers.
Anticipating possible logistical problems, we are encouraging the presentation of small lifestock (chickens, rabbits, ducks, sheep, goats, turkeys, etc.) as though they were to be judged at a period Fair. Period-correct cages or other enclosures are required, as well as historically correct food dishes, etc. Please be prepared to have an attendant with the animals at all times. Those wishing to exhibit larger livestock may be provided for on a case-by-case basis, so don’t be shy about asking. “Best in Breed” awards may be given in this category.
Wider World Exhibitor
This category is reserved for historic impressions of an educational nature which portray the world beyond Lake County. Could you portray a representative from a railroad, a Soldiers’ Aid Society, a Great Lakes steam packet line, a Temperance League, a local livery stable, or a northern Illinois stagecoach line? What about a teacher from a ladies finishing school, boarding school or teacher’s college? A land speculator selling lots in a western “utopia”? Use your imagination but keep your impression plausible, factual and relevant to the 1860s’ residents of Lake County. Also, be prepared to share your documentation and research with the curious.
No modern packaging is allowed. Tie-on price tags are encouraged whenever possible, sticker tags will be allowed on china and glassware for practical reasons. The aesthetic—the Fair’s look and feel—is slightly rustic but festive. Our forebears would have wanted to put the “best foot forward.” Tables should be nicely covered or painted, and constructed booths are encouraged for appropriate impressions. Patriotic 1860’s-compliant bunting and decorations are also encouraged. All signage, broadsides and other ephemera should be representative of the time period.