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Planning A Trip To The 2022 Illinois State Fair

Illinois State Fair

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The Illinois State Fair is 10 days of music, food, and excitement that brings together all the best things Illinois has to offer. Whether you’re here for agricultural reasons, deep love of fried food, or some fantastic live music, there’s definitely something for you at the Illinois State Fair.

What dates are the Illinois State Fair 2022?

The Illinois State Fair 2022 runs from August 11th to August 21st. The fairgrounds are open from 7:00 am to midnight every day.

2022 Illinois State Fair admissions prices

Admission for the 2022 Illinois State Fair varies, depending on who the ticket is for and what day you’re going could definitely make the best use of the free and reduced-price ticket days to get the most out of your fair-going days.

Adults 13-59 $10 on Fridays and Saturdays, $5 every other day
Seniors 60+ $3 all days of the fair
Children 0-12 are free all days

Free admission days

The 2022 Illinois State Fair free admission days are still here to help take the strain off your wallet:

Sunday, August 14th – Veterans and their immediate families (with proper ID)
Monday, August 15th – Seniors and scouts with proper ID (or if you’re wearing your scout uniform)
Friday, August 19th – First responders (with proper ID)

You should also take advantage of the reduced-cost deals the fair provides.

An admission booklet is $45 and provides 11 admissions, good for any day of the fair.

The senior admission booklet is $30 and provides 11 senior admissions, also good for any day of the fair.

Illinois State Fair at night

Travel to the Illinois State Fair

For those who are traveling to the fair via RV or camper, there are camping grounds in the fairgrounds. This is a great option for vendors or people competing in the many agriculture shows and events. You can find more about camping at the Illinois State Fair here.

If you’re driving to the fair, you should make note of the way traffic runs differently during fair season. Starting at 5:00 am on the 11th, traffic will be one way, counterclockwise around the fairgrounds. The westbound and eastbound turn lanes at Veteran’s Parkway and Eighth street will also be closed. Finally, the northbound ramps off Sangamon Avenue to I-55 are closed, instead routing drivers to the Sherman exit.

Illinois State Fair parking

If you’re driving to the 2022 Illinois State Fair, there is plenty of parking for you in and around the fairgrounds. One of the most reliable sights during the fair is the dozens of families and businesses that take advantage of their lots to offer as parking to fairgoers. Parking closest to one of the main gates might run $10-12 for all day spots. Further from those main gates, the price might be down to around $5.

Within the fairgrounds, you can park at gate 6, lot 18. Parking in this area is $5/day, or $40 for a season parking pass.

Other ways to get to the fair

There are usually taxis around the two gates on Sangamon Avenue, waiting to take people home from the fair. Additionally, Springfield has both an Uber and Lyft presence.

The Springfield Mass Transit Department, or SMTD, runs buses every half hour to the fairgrounds, Monday through Saturday. Weekend shuttle services run in the evenings every 30 minutes as well. You can plan your trip on their site here.

State Fair Twilight Parade

A fixture of the fairgoing season, the Twilight Parade begins at 5:30 on August 11th, in Lincoln Park. It will move through the park and down Sangamon Avenue, passing through the Main Gate of the fairgrounds. You can expect high school marching bands, floats, candy, and other parade mainstays – it’s a huge hit, especially with children.

It is worth noting that the parade route will be closed to non-parade traffic at 4:00 pm, until around 9:00 pm. If you’re approaching the route, there will be detour signs up to help you navigate around it.

Rides At The Illinois State Fair

If you’re an adventurous type, you can get your thrills at the Carnival Midway, hosting over two dozen rides. For those who like things a bit tamer – or for those with small kids – Adventure Village has a variety of less intense rides.

Illinois State Fair swings Springfield IL

You can hop on any ride for a varying number of tickets, and tickets are on sale for $1.50 each. If you live for the excitement of a carnival ride, however, your best bet is buying a mega pass or a jumbo pass. These bracelets cost a single, flat fee and provide unlimited rides in Adventure Village and the Carnival Midway.

The State Fair website seems to indicate you can buy these passes online, but the site doesn’t seem to work. You can purchase them in person at the Emmerson building on the fairgrounds on the following dates and times:

  • August 1 – August 5:      8:30 am – 4:00 pm
  • Saturday August 6:        9:00 am – 1:00 pm
  • August 8 – August 14:    8:30 am – 7:00 pm
  • August 15 – August 20:  8:30 am – 6:00 pm
  • Sunday August 21:         8:30 am – 12:00 pm

The Emmerson office can be reached at 217-782-0775.

The Mega Pass is $90 and is good for unlimited rides in Adventure Village and the Carnival Midway, all 10 days of the fair. It does not include admission to the fair, or the Giant Slide, Tram, or Sky Glide.

The Jumbo Pass is $100 and does include the Giant Slide, but not the tram or Sky Glide. It is also good for all 10 days of the fair, but also excludes admission.

It’s worth noting that the State Fair does sales for these Mega and Jumbo passes, usually around the holiday season. This past December and January, Mega passes were on sale for $60, so if you have a ride junky to buy presents for, keep an eye out this upcoming holiday season!

Finally, there is the Bargain Bracelet, purchasable for $30, which gives unlimited rides during a single day. You can purchase Bargain Bracelets in Adventure Village or the Midway, but not in the Emmerson building. Please note that Bargain Bracelets are only good for the day of purchase, and also exclude the Giant Slide and Sky Glide.

Other carnival ride discounts

On the night of the Twilight Parade – Thursday, August 11th – all rides are $2.

On Sunday, August 14th, Veterans can purchase a Bargain Bracelet for $25 with ID.

Live entertainment at the Illinois State Fair

There is constantly something to do or see at the Illinois State Fair, especially live music. From auto racing to animal events, cultural music at the Village of Cultures, and the huge acts on the Grandstand, you’re sure to find something to love.

Reba McEntire performing at the 2019 Illinois State Fair

Free entertainment

When you enter through the main gate of the fairgrounds, just past Adventure Village you’ll find the Village of Cultures. The stage is constantly alive with the sounds and styles of world cultures. You can sit and watch while enjoying a wide variety of delicious foods and two international beer booths.

Throughout the fairgrounds, you’ll find the Apex, Lincoln, Main Street, and Grand Central stages, each with a variety of acts, and all completely free. There’s also the Bud Light and Miller Light tents to help you wind down an evening of fun.

In the Expo building, you’ll find another stage of entertainment, along with a wide range of exhibits and vendors.

At the Hobbies, Arts, and Crafts stage – east of Lincoln stage on Central avenue – there are constant recipe demonstrations, contests, and other presentations.

2022 Illinois State Fair Grandstand Lineup

The Illinois State Fair Grandstand is a staple of the yearly fairgoing experience, hosting some of the biggest and brightest stars in the music business. The Illinois State Fair concert 2022 lineup is impressive, as always:

  • August 12th, 8:00 pm – Sam Hunt with Sean Stemaly and Shelby Darrall
  • August 13th, 8:00 pm – Demi Lovato with iyla
  • August 14th, 8:00 pm – Brooks and Dunn, with Kendell Marvel
  • August 15th, 8:00 pm – The Ides of March, featuring Jim Peterik – this is a free concert!
  • August 16th, 8:00 pm – Willie Nelson and Family with Elle King
  • August 17th, 8:00 pm – Shaggy and TLC
  • August 18th, 8:00 pm – John Pardi with Lainey Wilson and Chapel Hart
  • August 19th, 8:00 pm – Trevor Noah
  • August 20th, 2:00 pm – USAC Bettenhausen 100
  • August 20th, 8:00 pm – Disturbed with Nita Strauss
  • August 21st, 1:30 pm – ARCA 100 Atlas Series + Sportsman Nationals
  • August 21st, 8:00 pm – Sammy Hagar with Ann Wilson of Heart

You can purchase tickets for any of the Illinois State Fair lineup from the Grandstand Office or from Ticketmaster.

It should be noted that each show has varied pricing for different tracks, or tiers of the Grandstand. And many shows like Trevor Noah, Willie Nelson, Disturbed and others all have pre-show side party options for another $30, if that’s your thing.

Illinois State Fair Midway Springfield IL

Other fun things to do at the Illinois State Fair

The fair brings the best and coolest parts of the state together in a single place. There are tons of vendors, rides, art, booths, and of course, food. Even if you just go to walk around for exercise, the sheer volume of information and entertainment can help you effortlessly get those steps in each day.

Booths on Central Avenue

From the National Guard to various political figures, there are many booths to visit on Central Avenue. As a kid, I distinctly remember wrapping my textbooks in the sweet posters of jets I’d get from the guard booths (yes, I’m old), or cooling off with paper fans from the governor’s booth. If you want a plastic bag full of key chains, pictures, visors and more, then stop by the booths on Central Ave for some swag (of varying usefulness).

Artisan building

The Artisans building provides a showcase of talented artists from the region, including students from all over the state. Many of the pieces on exhibit are even for sale, so go and find your next perfect bit of decor and enjoy all the cool art on display.

Illinois building/Senior center

Two floors of vendors, exhibitions, and health information geared towards keeping our seniors feeling and living their best. This building sits right inside the main gate, with the enormous statue of Honest Abe standing guard outside – you can’t miss it!

For a full breakdown of the presentations, information, and goods available, check out the Illinois Building schedule here.

Fun for kids at the Illinois State Fair

If you’ve got young children and you want to treat them to a day of fun, there’s plenty to do beyond rides and games (though you should definitely check those out).

Kid’s Korner

The Kid’s Korner is open 10 am – 7 pm daily, offering a variety of free activities outside and inside. From face painting to clowns and storytellers, this is a great place to stop in and cool off. There’s also a diaper changing station, nursing area, and the Secretary of State provides digital child fingerprinting if you are interested.

Outside of the Korner, on Brian Raney Avenue east of Main Street, you’ll find the baby photo content, building barn, and Secretary of State bicycle skills challenge.

Inside, on the south wing of the Emmerson building, you can expect to see:

  • A daily, changing event schedule including the aforementioned clowns, face painting, Farmer Phil show, and others.
  • Department of Transportation child safety program
  • Coloring mural
  • Tiny Tots play area

Conservation World

A family favorite for decades, Conservation World shows off all the coolest parts of the natural world of Illinois. Throughout the 30-acre area, you’ll find fishing competitions as well as the biggest (and if you’re 6-year-old me, scariest) fish from around Illinois. There are wildneress guides, demonstrations, and an absolute bounty of knowledge to be gained in Conservation World. It’s a definite “must stop here” on a list of places to visit during the fair if you have kids.

Illinois Children’s Tent

This is another great place to chill when it’s too hot to walk around for a bit. The kids can pretend in the grocery store, listen to stories, check on baby chicks, color and more.

Illinois STEAM Expo

Running from August 17th – 21st, the STEAM expo offers a variety of demonstrations, competitions, and exhibits, showcasing the finest Science, Tech, Engineering, Art, and Math that the state has to offer. There’s also a State employment job fair on the 19th from 3:00 pm – 6:00 pm. All of this technological excitement takes place in the Orr building.

There’s a drone racing competition on the 19th at the Grandstand and an Esports tournament on the 20th, starting at noon. Check here to get more information and to register for either (or both!)

Kids Lego Contest

Everyone loves Lego but this contest is just for kids ages 5-12. On Sunday August 21st at 10:00 am, you can register in one of two groups: 5-8 and 9-12. Lego kits are provided for free, and build time starts at 10:00 am and goes until 11:00 am. Judging begins at 11 and prizes will be awarded, so bring your building A-game. Honestly, though, if you have kids that are mad about Lego, why not get some free blocks, have a blast building, and possibly win some prizes and show off their skills? You can check in starting at 10 am in the Expo building.

Ye Olde Butter Cow

Another year, another 500 pound butter bovine. The butter cow, housed in the Dairy building, is a monument to the human spirit’s ability to create art out of literally anything. You can check it out and then cool off with some of the best ice cream and shakes around.

Butter Cow at the Illinois State Fair Springfield IL

Livestock barns

Kids loving tromping through the livestock barns to see the 4-H raised sheep, pigs, cattle and poultry. You can stop by the racetrack for harness races as well.

Don’t forget the food

No visit to the Illinois State Fair is complete without trying dozens of different, wacky foods. What will they deep fry this year? I don’t know, but it will probably be delicious.

Nearly every street has some kind of food vendor set up, from the ubiquitous lemon shakeups and corndogs to the more exotic gator-on-a-stick or turkey legs. Salt water taffy and other confectionaries are everywhere, like Willy Wonka, but without the terror of a boat ride.

The Village of Cultures offers some of the best food in the fair, representing 11 food cultures: Brazilian, Filipino, Cajun, French, German, Greek, Italian, Jamaican, Lithuanian, Mediterranean, and Mexican. There are also 2 international beer booths to try.

We mentioned it before, but the Dairy building really does have awesome ice cream, and you should try the cream puffs, too.

Get out to the 2022 Illinois State Fair!

For those who grew up in Springfield, the State Fair is a fun-filled span of 10 days that provide lasting memories. If you’re traveling here to visit, be prepared to see, hear, taste, and ride the best the state has to offer. From big name bands in the Grandstand to a variety of art in the Artisans building, product demos in the Expo building, and memorable food throughout, you’re going to find something to love.

Take advantage of discount days for seniors, kids, service people, and first responders, to save some cash. Don’t forget to pick up a Mega or Jumbo pass for the thrill-seeker in your life! If you need to cool off, the Kid’s Korner, Expo building, and Illinois building/senior center are a great place to beat the heat.

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