left ribbon left ribbon

SANDWICH FAIR HISTORY

126 Years of Rich History–A long Fair Tradition

  • 1888

    Local livestock group purchased 20 acres of land and the first Sandwich Fair was held in September.

  • 1889-1899

    Improvements were made that included a large dining hall, a regulation racetrack, horse barns, exhibit buildings, and a grandstand.

  • 1900-1909

    During this decade, attendance grew to over 22,000. Sandwich residents were encouraged to have the city “looking nice” to give a good opinion.

  • 1920-1929

    Electricity to the grounds made it possible for the fair to continue into the night. Some years there were fireworks every night. Fairgoers competed in horseshoes and ballgames.
  • 1910-1919

    Entertainment included automobile and motorcycle races, flying machines, and high-wire acts. A manure spreader displayed by Sandwich Mfg. Co. was a popular exhibit.
  • 1930-1939

    For the first time, commercial exhibitors paid for a space. Hard times resulted in smaller crowds at the fair. For the 50th Anniversary in 1937, buildings were painted white and “put in first-class” shape.
  • 1940-1949

    Visitors were entertained with a three-ring circus and vaudeville performers. Special exhibits were Victory Gardens and camera club photos. Poultry shows for the entire U.S. were suspended by Dept. of Agriculture.
  • 1950-1959

    Rides were 9 cents on Children’s Day; gate admission was 60 cents; a season ticket was $2. Improvements included a new midway with lighting and improved women’s restrooms.
  • 1960-1969

    Fay’s chicken and pork chop BBQ was introduced. Attendance increased when hundreds came on Burlington steam train excursion from Chicago on Saturday and Sunday; round trip fare was $4.65.
  • 1970-1979

    Racing ostriches returned to entertain the crowds. The decade saw record attendances of near 136,000.
  • 1980-1989

    Fair Board President Carlton “Dutch” Hough received Outstanding County Fair Award and State Fair Person of the Year Award. A decade of improvements: copper water lines installed in the buildings, blacktop by front and west gates.
  • 1990-2000

    Twenty new trees planted each year. Entertainments included first old time fiddle contest, bands at Ag Land Stage, and WGN noon shows. Fairgrounds had grown to 170 acres.
  • 2000-2011

    Sandwich Fair is known for the longevity of its vendors. Log Cabin, famous for homemade pie, (operated by United Church of Sandwich) has been at the fair 75 years; St. Paul's Catholic Church stand for 50 years, Otto's train for 55 years, Open Door Rehabilitation Center for 45 years, FFA Zoo for 40 years, King & Sons Monuments for 90 years. Admission is $8. Thirty-two acres was added for parking. A new main office was built, and a Fair Museum opened.

Information extracted from The Sandwich Fair Since 1888 published by The Sandwich Fair Association, Inc. 2001.


Sandwich Fair Historic Collector's Pins

Check out the historic collectors pins gallery with pins dating back to 1993 (yes, that is historic).

See the past fair pins gallery.

Get your 2013 Fair Pin souvenir.


Past Photos

Visit the photo gallery to see a sample of all the great things going on at the fair. Rides, Buttons The Clown, the horse show, draft horse pulls, truck and tractor pulls, demoliton derby, Mom's first place pie, and harness racting. See the people behind the scenes at the Sandwich Fair

See the fair photos gallery.


Sandwich Fair Education Committee

Activity Books

The 2013 Sandwich Fair will be the fifth year that an activity book for children is available. Children on school buses are met at the ticket booths and given the free activity books for things to do while visiting the Fair and later at school or at home.  Visits to each of the six designated places around the grounds are a fun way for children and others to see highlights of the fair.  After collecting a stamp at each of the stations, a small prize is given at the Gazebo for the adventure.  Each book has a theme.  See the activity book for this year.

Each year more children participate in the free adventure around the Fair.  The booklets may also be picked up at any of the designated places where they are stamped. The featured animal in the activity book each year is the same as the small stuffed animal that is sold at the Gazebo.  


Sandwich Fair History Museum

History Museum

When you visit the fair, take time to visit the recently completed Fair Museum. The museum is housed in the 1892 former Secretary's Office (just west of Otto's train track and south of the landmark windmill) one of the oldest buildings on the fairgrounds.

This year, on display are:

  • Sandwich Fair Timeline
  • Historic Premium Books
  • Photographs
  • Old Register books
  • Early fair Gazebo items
  • Old Movies being played on a television

The Fair archives will be used on a rotating bases, and each year a different area collector displays their collection of Fair memorobilia.

Last year, over 2500 people signed the guest book in the museum. There is so much to view, you may want to visit twice. Bring back those old memories or learn new things about the rich history of the Sandwich Fair. for more information about the New History Museum, Download this document .

Stop by and visit us, have a look around or sit outside on the benches to soak up the Fair sites.