Sandwich Fair History

  1. Years 2010 through today

    Headliners at the main stage: Justin Moore, Chris Cagle and Dustin Lynch, Easton Corbin and Back Country Roads, Brett Eldredge, and Frankie Ballard.

    The wood section of the grandstand is closed and the 100-year-old grandstand is torn down.

    New entertainment includes a hot air balloon, the duck races, and the Lumberjack Show, and a new hospitality Pavilion is built, sponsored by Heartland Bank.

  2. Years 2000 through 2009

    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.

  3. Years 1990 through 1999

    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.

  4. Years 1980 through 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.

  5. Years 1970 through 1979

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

  6. Years 1960 through 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.

  7. Years 1950 through 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.

  8. Years 1940 through 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.

  9. Years 1930 through 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.

  10. Years 1920 through 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.

  11. Years 1910 through 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.

  12. Years 1900 through 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.

  13. Years 1890 through 1899

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

  14. 1888

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

While you're at the fair, grab some history.

If you've come to love the Sandwich Fair, you've probably come to love its history.


2017

Sandwich Fair Windmill

Sandwich Fair windmill Art

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2016

1945 Grandstand Ticket Office

1945 Grandstand Ticket Office

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2015

Collections Building

Collections Exhibitors Building

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2014

Burlington Northern Caboose

Burlington Northern Caboose at the fair

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2013

The Farm Zoo

FFA Farm Zoo

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2012

Original Secretary's Office

The Original Secretary's Office

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2011

Ticket Office

Original Ticket Office

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2010

Tractor Pulls

The Tractor Pulls

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2009

Antique Farm Machinery

Antique Farm Machinery

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2008

Cornucopia

Exhibitor's Cornucopia

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2007

Secretary's Office

Secretary's Office

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2006

Dairy Barn

Dairy Barn

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2005

Home Arts Bldg

Home Arts Building

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2004

Hog Barn

Hog Barn

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2003

Otto's Train

Augie Otto's Train

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2002

Gazebo

Gazebo/Information/souvenirs booth

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2001

Harness Racing

Harness Racing

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2000

Home Arts Bldg

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1999

Horse Barn

Horse Barn

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1998

Windmill

Windmill

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1997

Grandstand

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1996

Horticulture Bldg

Horticulture Building

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1995

Round Office

Round Office

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1994

Orig Ticket Office

Originall Ticket Office and Gate

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1993

Home Arts Bldg

Home Arts Bldg

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Visit the Fair Museum while at the Fair.

Located west of Otto's train and south of the windmill in the 1892 dark green Secretary's Office, it's one of the oldest buildings on the grounds.

On display is a timeline from the beginning of the Fair until 2000, items that were given away or sold at past fairs, and items from a different area collector each year.

The museum is a stop for Activity Book stamping and has DVD's running on a TV from years past. New items are continually being donated, so there is always something new to view and friendly hosts to greet fairgoers and help answer questions.

Original Secretary's office now History Museum

The Sandwich Fair since 1888: DeKalb County, Illinois (Hardcover)

Written and compiled for the 125th anniversary of the Sandwich Fair.

  • Editor — Vivian C. Wright, Ed D
  • Project Coordination — Karen Breunig
  • Photo Coordination — Jackie Dannewitz
  • Research Verification — Joan Hardekopf
  • Research Support — Don and Doug Stahl
See this book on Amazon

History of Sandwich and the DeKalb County Fair

Come take a look at the history of Sandwich from its beginnings in the mid-1850s to today. First known as Newark Station, the town’s name was changed to Sandwich in 1856 by Congressman John Wentworth, after his hometown in New Hampshire. Wentworth was instrumental in getting the railroad to stop here. Sandwich, surrounded by the fairest and most fertile country, was advertised in 1892 as one of the most beautiful and prosperous cities in northern Illinois. Its agricultural implements, made by the Sandwich Manufacturing Company and Enterprise Company, were shipped worldwide. Sandwich is now known for its annual county fair, antique shows, and shopping.

About the author: Joan Bark Hardekopf is a longtime resident of the community. Her family roots date back to the earliest farms. Along with members of the Sandwich Historical Society, Hardekopf is pleased to present this book as part of the 150th celebration of Sandwich. Royalties will help fund the sesquicentennial in 2009. Visit amazon for more information and to get a copy (hard cover, paperback, or Kindle).