Posted on March 1, 2018 by Dina Miller
From the early morning sounds of the fair waking up – animals stirring in the stalls, carnival workers checking the rides, and concessionaires heating up their fryers – to the giant boom of fireworks at the end of the evening, it’s an American icon that draws people back year after year. Not only is Indiana the crossroads of the nation, but the heart of the Midwest, where county fairs have meant endless fun and family time for generations.
Each of the seven counties that make up Indiana’s Cool North hosts a county fair with its own special flair. But they all have one thing in common – the ability to draw thousands of people each year for a week or more of pure Americana. You can spend days taking in a huge array of events, from 4-Hers showing their prized animals to local talent shows, thrilling rides, fabulous food, big-name entertainers, rodeos, and tractor pulls, but still not cover everything there is to do.
So mark your calendar, load up the family, touch the Heartland’s roots, and perhaps start a tradition of your own that will carry on in years to come. Welcome to Northern Indiana’s very cool fairs! Here’s what’s in store, with links to complete descriptions of each fair:
Where: St. Joseph County Fairgrounds, South Bend
When: June 29 - July 07, 2018
Evenings at the St Joseph County Fair feature the popular St. Joseph County Sheriff’s Posse Rodeo, the Fair Queen Contest, a Monster Truck Throwdown, and, of course, four nights of the big fireworks show. Daily entertainment brings a host of talent. Country singers DeWayne Spaw and Colton Chapman will each perform, singer Val Ingle is back, as well as the world-class comedy show Allez-OOPS! Don’t miss the three-ring circus and antique tractor parade each day.
Where: LaPorte County Fairgrounds, LaPorte
When: July 8-14, 2017
Two big Grandstand shows at the LaPorte County Fair include Country star Joe Diffie performing with Pat Green and Kane Brown with his special guest Mitchell Tenpenny. The Entertainment Tent brings a host of free performances that range from country to easy listening to soul. The fair is also staging some featured events – the NTPA tractor pull, Rolling Stone Rodeo, and the County Fair Queen contest.
Where: Kosciusko County Fairgrounds, Warsaw
When: July 8-14, 2018
Where: LaGrange County 4-H Fairgrounds, LaGrange
When: July 14-21, 2018
The LaGrange County Fair gets off to a great start with the big fireworks display opening night and the fair parade the following day. Sunday also brings a main stage performance by Crowder, a well-known contemporary Christian singer, songwriter and author. The whole family will love the daily Sea Lion Splash Show, with these amazing sea creatures balancing balls, shooting hoops, dancing and doing handstands. Be prepared for different thrills with rodeo competition, midget auto racing and extreme supercross racing.
Where: Marshall County 4-H Fairgrounds, Argos
When: July 15-21, 2018
Perhaps one of the most unique performances of the week at the Marshall County Fair is Lily Pearl’s Square Dancing Tractors. Yep. These tractors actually do-si-do and almost seem to be swinging their partners! The talented Indiana group has performed at the Indiana State Fair and other top festivals. You’ll also enjoy the big band sounds of the Sentimental Journeys Band.
Where: Porter County Expo Center and Fairgrounds, Valparaiso
When: July 19-28, 2018
The yearly lineup of grandstand talent at the Porter County Fair is so impressive that it easily matches some much larger state fairs across the country. This year, the legendary Brooks & Dunn take the stage, as well as Brett Young with Ashley McBryde as his special guest. And for fairgoers who love to watch exciting action, this year’s fair will feature A-Bar Rodeo Bull Riding for fast-paced competition, the Super Show Tractor Pull, A Tuff Truck Challenge and Demolition Derby.
Where: Elkhart County 4-H Fairgrounds, Goshen
When: July 20-28, 2018
Naturally, the Elkhart County Fair is filled with non-stop entertainment, including five nights of shows on the Grandstand stage that range from the rock sounds of Daughtry to the contemporary Christian music of Newsong and Casting Crowns to LanCo, and Rachel Platten. A tractor pull, rodeo and demolition derby round out the 9 days of Grandstand entertainment. You can buy tickets for reserved track seats for the performances, but Grandstand seating is free, on a first-come basis.