Illinois State Fair 2021 guide: Parking, schedule, concerts, tickets
The Illinois State Fair is back with new foods, midway rides and exhibits. Before you head out for the fun or indulge in the deep-fried goodness, here’s what you need to know about the fair.
Where is the Illinois State Fair?
At the Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 Sangamon Ave., Springfield
What are the Illinois State Fair dates, hours?
The 2021 Illinois State Fair runs from Aug. 12-22. The fairgrounds are open from 7 a.m. to midnight for the duration of the fair. The fair administration office is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Proof of vaccinations or negative COVID-19 tests will be required for the standing-room-only area at outdoor grandstand concerts during the fair. Vaccinations and negative COVID-19 tests won’t be required for general fairgoers but based on recommendations from the Illinois Department of Public Health and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, masks must be worn over the nose and mouth in public places indoors throughout the fairgrounds and at all outdoor grandstand performances.
Free masks will be provided at fair entrances and at the grandstand.
IDPH also will be providing the one-dose Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine for free at six locations during the fair. Locations and times are:
- Illinois Building, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Happy Hollow and Main Street, Aug. 12, noon to 8 p.m.; Aug. 13-22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Brian Rainey Avenue (by the AFL-CIO Pavilion), Aug. 12, noon to 8 p.m.; Aug. 13-22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Avenue of Flags (across from the Grandstand box office), Aug. 12-22, noon to 8 p.m.
4-H Lane: Aug. 12, noon to 8 p.m.; Aug. 13-17, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Livestock Center on Eighth Street, Aug. 18-22, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
At the Illinois State Fair:Bret Michaels, Dee Snider, Dokken round out Grandstand lineup
COVID-19 testing will also be available at all vaccination locations except the Illinois Building. Be sure to have your photo ID and insurance card if you have one. Proof of immigration status is not required. The J&J vaccine is only authorized for individuals 18 years and older.
How much are Illinois State Fair tickets?
- Children (0-12), free
- Adults (13-59), $10 (Fridays & Saturdays)
- Adults (13-59), $5 (All other days)
- Seniors (60+), $3
The best deal may be the $45 discount admission booklets. The booklets contain 11 admission tickets, one for each day of the fair. To purchase call (217) 782-6661 or stop by the Emmerson Building on the Illinois State Fairgrounds. Booklets also are available online at IllinoisStateFair.info
How can I get in free?
On designated days, admission is free for some fairgoers including:
- Aug. 15: Veterans and their immediate families
- Aug. 16: Seniors and Scouts
- Aug. 20: First responders.
All must have the proper identification.
How can I get to the fair?
Sangamon County Mass Transit will provide bus service to the fairgrounds. Plan your trip at http://www.smtd.org/statefair2021
Taxi service also will be available outside the main gate.
What should I know about fair traffic?
Traffic patterns near the Illinois State Fairgrounds will change to accommodate the influx of vehicles during the fair.
Beginning at 5 a.m., Aug. 12, the Illinois Department of Transportation will change the traffic flow around the fairgrounds to one way counterclockwise. In addition, both eastbound and westbound turn lanes at the intersection of Veterans Parkway and Eighth Street will be closed. Portable signs will be set up to inform motorists of the changes. Normal traffic patterns will resume by 6 a.m. Aug. 23.
Here’s another heads up, the northbound ramps from Sangamon Avenue going onto I-55 are closed and traffic is detoured to the Sherman exit.
Where should I park for the Illinois State Fair?
Access infield parking daily for $5 and seasonal for $40 — through Gate 6, Lot 18.
Beginning Aug. 12, parking will be prohibited on neighborhood streets south of Sangamon Avenue. These changes will remain in effect until the morning of Aug. 23.
When is the Twilight Parade?
The Twilight Parade is 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 12, with the parade run starting at 5 p.m.
The parade route begins in Lincoln Park. It will head north through the park to Sangamon Avenue and then east to the Main Gate and into the fairgrounds. Staging for the parade will begin at 1:30 p.m. in the park.
The parade route will close to traffic at 4 p.m., and detour signs along North Grand Avenue and Veterans and J. David Jones parkways will be in place.
The route is expected to remain closed until 9 p.m. No public parking will be available for parade viewing in Lincoln Park or the Nelson Center. Access the Nelson Center at the intersection of Third Street and Black Avenue.
Illinois State Fair:Check out the lineup for the Grand Central Stage free shows
What are the carnival hours?
- Aug. 12: Noon to 11. p.m.
- Aug. 13: Noon to 11:30 p.m.
- Aug. 14: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- Aug. 15-19: Noon to 11 p.m.
- Aug. 20: Noon to 11:30 p.m.
- Aug. 21: 11 a.m. to 11:30 p.m.
- Aug. 22: Noon to 11 p.m.
How much are carnival tickets?
Individual carnival ride tickets are $1.50 each. There are deals on mega and jumbo passes that allow for unlimited rides during the fair. Both can be purchased at the Emmerson Building on the fairgrounds. For details go to https://www2.illinois.gov/statefair/ridesattractions/Pages/MegaPassCarnival.aspx
What new foods should I try?
Baldy’s Pretzels, regular and stuffed, is on Grandstand Avenue; Desert Sno has hand-dipped corn dogs on Main Street; Exotic Edible Pineapple Drinks — pineapple, watermelon, and other fruity drinks — can be found on Main Street; and Taste of Africa in the Village of Cultures, are among the new food vendors this year.
What is the Illinois State Fair concert schedule?
Gates open one hour prior to showtime.
Aug. 12: Sammy Hagar and the Tonics, 7:30 p.m., Tickets: $45, $35, $30, $25
Aug. 13: Kane Brown with Restless Road, 8 p.m., Tickets: $58, $48, $43, $38
Aug. 14: Gabriel “Fluffy” Iglesias, 8 p.m., $46, $36, $31, $26
Aug. 15: Toby Keith with Craig Morgan, 7:30 p.m.; $59, $49, $44, $39
Aug. 16: The Traveling Salvation Show – A tribute to Neal Diamond, 7:30 p.m., Free
Aug. 17: Chris Young with Ingrid Andress and Payton Smith, 7:30 p.m.; $47, $37, $32, $27
Aug. 18: I Love the 90s Tour with Vanilla Ice, Naughty by Nature, Bones, Thugs-N-Harmony, Coolio, Tone Loc, Rob Base, All 4 One, Young MC
Aug. 19: Badflower with Dorothy and Dead Poet Society, 8 p.m., $15
Aug. 20: Brett Young with Russell Dickerson, 8 p.m., $50, $40, $35, $30
Aug. 21: Bret Michaels with Dee Snider and Dokken, 8 p.m., $50, $40, $35, $30
Aug. 22: George Thorogood with .38 Special, 7:30 p.m., $34, $24, $19, $13
Go to https://www2.illinois.gov/statefair/entertainment/freestages/Pages/default.aspx for a list of free concerts.
What else is there to do?
Plenty. From taking a ride down the giant slide to seeing the Butter Cow, take shape, the fair has an abundance of ways to enjoy the once-a-year celebration. Meet a farmer in the Illinois Department of Agriculture tent, the Village of Cultures and Conservation World, also are among the don’t miss. Check out the full schedule at https://www2.illinois.gov/statefair/info/Pages/Default.aspx