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July 23, 2014

Madison County Fair pulls a heavy load of entertainment

Dale Rogier competed in tractor pulls for 25 years, then laid low for 25 years.

Now the 83-year-old, rural Highland man is back in the game. He holds the top spot in his class (9,500 Pounds, Limited Pro Stock) with the Illinois Tractor Pulling Association.

"I'm a crazy old man, right?," Rogier said. "No really, we retired from farming last year, so I have a little more time on my hands. I had to get the OK from my family (for tractor pulling), of course. My wife got out-voted."

Rogier competed in the ITPA Track and Tractor Pull Tuesday night at the Madison County Fair, which runs through Sunday at Lindendale Park in Highland. It wasn't his best showing.

"We blew a high-pressure, water-injection hose (while pulling onto the track)," Rogier said. "I stopped because I didn't want to ruin the engine. But it's an easy fix.

"It's not how well you place. If you can finish a pull, load your tractor up, take it home, check it out, change the oil, fuel it and you're ready to go out again, you feel like you're a winner."

The fair kicked off Tuesday with livestock, exhibits, contests, carnival rides, live music, food and drink.

Upcoming arena events include the Combine Demolition Derby tonight, Car and Lawn Mower Demolition Derby on Friday, UMP Stock Car Racing on Saturday and TT Motorcycle Racing on Sunday.

Tonight's derby organizer, Dan Benhoff, has 16 contestants lined up. Their goal is to smash into other combines and debilitate them.

"You can pop the drive tires or try to break the back axle," said Benhoff, 32, of St. Rose. "When (the axle) is dragging behind them, they can't get enough traction to go through the mud.

"Those are the main two ways you try to take somebody out. Everything else is mechanical, if the engine breaks down or the clutch goes out."

This year, St. Rose Volunteer Fire Department will sell raffle tickets for a chance to ride around the arena track in a combine that Benhoff rebuilt.

Fairgoers also can help a local food pantry on Sunday.

"We'll have buy-one-get-one-free armbands (for carnival rides) if you bring two canned goods," said fair secretary Sue Zobrist. "That's a great offer. It's like buying your armbands for half price."

Today is Public Safety Day, Friday is Agriculture Day and Saturday is Military Appreciation Day at the fair. Sunday is Family Day with kids activities such as the Miss Pigtail Contest, Pedal Pull and Diaper Dash.

The popular Farm Follies talent show is Saturday.

"That's always a big draw for boys and girls because the winner gets to go and compete at the Illinois State Fair," Zobrist said.

This year's bands include Whiskey River tonight, Out of Focus on Friday, Strikeforce on Saturday and Cold Shot on Sunday.

Organizers hope the U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America Hot Brass follow through with their performance on Saturday, but they're expected to be deployed any day.

Also in the fair entertainment lineup is the 4-H Fashion Revue tonight, the 4-H Livestock Auction on Friday and the Madison County Fair Queen Pageant on Saturday.

"We have camel and pony rides," Zobrist said. "We're had pony rides in the past, but not camel rides. We also have a petting zoo. That's open all day every day."

Madison County Fair at a glance

Where: Lindendale Park in Highland

When: 9 a.m. to midnight today through Saturday and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

Exhibits: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. today through Saturday and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday

Carnival rides: 5 to 11 p.m. today and Friday, 2 to 11:30 p.m. Saturday and 1 to 6 p.m. Sunday

Admission: Free

Parking: $4 a day or $15 for week pass (free from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. today and Friday for lunch)

Arena events: $15 for box seats or $12 for general admission (free for kids 10 and under)

Information: Visit madcofair.com or call 618-654-6656

Madison County Fair schedule

TODAY

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- Exhibits open

5 to 11 p.m. -- Carnival rides

7 p.m. -- 4-H Fashion Revue

7:30 p.m. -- Combine Demolition Derby

8 p.m. to midnight -- Music by Whiskey River

FRIDAY

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- Exhibits open

11 a.m. -- Pork Producers barbecue

1 p.m. -- 4-H Super Showmanship Contest

5 to 11 p.m. -- Carnival rides

7 p.m. -- Car Demolition Derby

7:30 p.m. -- 4-H Livestock Auction

8 p.m. to midnight -- Music by Out of Focus

SATURDAY

10 a.m. to 9 p.m. -- Exhibits open

11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. -- Music by USAF Band of Mid-America Hot Brass (deployment pending)

1:30 p.m. -- Madison County Fair Queen Pageant

2 p.m. -- Farm Follies

2 to 11:30 p.m. -- Carnival rides

2 to 6 p.m. -- Music by Safe Haven

7 p.m. -- UMP Stock Car Racing

8 p.m. to midnight -- Music by Strikeforce

SUNDAY

10 a.m. to 7 p.m. -- Exhibits open

10:30 a.m. -- Church service

Noon -- TT Motorcycle Racing

1 to 6 p.m. - Carnival rides

1 p.m. -- Miss Pigtail Contest

1:30 p.m. -- Pedal Tractor Pull

3 p.m. -- Diaper Dash

3 to 7 p.m. -- Music by Cold Shot

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