The Illinois State Fair — a ten-day celebration of agriculture, carnies and fried food on a stick – kicks off in Springfield tonight with the ceremonial Twilight Parade followed by the ribbon cutting and official opening of the Fair Friday morning.
As someone who grew up in Springfield and frequented the fair each and every summer for two decades there are a handful of things synonymous with the Fair: fresh-made saltwater taffy, a lemon shakeup, a Vose corn dog, a pork chop sandwich from the Illinois Pork Producers Association, something deep-fried, looking at a cow made of 500 pounds of butter, milking a real cow, petting a goat, something else deep-fried, riding down a Giant Slide and beer.
While I could drone on and one about the aforementioned fair goodies it is the latter — beer — we’re going to be talking about today.
Take a stroll around the sprawling fairgrounds and you’ll find, dotted on the outskirts of the popular thoroughfare of Grandstand Boulevard, large shelters suitable for thirsty, sweaty crowds to gather under — better known as beer tents.
The Miller Tent is conveniently situated by the comfortably shaded but usually crowded Food-A-Rama pavilion. The Bud tent is nestled in between the Commodities Pavilion — home of the aforementioned pork chop sandwich — and the Swine Barn where pork is in its natural state. The Coors Light Tent, which features both Coors and Corona, is in a prime location right on Grandstand Blvd and has, in years past, featured a sand floor — which is kinda cool when you are wearing sandals but not so cool when you are donning tennis shoes.
Long missing from this equation has been craft beer.
Our good friends at Rolling Meadows Brewery are working to change that.
For the third year in a row the brewery, based on a family farm just outside of Springfield, will have their flagship beers available including: Springfield Wheat, Lincoln’s Lager and their award-winning Abe’s Ale.
You can buy 22 oz bombers of each, to-go, for $8 apiece, get a full pour on tap for $4 or get a sample of one — or all three — for $1 each.
Rolling Meadows is on Central Avenue, across from the Miller Tent and Food-A-Rama, at the Illinois Wine Experience tent.
We’ve posted plenty about Rolling Meadows in the past and there’s a good reason for it; they’re churning out well crafted and easily approachable beers using home-grown ingredients and distributing their wares — on their own — across central Illinois.
Coincidentally a bill doubling the production cap for craft brewers in Illinois will automatically become law during the Fair. If the governor would prefer to hold a bill signing ceremony instead for HB 1573 might we suggest the Illinois Wine Experience tent? After all, Rolling Meadows was the first brewer to apply for and obtain a Craft Brewer license.
The Illinois State Fair runs August 8th through the 18th.