What began as a fundraiser hosted in the Ryerson family backyard has grown to become one of the most treasured children’s events in Winnetka. Now organized by the Winnetka Community Nursery School, the Winnetka Children’s Fair strives to maintain the traditions from those early days and the magic that has kept it going strong since 1945.
“The Fair was started 73 years ago and since has become a beloved tradition in Winnetka, bringing the children and community together at the end of the school year for a truly magical weekend at the Village Green,” share co-chairs Lizzie Kelley and Emily Rose. “What makes the Fair so unique and special is that it really hasn’t changed all that much over the many decades that it’s been in existence. We are still weighing tickets, watching our children light up as they play an arcade game or go down the giant slide, and all coming together to put on this weekend of good old-fashioned fun for the children.”
“It has always been an event put on by the community for the community and has become a favorite pastime among the kids,” they add. “The Main Show may be gone (a production featuring local children), but everything else remains very much the same.”
Kelley and Rose, who both attended Greeley School and have known each other since kindergarten, remember looking forward to the Fair every year: “It’s wonderful to have it all come full circle and now be able to experience the joy of the Fair through the look on our children’s faces when they walk on the Village Green that Friday. It’s a tradition unique to this community and one we hope will continue for years to come.”
The Winnetka Children’s Fair’s corporate sponsors, such as the Winnetka branches of Coldwell Banker and @properties, play a vital role in ensuring that wish comes true through the generous financial contributions and volunteers they provide. “It’s great to have our community partners come together each year and rollup their sleeves for two days to help create the special moments that only the Winnetka Children’s Fair has provided children for decades” says Rose.
“This year we are excited to welcome new Platinum Level sponsors, including DV Trading, Shore Capital, The Grand, Hoffmann Commercial Real Estate, and Ruffolo Landscaping Inc. It truly takes a village to put on this event, and we could not do it without every single contributor, big and small,” she adds.
Last year’s attendees will be excited to learn that the petting zoo will be returning this year, alongside new favorites like the train—perfect for younger children—and the climbing wall. Including extended hours on Friday, organizers also have plans for a “dad band” in the works to provide music while families enjoy dinner on the Green.
Guests can also look forward to many other attractions sure to please children of all ages: rides, two giant slides, arcade games, inflatables, face painting, and, of course, Kiddieland. And don’t forget the food! As in years past, there will be many delicious snacks—from cotton candy and snow cones to pizza and hot dogs, to name only a few.
Mark the unofficial beginning of summer—and the last day of school for Winnetka Public Schools—this June 8th and 9th with treats, games, and a day of outdoor fun on the Green.
Fair hours: Friday, June 8, 11 am – 7 pm; Saturday, June 9, 10 am – 3 pm. Tickets are 50 cents and can be purchased in advance in $25, 50, 75 and 100 increments at local preschools or on the day of at the Fair. For more information, visit winnetkacommunitynurseryschool.org/about-the-fair or call Lizzie Kelley at 312-882-0332.