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Indoor winter festival at Lake County Fairgrounds

Shane Jones 2 Round Lake Beach enjoys kiddie ride Holiday Hoedown. | Chris Cashman/For Sun-Times Media

Shane Jones, 2, of Round Lake Beach enjoys a kiddie ride at the Holiday Hoedown. | Chris Cashman/For Sun-Times Media

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Holiday Hoedown is open daily from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. through Dec. 29 at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake. The indoor, winter festival features a Magical Midway of rides, games, and food; Santa’s Farm, with antique tractors, train rides and hayrides; Frosty’s Fairway mini golf; and Gingerbread Square with entertainment, crafts, bingo, holiday vendors and beer garden. Admission is free with additional charge for midway rides, games, hayrides and mini golf. Parking is $10. Details, (847) 680-7200 or visit

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Updated: February 24, 2014 4:23AM

GRAYSLAKE — Brandon Jones said it is nice to have a winter hoedown near his hometown.

Jones of Round Lake Beach brought his family last weekend to the inaugural Holiday Hoedown at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 1060 E. Peterson Road, Grayslake.

The mostly indoor winter festival features a Magical Midway of rides, games and food; Santa’s Farm, with train rides, antique tractors and hayrides; Frosty’s Fairway mini golf; Gingerbread Square and Blitzen’s Brewery. The Hoedown continues through Dec. 29.

“We usually go down to Winter WonderFest in Chicago at Navy Pier,” said Jones, who was with his wife, Melissa, and children, Shane and Miranda. “This is just so much closer. It’s almost the same type of deal as Navy Pier, which is just on a bigger, grander scale. This beats the traffic — it’s so much closer to home. We’re enjoying being here and having the day off.”

Sheri Vyfvinkel, executive director of the Lake County Fairgrounds, said the year-round facility usually isn’t in use the last two weeks of December. “We decided to create our own event,” she said. “We saw a need in Lake County for a family winter event.”

Daily entertainment in Gingerbread Square includes Clem Kringle’s Classic Christmas Croonin’ at noon and 4 p.m., and Rick Colen, a Barnum & Bailey Circus Clown College graduate, performing comedy, magic and juggling at 3 and 5 p.m. Create an ornament at the Holiday Crafts workshop from 1 to 1:45 p.m. Barnyard Bingo is from 2 to 2:45 p.m. Turkey Bowling Competition will be at noon Dec. 28.

Ali and Andy Kegebein brought their two sons, Drew, 6, and Zack, 5, to the Hoedown. They drove an hour and 20 minutes from Naperville.

“We took the trek up here today to see it,” Ali Kegebein said. “It seemed like something fun for the family to do.”

Drew was carrying a dragon stuffed toy he won at a carnival dart game owned and operated by Peter Kasin of Grayslake.

Strolling down the midway were Lake County Fair pageant winners: Miss Lake County Fair Meghan Opolka, 21, of Antioch; Junior Miss Charlotte Roberts, 14, of Grayslake; and Little Miss Tori Weaver, 9, of Mundelein.

“I think it’s wonderful,” Opolka said of the Hoedown. “I’m really glad they’re utilizing the space.” She said crowds to the Hoedown should pick up after Christmas, “when people are home again, not traveling, and taking time off work.”

Vendors at the Hoedown last Saturday included Susan Kidd of Round Lake, who was selling jewelry and Suncatcher ornaments. “When you’re done hanging them on the (Christmas) tree you can put them in the window,” she said.

Howard M. Bricker of Lindenhurst was signing copies of his children’s book, “The Christmas Santa Had No Beard.” Spoiler alert: Blame it on Baldy, the North Pole barber.

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