Sensory Friendly Fair
Sensory Friendly Fair Initiative
Globally, one in seven individuals live with a disability and many more live with an invisible disability. Those with autism, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and other sensory-processing disorders often experience sensory overload, limiting their ability to comfortably participate in crowded social gatherings. In 2023, the Illinois State Fair announced two new initiatives aimed at increasing accessibility and inclusivity for those who suffer from sensory processing disorders.
Plan your visit to the Illinois State Fair with this helpful learning tool. This step by step guide can help parents and caregivers communicate to others about what to expect when visiting the Illinois State Fair. A Day at the Illinois State Fair, A Social Story
On Saturday, August 12 (Kids Day), the Illinois State Fair will host Sunflower Hours from 9:00am-12:00pm. During this time, the Fair will make adjustments to select programming to create a softer more calming environment for children and adults who suffer from sensory processing disorders.
A variety of free entertainment options will be available within this timeframe to enable families with special needs to visit, explore and experience the Illinois State Fair. All entertainment offered during the Sunflower Hours is included in the cost of admission to the fair, there is no additional charge. These various stages will offer fun family friendly programming -- the same entertainment that is offered all 11-days of the fair-- but without the use of large sound systems and loud music.
Free Entertainment Schedule
|Adventure Village Stage
9:30 – 9:55
Cutest Show on Earth
10:30 – 11:15
Sky High Balloon Guy
11:30 – 11:55
Magic Bean Ag Show
Jump! The Ultimate Dog Show
Circle Circus Live
|Grand Central Stage
9:00am – 9:45am
Robocars Meet & Greet
Silent Dance Party
|Carnival Midway & Adventure Village
9:00am – 12:00pm
Select amusement rides available for those with special needs
|The Sensory Station
|9:00 am - 9:30 am
|Character Meet & Greet
10:00am – 7:00pm (daily)
located inside the Emmerson Building
Recognizing that the fair can be overstimulating and overwhelming for some individuals, the Illinois State Fair has created a designated area on the fairgrounds to aid individuals and families who need a moment to regroup.
The Sensory Station is in the Emmerson Building, in what was previously known as Kids Korner. Located just off Main Street and Brian Raney Avenue, this resource is conveniently located near the heart of the fairgrounds and will be a dedicated quiet zone. This air-conditioned building will be open all 11-days of the fair from 10 a.m.-7 p.m., and it will be staffed by trained volunteers who can help individuals identify resources within the Sensory Station to help them regroup and refocus.
The Sensory Station will be equipped with helpful tools such as weighted blankets, noise canceling headphones, calming pods and quiet activities to aid children and adults who need help processing the sights, smells, noises and crowds at the fair.
Thanks to a partnership with Hope School, a limited number of sensory bags, which include noise canceling headphones, fidget tools and sunglasses, will also be available to be checked-out for use on the fairgrounds.