DuPage County Fair a good spot for body art
Patrons make their way across the grounds of the DuPage County Fair on Saturday, July 28, 2012. | Jeff Cagle~For Sun-Times Media
Updated: July 31, 2012 2:19PM
The DuPage County Fair’s attendance is up slightly this year and there seems a corresponding increase in visitors creative enough to decorate themselves with tattoos.
The body art should come as no surprise, since the fairgoers only reflect a growing trend in Americans willing to submit to the needle of the tattoo artist.
A January 2012 Harris poll indicated that over one in five Americans had tattoos, with the 30 to 39 age group especially active in painting their bodies with 38 percent reporting a least one tattoo.
The motivations behind individual choices in body art are as varied as the people themselves.
McHenry County resident Rachael Rosenthal showed environmental concern with a half-sleeve filled with flowers, vines and two eyes representing Mother Nature.
“Basically, it’s Mother Nature and everything that’s in the real world,” she said.
Donald Smith is from Florida and works for the company running the carnival section of the Fair.
One of his arms depicted an owl and voodoo doll just below a Japanese henna mask. On his chest was a wolf’s head against the backdrop of a full moon.
Streamwood resident Dale Baker said he came to DuPage County Fair every year and got his start decorating his body back in the mid-nineties.
Baker’s arm sported a dagger and an Asian demon and he said he wasn’t done painting the canvas just yet.
“I want to get some more tribal art,” he said, noting that his family had a Cherokee background.
Bill Hunter of Warrenville had the names of his two sons on his shoulder and an elaborate pattern he called, “bio-mechanical,” depicting human veins, bones and ligaments.
Hunter said he didn’t have definite plans for more body art, but stressed, “You’re never done.”
Yorkville resident Dan Chesney sported a full sleeve on one arm with flowers, the name of his daughter and the face of an angel. His other arm depicted his wife’s face and the inscription “Soul Mate.”
Don Balslew had a symbol from his favorite band, “Metallica.”
For those who couldn’t decide on a permanent symbol of expression and just want to test the waters, Alex DeRiggi was ready to help them out.
The Glen Ellyn resident and COD art student manned a booth selling temporary tattoos that lasted about two weeks.
She drew one on Tara Fitzgerald of the word “To Tee,” which was Fitzgerald’s late grandmother’s nickname for her as a child. The two letter “Ts” were shaped in the form of a cross.
“I love it,” she said of the finished product and said she wanted get a permanent version some day.
Fitzgerald had tried once to get a permanent tattoo while on vacation in Austin, Texas, only to be told her wrist was too small. “And I was totally sober,” she said with a laugh.
“I wanted something that meant a lot,” Fitzgerald said of getting a permanent tattoo.
DeRiggi agreed that a permanent tattoo was not a decision made lightly.
“It’s a hard thing getting a tattoo that’s going to last the rest of your life,” she said. “I’ve thought about it, but I can’t commit. I’m a wuss.”
Body art aside, the Fair looks like a definite success, especially in light of the scorching temperatures of the first two days.
“We’re very happy,” Jim McGuire, DuPage County Fair Association President, said of the attendance. “It’s better than last year.”
McGuire was particularly pleased that the Fair hosted a St. Baldrick’s Foundation event in the morning.
Twenty volunteers got their heads shaved to raise pledges for research to fight childhood cancer, and McGuire said they raised over $10,000 already.
“They’re still counting,” he said.