We all know that we’re into fair season — the Mississippi Valley Fair kicks off Monday — but we’re also getting closer to state fairs.

This year, dinosaurs are taking over the Illinois State Fairgrounds.

When you go to the Illinois State Fair, you expect to see the classics.
Horses, cows, giant pigs — But this year, some new predators will be taking over the fairgrounds.

Over two dozen dinosaurs are going to be part of the first state fair that “Dino” Don Lessem’s exhibit has ever visited.

“I’ve been working on dinosaurs for 35 years,” Said Dino Don. “I used to excavate them, write a lot of kids books. And I got interested in robots about three years ago, when I realized I could make them full-sized.”

This exhibit is part of an effort from fair organizers to keep the experience fresh. As it bounces back from the pandemic.

“It’s always important to maintain tradition, as well as bring new things in,” Fair spokesperson Krista Lisser said. “We still have the butter cow — you can’t have the fair without the butter cow. But then we brought in dinosaurs.”

Dino Don has over 300 dinosaurs spread all over the world right now, but his business has only been up and running for a few years.

His prehistoric career goes back decades, to when he was the dinosaur supervisor for the original “Jurassic Park.”

“I was not a dinosaur kid,” Dino Don said. “Like you weren’t, and most kids are. But as an adult to go out on these things in the middle of no place and see, like to be the first person to see an animal that nobody’s ever seen is unbelievable feeling.”

While the dinosaurs never get old for Dino Don, they aren’t his favorite part of his work.

“That they just watch their kids. As an adult, it’s so much fun to see them as the boss, because they’re going to tell you everything they know about dinosaurs, and that their eyeballs can open this wide. Because this is the only place you can see them full size, the way they actually were.”