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Thursday, May 24, 2012 09:02 am

Summerguide Big Events

Festivals, fairs and fun in central Illinois

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PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE

Old Capitol Farmers Market
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 27

Lamb from Knob Hill Livestock Co. in Petersburg, Amish bakery goods from The Homestead Bakery in Arthur, pecans from Voss Pecans in Carlyle, handcrafted cheeses from Ludwig Farmstead Creamery in Fithian; nectarines and plums from Heffington’s Orchard in Barchtown; lettuce, greens, tomatoes and peppers from Good Earth Farms in Lynnville.

Good weather, for the most part, has greeted the 2012 growing season. We can all reap the harvest from that blessing with an abundance of fresh local products and savory goods for purchase at the Old Capitol Farmers Market.

Every Wednesday and Saturday through October, browse three downtown blocks on Adams Street between Fifth and Second and discover an array of produce, cheese, plants, meats, spices, herbs, baked goods and so much more. More is the key here. Farmers Markets house more than sustenance that comes out of the ground; they are venues for art, music, culinary demos and health screenings and information.

Saturdays starting in June, an Artisans Area will embellish the parking lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Adams streets with treasures made by local artists. And on the third Saturday of each month, designated Super Saturdays, the marketplace has even more to offer. Chef Michael Higgins of Maldaner’s Restaurant serves up a cooking demonstration and local musicians serenade with their music from 10 a.m. to noon. The 2012 entertainment schedule includes: June 16, Elvis Himselvis; July 21, Skibbereen; Aug. 18, Black Magic Johnson; Sept. 15, Don Smith Band; and Oct. 20, Thornhill.  The Lincoln Troubadours will also sing at the marketplace throughout the season as part of the History Comes Alive program.

Organizers at Downtown Springfield, Inc. announced two new programs this year.  Wednesday shoppers may return home with deals thanks to Bargain Wednesdays. Also, buying in general is more convenient. A Link card, debit and credit card token purchase program begins June 2. Vendors will accept Market Tokens ($1 each) for transactions. Find the exchange station at the Development Services Group on the northeast corner of Fourth and Adams.

Several new vendors vie for your business alongside your favorites. Listen for a vendor synopsis each Wednesday morning on Bob Murray’s Grower of the Week radio program on WTAX, 1240 AM. Old Capitol Farmers Market is presented by St. John’s Hospital.

A complete vendor list and map can be found at www.downtownspringfield.org.

PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE

Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 16, and Sunday, June 17, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.

You’ll have a ball at this year’s Juneteenth Celebration held Saturday, June 17, and Sunday, June 18, at Comer Cox Park at Capitol Ave. and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. The community-wide party is not only a celebration of the historic day when slavery was eliminated in the United States, but now it includes the popular Gus Macker basketball tournament.

Organizers at Springfield nonprofits One in a Million, Inc. and Faith Coalition for the Common Good are excited to present central Illinois with the Gus Macker 3-on-3 outdoor basketball tournament. A popular competition that has had its struggles to stay in Springfield the past few years should enliven and invigorate the already hopping Juneteenth Celebration. Registration for four-person teams of young and old alike to play has ended, but these are fun intimate games to watch, so make sure to check them out both days.

Kicking off the two-day Juneteenth Celeberation is a parade at 10 a.m. with opening ceremonies following. Perhaps the most popular draw of the two-day festival is the music. This year will be no different. Come one, come all. This is a free event; there’s no admission.

PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE

Taste of Downtown / American Music Show
July 6-7, Friday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

More than 20 of your favorite downtown restaurants serve up tasty dishes of ethnic, eclectic and classic cuisine for Taste of Downtown to the benefit of all your hungry, and perhaps neglected, taste buds.     

Consider just some of the items on the mouthwatering menu: jerk pork taco, antipasto plate, meatloaf cupcakes, blackened salmon slider, Caitie Girl’s horseshoe tribute, cannoli, turkey cranberry cream cheese pretzel slider, fried oyster po’ boys, gyros, fruit fizzy, apple pecan chicken salad sandwiches, New England crab roll and grilled marlin burger. Which will you select? Admission is only $2. Children 12 and under get in free. Children’s entertainment will be provided 1-6 p.m. Saturday.

In association with the Taste of Downtown, the American Music Show provides some great jams to listen to while munching on all the scrumptious cuisine.

The lineup for Friday night rocks. Micah Walk plays at 6 p.m., Amy Levere at 7:30 p.m. and The Sadies at 9:30 p.m. Levere hails from Memphis. This country/rockabilly singer/songwriter is known for three things – her high, expressive voice, her upright bass and the sassy attitude found in her songs. The Sadies of Toronto are a psychedelic country rock band.

Starting out Saturday’s musical entertainment are local favorites, the Irwinites at 3 p.m. and Blue Ribbon Revival at 4:30 p.m. The Jans Project takes the stage at 5:30 p.m. Hailing from Champaign, The Jans Project is a rock band featuring two guitars, bass and drums. Members gather in Champaign from as far away as Chicago and St. Louis.

Saturday’s features include two Memphis boys, John Paul Keith at 6 p.m., and Jack O from Memphis at 10 p.m. Chuck Prophet from San Francisco takes the stage at 8 p.m. Keith is a blistering guitarist and roots rock singer/songwriter who learned to sing in church and play the guitar at 10 years of age. Catch Prophet before he jets off to Europe to open for the Jayhawks. Jack “Oblivian” Yarber is either a rock legend or an absolute unknown, depending on whom you ask. He’ll rock you out to the midnight hour.

If you really want to make it a complete weekend, consider a special downtown overnight package that includes admission and food and beverage tickets to the Taste of Downtown with your hotel room booking. For more information on the festival, phone Downtown Springfield, Inc., at 217-544-1723.

PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE

Decatur Celebration
August 3-5, Fri. 5-11 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m.

It’s huge and it’s free. From the Civic Center to the Decatur Arts Council, there’s block upon block and three days of family fun in the streets of downtown Decatur during the Decatur Celebration.

Ten stages, yes, “The Beat Goes On,” which is the theme of this year’s shindig. Headliners include: Platinum artist and Grammy Award winner, Billy Ocean (pictured above); Grammy-nominated group with one of the 100 best-selling albums of the 1990s, Spin Doctors; Double Platinum 1990s R&B group, Color Me Badd; Current Billboard Country Top 20 group and ACM Top New Vocal Group in 2010, Gloriana; Billboard Country Top 20 artist and “American Idol” season 9 finalist, Casey James; multi-award-winning contemporary Christian group, Big Daddy Weave; Christian Rap sensation, LeCrae; legendary disco group and Grammy-award winners, The Trammps, featuring Earl Young; 1960s soul artist Mitch Ryder and special guest Michael “Supe” Granda of the Ozark Mountain Daredevils.

And the beat goes on. There’s lots of local music, too. The Back Lot “Indie” art and music district returns, featuring emerging music artists, local artist exhibitions, a community art project and craft beer tasting. The Goodtimes Stage, in a new location on William Street, hosts country music all weekend, including headliners on Saturday and Sunday.

Three blocks house arts and crafts, while The Wine Garden returns with a premier selection of boutique wine in a new location on Merchant St., with the cool sounds of blues on the nearby Cabaret Stage.

Miller Spectacular Shows Carnival returns with exciting rides in the Decatur Civic Center parking lot. All You Can Ride wristband night is Thursday, Aug. 2, 4-11 p.m. A Kids Block featuring children’s games, shows and prizes will impress and inspire your youngsters, as will the Tate & Lyle and RK Dixon Razzle Dazzle Goodtimes Parade. It kicks off Saturday’s Decatur Festival at 10 p.m.

The award-winning Land of Lincoln Credit Union 21 Film Project hosts its awards ceremony in the Civic Center auditorium on Friday night, and screens films Saturday and Sunday in The Back Lot.

If you plan to eat and drink at the festival, you’ll need to buy a Band Together wristband. They are required to purchase food and beverages. Each band costs $5 for the weekend if you buy them in advance. They are $6 on site. “We appreciate the overwhelming support festival-goers have shown in purchasing the bands. This enables us to continually bring high-caliber entertainment to our festival,” states Decatur Celebration board president, Steve Furrow.

Don’t miss a beat. Utilize the festival website as a guide to plan your Decatur Celebration, at www.decaturcelebration.com.

PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE

Illinois State Fair
Aug. 9-19, 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily (buildings open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

Forget the world for 10 days, or at least one day during that time. Jump into your walking shoes, and join the excitement of the 2012 Illinois State Fair.

The fair kicks off Aug. 9 at 6 p.m. with the Twilight Parade. Stepping off at Ninth St. and N. Grand Ave., the parade travels down Ninth St. to Peoria Road, then north on Peoria Road to Eleventh St., through the ISF Main Gate to Main Street, on to the Grandstand. “Family Fun for Everyone” is this year’s theme.

Families will have a great night of fun on Aug. 9 inside the fairgrounds, too, on Preview Night. Admission is free. All carnival rides, including those in Adventure Village, will be open and offered at a discounted price from 5-11 p.m. Regular fair admission prices are $7 for adults, $3 for kids, with a $7 parking fee.

Grandstand entertainment this year features Country Female Vocalist of the Year Miranda Lambert on Aug. 18. She is preceded on Aug. 10 and Aug. 14 by country singers Eric Church and Brantley Gilbert, respectively. Tickets for concerts range from $18 to $45. Other major acts are rock icon Cheap Trick, Christian rapper TobyMac, the legendary Charlie Daniels, and a bill of classic and contemporary rock bands, including: Train, Creed, Night Ranger and Blue Oyster Cult.

Besides concerts and carnival, the fair offers 366 acres of an array of activities, food, displays, shows and much more for the young and old alike. Whether you browse the booths of vendors or see the newest butter cow sculpture, there’s something for everyone.

See the fair from new heights on the sky ride, operating daily from 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Also offered daily from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. is the Milk a Cow activity. This fun and unique exhibit is located in the 25/Q Series Barn. Families will also want to visit Conservation World with nature shows, booths and displays. There’s also a special events tent in The Heartland featuring daily entertainment and contests the family can join in.

The Heartland also features a Farmers Market Tent from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily, presented by The Illinois Specialty Growers Associations. They will be selling sweet corn, apple cider slush, peaches, cantaloupe, watermelon, popcorn, fresh garden salads and the popular egg-on-a stick.

Another popular and tasty offering at the fair is The Illinois Wine Experience, located inside the Twilight Ballroom. This indoor venue hosts 20 Illinois wineries. If you’ve been looking to sample some local vino, or need to step out of the heat for a while, the air-conditioned Twilight Ballroom is the place to be.

For maps and further details to plan your day out to the fairgrounds, the Illinois State Fair website is simple to navigate and easy to understand. See www.agr.state.il.us.

Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival
Aug. 24-26, Friday 10 a.m.-11 p.m., Saturday 8 a.m.-11 p.m., Sunday 8 a.m.-5 p.m.

On of the most majestic festivals in central Illinois, the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival, marries the beauty of fine art with the colorful grace of hot air balloons. The celebration takes place Aug. 24 through 26 at two locations in Lincoln.

The balloons are housed and launched from the Logan County Airport. Latham Park and the square in downtown Lincoln hold several other displays, shows and activities.

A lights and siren parade kicks off the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival Friday at 3:30 p.m. It winds through downtown Lincoln featuring sponsors, pilots and other local groups, travels past both Scully and Latham Parks, ending at the Logan County Airport.

Weather permitting there will be morning and evening balloon flights on both Friday and Saturday. At dusk the balloons return to the airport and re-inflate for beautiful evening glows. Tethered balloon rides are available for up to six people in one balloon, on both Friday and Saturday. Rides are $15 for adults and $10 for children.

The airport also houses a carnival. Unlimited rides are offered 1-4 p.m. Saturday for only $15. Also, test your skills on a rock climbing wall or watch the Wisconsin Kiters Club, Saturday, Aug. 25, at 1 p.m. as they fly 30-foot kites. Children can make their own kites and learn how to fly them as well, for only $5. Friday night’s entertainment at the airport includes the bands Vintage Daze and Still Kick’n. Saturday’s musical entertainment is Tru Dat and KFD.

One block north of the downtown Lincoln courthouse square, more than 70 juried artists will wow you with their original work at the Lincoln Fine Art Fair. Browse and purchase art for your home or business on Saturday, Aug. 25, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 26 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

More than 40 handmade crafts can be found at the Craft Fair held in Scully Park, downtown. Crafters of all mediums will be set up Friday from 3-5 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If you like finding treasures in others’ used goods, The Oasis Flea Market will also be housed in Scully Park. Days and times are the same as the Craft Fair.

If barbecue is what floats your boat, a Kansas City Barbecue Society sanctioned cookoff will also be held on the square Friday, Aug. 24 and Saturday, Aug. 25 with more than 30 competitors from across the country. Get a taste of some of the best barbecued chicken, ribs, brisket and pork butt.

Other downtown highlights are: the Art of Wine, a wine tasting event that includes music; hot air balloon inflations and displays; family fun and games along Kickapoo Street between Latham and Scully Parks; a car show on Sunday afternoon; a used book sale Saturday and Sunday at Lincoln Public Library, 725 Pekin Street; and a farmers market Saturday and Sunday.

Make sure to check the detailed schedule of events at the Lincoln and Logan Chamber of Commerce website at www.lincolnillinois.com.

Old Capitol Blues & BBQs
Aug. 24-25, Friday 5 p.m. to 12 a.m., Saturday 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Savory and sizzling barbecue tops the weekend menu while hard-driving, toe-tapping blues music rocks the stage at the Old Capitol Blues and BBQs the last full weekend of August, Friday the 24th and Saturday the 25th. Located at Fifth and Washington streets in downtown Springfield, this will be a yummy and entertaining end-of-summer party.

Featuring more than 40 BBQ competitors and vendors, you’ll be able to sample the best-of-the-best in barbecue made in the Midwest. Two new award categories – Most Festive Booth and BBQ Hospitality – have been added at the celebration,” states Ann Frescura, Downtown Springfield, Inc. events director and festival organizer.

Local and national blues talent is featured alongside the Illinois Central Blues Club Challenge. The competition begins at noon. The winner of the band challenge receives $1,000 in travel money to represent the ICBC at the Blues Foundation’s 29th Annual International Blues Challenge, scheduled to take place Jan. 29-Feb. 2, 2013 in Memphis, Tenn. A separate competition for a solo/duo act takes place on the same day. The winner of the solo/duo contest receives $500 in travel monies. These acts will have at least one member who belongs to the Illinois Central Blues Club.

Headliners for Friday’s music include: JC Brooks and the Uptown Sound at 6 p.m., JD McPherson at 8 p.m. and Wayne Baker Brooks at 10 p.m. Saturday’s lineup: Brooke Thomas and the Blue Suns, 4 p.m.; Chicken Shack, 5 p.m.; Hurricane Ruth, 6:15 p.m.; Maria Muldaur, 7:30 p.m.; Rockin’ Johnny Burgin, 9:30 p.m.

Admission to listen to the blues is $5. Ages 12 and under are admitted free. Free entertainment for your kids is presented on Aug. 25 1-6 p.m.

Special Downtown hotel overnight packages are offered for Old Capitol Blues & BBQs. They include admission and food/beverage tickets with your hotel room booking. Walk to and from the festival. For more information about this or the festival, contact DSI online or at 217-544-1723.

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