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Thursday, May 22, 2014 12:01 am

Exciting summer events

PHOTO COURTESY CHAD MITCHELL PHOTOGRAPHY

 

Assumption Fest
6-11 p.m. Thursday, June 26; 5 p.m.-12:30 a.m. Friday, June 27; 11 a.m.-12:30 a.m. Saturday, June 28

Here’s a festival that’s been going on and growing for more than 80 years.

Originally called Assumption Homecoming, Assumption Fest continues to expand. This year there’s a new large carnival, more quality entertainment and a huge parade.

Festival president Angela Ohl-Marsters has been working on the fest for 31 years, and has attended the fair since she was 5 years old. A former queen in several fair pageants, she knows the ropes, and her experience and enthusiasm pushes her, along with a committee of seven, to make this a small-town fest that rivals its county cousins.

And Ohl-Marsters stresses, “It’s all free.”

That free entertainment for all ages includes headliners country duo Cook and Belle on Saturday, June 28. The pair, who have played with greats such as Trace Adkins, Charlie Daniels Band, Dirks Bentley and Rascal Flats and includes a five-piece band with Seth Cook, a 2013 finalist on “The Voice,” takes the main stage from 7:30-9:30 p.m. They will sign autographs during intermission and after the concert. Also in the beer garden from 8:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m., is the popular Champaign-based country rock band Feuding Hillbilles (small fee). Seating is available for both concerts but you can bring your own lawn chair.

Assumption Fest opens Thursday night at 6:30 p.m. with an opening ceremony, national anthem, three pageant contests, a pet show and carnival. The pageants are huge, remarks Ohl-Marsters, but the pet show on Thursday night at 8:15 p.m. is possibly the largest around the area. Besides dogs and cats, Ohl-Marsters says there have been pigs, chickens and other pets entered to compete in many categories. “It’s a lot of fun.” She’s also excited to have Happy World Carnival, who will have 15 kiddie and adult rides and games. Wrist bands run $20. Single tickets are also available.

Saturday starts off with a parade that leaves Coalgrove Ave. at Central AM School at 11 a.m. and heads north on Popular, snaking west on North First Street, south on Hickory to Samuel Street and back to the middle school. Look for the Shriners, Shriners clowns, horses, bands, floats, multiple walking units and more. Ohl-Marsters boasts that what is “unique about the Assumption Fest parade is we get people from Decatur, Mount Zion, Shelbyville and many other places from all around.”

And folks come precisely because they know there’s more to this little fest than you’d expect. You can get your photo taken with a red Radio Flyer – a car that looks like the children’s wagon. There are food vendors, sand volleyball and washers tournaments, photography and flower shows, kiddie and garden tractor pulls, a Ronald McDonald Friday night magic show and meet-and-greet, Macon Raceway Pace Car, chain saw woodcarving demos and auction, an arts and crafts show, a huge flea market, Solution Action Sports free bike shows on Saturday at 1 and 4 and 6 p.m. and more.

If you’re looking for some affordable festival fare, Assumption is only about 45 minutes east of Springfield. From Taylorville take the Assumption blacktop or from Decatur take Route 51 south. Parking is free along side streets.


Decatur Celebration
5-11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 1; 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 2; 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3

Hundreds of thousands of people will flock to downtown Decatur for one of the largest free street festivals in the Midwest. Four “Hot Summer Nights” begin when the celebration opens with carnival rides for the family on Thursday, July 31, from 4-11 p.m.

New this year is the University of Illinois Extension’s 4-H Block Party, 4H Techno Robotics Extravaganza and healthy living demos. Not only will the Macon County pageants for queen, junior miss and celebration princesses now be held in the Civic Center on Aug. 3, but the Decatur Celebration will now include a reining festival king and queen – one couple who together raise the most funds for the fair. Last but not least, Heinkel’s Hot Dog Eating competition will now be held at the Decatur Celebration. And contestants can enter by submitting a video.

Some great music is slated for the festival in 2014. The lineup includes the fun and fabulous undead funk band Here Come the Mummies who will be at the Civic Center on July 31. Other bands and musicians headlining the festival include Led Zepplica, funk and R&B band Space Capone, American Idol winner Ruben Studdard, Christian pop and rock band Royal Tailor, Jamie Grace, hip-hop icons Salt ’n Pepa, country singer Jo Dee Messina and rock icon Joan Jett and the Blackhearts.

The regular offerings are as big as the 10 stages of music and entertainment. There will be three blocks of arts and crafts, the award-winning Land of Lincoln Credit Union 21 Film Project with films on Saturday and Sunday in The Back Lot and an awards ceremony, a wine garden by the blues stage, the beloved Razzle Dazzle Goodtimes Parade on Saturday at 10 a.m., a kids block with shows, games and prizes, and more than 70 unique food items.

The festival is free to get in, but you’ll need to buy a Band Together wristband to purchase food and drink. Each band costs only $5 for the weekend if you buy them in advance. They are $6 on site. And that ticket price helps pay for all the free entertainment and free admission.

Details and maps for the Decatur Celebration are located at decaturcelebration.com.


PHOTO BY ANN FRESCURA
Old Capitol Farmers Market
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through October

From oyster mushrooms to handcrafted cheeses and grass-fed beef, visitors to this summer’s Old Capitol Farmers Market are bound to find something to make their mouths water. Presented by St. John’s Hospital and Downtown Springfield, Inc., the market opened for the season Wednesday, May 14, and features a spectrum of local goods including fresh cheese, baked goods, meat, spices, herbs, plants and locally grown produce.

The Market accepts LINK, debit and credit card transactions for the purchase of market tokens for $1. The market token station will be located at Development Services Group on 401 E. Adams and available 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each market day. Vendors will also continue to accept cash, checks, WIC and Senior Coupons. LINK customers may receive a maximum of $10 of double value tokens per market day until grant funds are expended.

Every Wednesday and Saturday through October, browse three downtown blocks on Adams Street between Fifth and Second and discover ways to enhance your at-home dining experience. Whether it’s the chef with an advanced palette, a family looking to add some flavor to its diet or the Saturday morning shopper, there is something for everyone.

Beginning May 17 through Oct. 18, local juried artisans will display and sell their original artwork as a part of the Local Artisan Market every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., in the parking lot at the southeast corner of Adams and Fourth streets.

New this year is “The Community Corner,” at the southwest corner of Fourth and Adams, which will feature a variety of live music, live radio broadcasts, chef demonstrations and kid-friendly activities. These activities will be held 10 a.m. to noon on Saturdays. This is a collaborative effort of DSI, Mid-West Family Broadcasting, Maldaner’s, Kidzeum, GenHkids and local musicians. Schedule of events is posted on the DSI website.

Some of the entertainment and activities lined up for this year’s Community Corner include Mid-West Family Broadcasting live broadcasting, Generation Healthy Kids activities, demonstrations by Chef Michael Higgins, and on Oct. 25, “Halloween at the Market.” Catch live musical performances including: June 2 - Lowder and Manning, July 5 - Thornhill, Aug. 2 - Solar Chariot, Aug. 9 - Skibereen, Sept. 6 - Don Smith Band, Oct. 4 - Deep Hollow.

Presenting sponsor St. John’s Hospital understands the importance of fresh, locally grown produce to help people live healthier lives. The hospital promotes wellness, healthy lifestyles, distributes informational materials and offers health screenings and programs, such as a body fat analysis and interactive educational programs, to help children and adults learn about the importance of proper nutrition. St. John’s also provides free blood pressure and other tests periodically during the season.

For more information, phone 544-1723. For a complete list of market vendors and market map visit www.downtownspringfield.org.


PHOTO BY ANN FRESCURA
Taste of Downtown Springfield
July 11-12, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday,  Fifth and Washington streets, Downtown Springfield

Reward your taste buds with delectable cuisine when favorite downtown restaurants serve up tasty dishes of ethnic, eclectic and classic cuisine for Taste of Downtown.

Consider just some of the items on the mouthwatering menu: maple bacon on a stick, duck fat potato chips with raspberry mustard, Lincoln’s Electric Blue Lemonade, specialty pizzas, mojo roasted pork horseshoe, mango chili glaze encrusted salmon, gyros, ribeye sandwiches, sliders, sweet potato fries, cinnamon apple wraps and chocolate covered pretzels. Which will you select to sample? Which will you vote for to win the People’s Choice Award for favorite food at the Taste? Admission is $10, which includes four food and beverage tickets. Children 12 and under get in free. Food and beverage tickets are only $1.

In addition to the great food selection, there is a variety of live music sure to please every taste. Get your toes tapping and kick up your heels with this great lineup: Kari Wattles starts the year’s musical performances on Friday, July 11, with the “Star Spangled Banner” at 5:15 p.m., followed by Trumpeter and Trompeter: The Jazz Franks at 5:30 p.m., Jonnie Concaroo Band at 7 p.m., Screamin’ Vatos at 8:30 p.m. and the evening’s headliner, Giving Tree Band, will take the stage at 10 p.m.

Catch Scott Wattles starting out Saturday at 3:45 p.m. with the national anthem, Don Smith Big Band at 4 p.m., Kapitol Sound at 5:30 p.m., then Suns at 7 p.m., followed by headliner Jonathon Edwards at 8:30 p.m. Closing the night will be Station at 10 p.m.

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, visit www.downtownspringfield.org or phone Downtown Springfield, Inc., at 544-1723.


PHOTO BY ANN FRESCURA
Old Capitol Blues & BBQs
Aug. 22-23, 5 p.m. to 12 a.m. Friday, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. Saturday, Fifth and Washington streets, Downtown Springfield

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 fourth weekend of August, Friday the 22 and Saturday the 23. Located at Fifth and Washington streets in downtown Springfield, this will be a yummy and entertaining end-of-summer party.

At this fest featuring more than 40 BBQ competitors and vendors you’ll be able to sample the best-of-the-best in barbeque made in the Midwest. Be sure to cast your vote for People’s Choice – Favorite Food, Most Festive Booth and BBQ Hospitality.

Both local and national blues talent is featured alongside the barbeque festival. Get your blues on with a great lineup. On Friday, Kicked to the Curb will first get the tunes going at 5:30 p.m., followed by Josh Hoyer & The Shadow Boxers at 7 p.m. and Harper & The Midwest Kind at 8:30 p.m. Then topping off the night is headlining performers Victor Wainright & The Wild Roots at 10 p.m.  

The Hard Road Blues Band will take the stage at 5:30 p.m. Saturday, then Mary Jo Curry and Tombstone Bullet at 7 p.m., Brook Thomas and The Blue Suns at 8:30 p.m. Closing this year’s music festivities will be The Lee Boys & Sacred Steel at 10 p.m.

From noon to 4 p.m. Saturday will be the annual Illinois Central Blues Club Challenge. Winners of the Illinois Central Blues Club Challenge advance to the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tennessee.

Admission to listen to the blues is $10, which includes four food and beverage tickets. Food and beverage are $1. Ages 12 and under are admitted free. Free entertainment for your kids is presented on Aug. 23 from 2-6 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, visit www.downtownspringfield.org or phone 217-544-1723.


Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival
Aug. 22-24 – 3:30-11 p.m. Friday, 6:30 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday

The Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival is two huge festivals in one that takes place at two locations in Lincoln the weekend of Aug. 22-24. Located a quick 30 miles north of Springfield via I-55, Lincoln’s exit 126 takes you straight to the airport.

Located southeast of the airport, downtown around the courthouse square is where the art part of the Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival is held. The Logan County airport is where the balloon part takes place. But this festival isn’t just about art and hot air balloons. Each location has numerous offerings.

The free fine art fair, held 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Latham Park, is partner to a children’s art fair where kids can make and buy art. A huge craft fair and flea market is located at Scully Park from 3-5 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday. There’s also lots of food and drink. In addition to a score of vendors, Kansas City Barbecue Society’s sanctioned barbecue cook-off will have food for purchase both Friday and Saturday. Wine and beer is available 5-11 p.m. Friday, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 12:30-5 p.m. Sunday at The Art of Wine and Brew tasting area. Eight wineries and two microbreweries will be in attendance.

Musical entertainment throughout the weekend completes the experience. And the Railsplitter Antique Auto Club will have a car cruise-in. You can also find some used books at the Lincoln Public Library Used Book Sale, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Sunday at the Lincoln Public Library. If you need a ride to the airport, a free shuttle will be running between downtown and the airport.

Out at the airport, colorful balloons will dazzle you. You’ll want to grab a seat for balloon launches and glows or better yet go for a ride. If you’ve always wanted a ride – you can pay for an early Saturday or Sunday morning ride. Make your reservation via the chamber, 217-735-2385. Rides are available on a first come, first served basis and are $250. Tethered rides are available on Friday and Saturday for $15. Other fun options include watching the hot air balloon launches Friday and Saturday night or Saturday morning or viewing the majestic glows at dusk on Friday and Saturday night. Balloons inflate remaining tethered to the ground as an announcer interacts with the pilots who in turn light up their balloons.

Even though the balloons are the main attraction at the airport, there’s an array of other activities on the grounds. Two great bands play Friday and Saturday evening. Rent a party space and tailgate at the festival or go to the food court or beer and wine garden to watch the balloons. For the family, there’s a carnival with fun games and rock climbing. For only $5, kids can make kites and learn to fly them. Wisconsin Kiters Club will also be flying 30-foot kites on Saturday, Aug. 24, starting at 1 p.m.

For all the details make sure to check out the Lincoln and Logan County Chamber of Commerce website at www.lincolnillinois.com.


PHOTO BY ERICKA HINE
Illinois State Fair
Aug. 7-17 – 7 a.m. to 12 a.m. daily, (buildings open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.)

The countdown to some of the best summer fun has begun with only 77 days left from the day Summerguide hits the streets until the Illinois State Fair. Springfield folk are blessed to have this 10-day overflowing smorgasbord of incredible food, quality entertainment, interesting displays and amazing performances right in their backyard.

You are invited to try your hand at this year’s theme, “Making Memories at the Illinois State Fair.” Start with a seat along the Twilight Parade route. The annual procession starts at 6 p.m. on Aug. 7, leaving Ninth Street at North Grand Avenue and making its way down Ninth to Peoria Road where it will travel north to 11th Street and in the Main Gate. It’s a great evening to visit the fair. Admission is free on Preview Night with discounts on rides and other attractions.

Regular fair admission is $7 for adults and $3 for children ages 5-12. Vehicle parking is $7 a day. With this in mind, another good time for families to visit the fair besides Preview Night is on the last fair day, Aug. 17. The general admission price is lowered to $3 per person. A few happenings on Family Day are Abe’s Amble, Draft Horse Pull, Chilli Cook-Off and Deadlift Competition. There are other special days for seniors and members of the military and their families and more.

No matter what day you visit the Illinois State Fair, there’s something for everyone. The butter cow exhibit has become a long-lasting key attraction and you can purchase some cheese or grab an ice cream cone when you see the sculpture. Some folks love to meander through the arts and crafts or food exhibitions marveling at the talent of Illinois artists and farmers alike. Conservation World is always a sure bet for great shows whether that includes raptors or reptiles, fish or fowl.

And that doesn’t even touch upon the spectacular music offered. This year, one of the hottest groups in country music, Florida Georgia Line, plays on Sunday, Aug. 10. They are joined in 2014 by some other great acts, including the 10 finalists from American Idol, Pitbull, Million Dollar Quartet, Boston, Hunter Hayes, Emblem 3, Steely Dan and Jake Owen.

The state of Illinois has a website that is easy to navigate and has all the info you need to plan when and how you’ll make your memories at the fair. Visit agr.state.il.us/isf.

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