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Thursday, June 19, 2014 12:01 am

Festival and fair fun

The Soil and the Sun, a nationally known indie-rock band from Grand Rapids. Mich., headlines the 20-band The Horse Show festival near Pawnee on Saturday.


Man oh man, the festivals are overflowing, the fair is happening and the warm season is here in all its music glory. Here we go with fun times in the summertime.

Such sweet dreams roll around in my head of the Sangamon County Fair of my youth. Our family didn’t do the Midway much at the state fair (too expensive), so the little carnival in New Berlin was our time to ride. I remember entering a collection of jugs somewhere and being so disappointed to get a fifth place ribbon. My sisters entered a bunch of bottles and fared better. Later in my teenage years, the fairground was a place to run around and discover the finer points of social interaction between us youngsters. We didn’t go back much for years after that, and it seems the fair nearly faded away. Entertainment brought it back when they began a one-price admission that included quality grandstand shows.

Today the formula still brings in folks. This year’s lineup includes Lynyrd Skynyrd, Easton Corbin, The Swon Brothers and Justin Moore. Beer tents are a draw for drinking, but the live music keeps the drinkers there. Thursday through Saturday the Bud Tent hosts Whiskey Medicine, Broesph E. Lee and Exit 52, while the Miller Tent brings in Captain Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters, Brushville and KFD. Have fun at the fair.

Head to Havana for a Metalfest of immense proportions happening on Saturday, June 21 at the Paddlewheel on Route 97. Featuring bands Cemetery Gatez (Pantera Tribute band), Killinoise, Bloodroot, Ocularis, Dead But Dreaming, Blackwater, Tradition Ov Torture, Compelled to Destroy and Bodybag Fit For a King, this is the fifth show put on in the last year by Doug Hubbard and Ryan Hough. Hubbard, also the bassist and a vocalist of Dead But Dreaming, reunites his band from 20 years ago to debut at the fest. Resurrected by Hubbard and Josh Forbes (guitar, vocals) and invigorated with the fresh blood of Andrew Travous (guitar) and Devin Williams (drums), the quartet plays “straightforward, raw metal” to the hilt. On July 4 at Fubar in St. Louis, the boys open for Finland’s Behexen, a black-metal legendary fixture for 20 years. The metal scene often gets overlooked in central Illinois, but there’s vibrant support for the genre and a tremendous amount of talent driving the metal machine. Check it out and metalize.

Head off in another direction for a completely different music event when The Horse Show features 20 touring and local indie bands on two stages at the Refuge Ranch, 3845 Delay Road, near Pawnee, Saturday, noon to 10. Hosted by our friends at the Radon Lounge, the all day family fest combines artisan vendors, food from Ayappa’s International Cuisine and Dew Chilli, plus family-friendly games with an eclectic lineup ranging from acoustic folk to hip hop to hard rock. Admission is free, but donations are welcomed to support the Refuge Ranch, a nonprofit group that pairs abused and neglected horses with children needing help and support to create a place of healing and hope for both in a mentored horsemanship program. Sounds fantastic and fascinating, just as the music will be as well.

Head farther south to one more big event on June 20 and 21, when the Copperhead Music Festival comes to the World Shooting Complex, near Sparta, Illinois. The two-day shebang helps celebrate Sparta’s 175th anniversary with familiar area acts such as The Woodbox Gang and Chicago Farmer along with major hitters, including The Georgia Satellites, Joan Jett, Molly Hatchet and more. Find out the skinny at the festival website.

Well, all that is going to keep me busy this weekend.

Contact Tom Irwin at tirwin@illinoistimes.com.

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