Thursday, June 25, 5-11pm • Friday, June 26. 5pm-12:30am
Saturday, June 27, 11am-12:30am
The only assumption you can safely make about Assumption Fest is that a great time will be had by all. This huge festival has been going and growing for more than 80 years. Festival organizers are proud to offer “big-city entertainment in a small-town setting” just 41 miles southeast of Springfield.
Originally called Assumption Homecoming, Assumption Fest offers three days of family-friendly fun. Festival President Angela Ohl-Marsters has been working on the fest for 33 years, and has attended the fair since she was 5 years old. As a former queen in several fair pageants, she knows the ropes, and her experience and enthusiasm push Marsters and her committee to expand on the fest year after year.
This year’s new attractions include a look-a-like contest on Friday night, open to all (regardless of relation) for a $5 entry fee. Another new feature is Woody’s Menagerie, a traveling educational wildlife exhibit which features exotic animals, plus the magnificent cat display featuring the United States’ only mobile liger (a hybrid combination of a male lion and female tiger) exhibit. Woody’s Menagerie will offer free shows on Friday night and all day Saturday.
And Ohl-Marsters stresses, “It’s all free.”
Other free entertainment for all-ages includes the pop-country stylings of the Nashville-based Jessie Brown Band as main stage headliner on Saturday, June 27. Jessie, who has been singing and performing since age 3, averages 110 shows per year with her band. They have opened for country greats such as Chris Young, Randy Travis, George Strait, Blake Shelton, Toby Keith, Trace Adkins, and many more. The Jessie Brown Band takes the main stage from 7-9:30 p.m., directly after Miss Illinois 2014 performs opera music at 6:30 p.m. Other musical entertainment can be found in the beer garden, which remains open until 12:30 a.m. Friday and Saturday nights. A small beer garden cover charge includes musical entertainment includes popular country-rock band Feuding Hillbillies on Friday plus the 90s pop covers of 90s Daughter on Saturday. Seating will be available for all concerts, but attendees are welcome to bring a lawn chair if desired.
Assumption Fest opens Thursday night at 5 p.m., with an opening ceremony, the annual Little Miss, Junior Miss and Miss Assumption pageants, a pet show, carnival, Ronald McDonald Magic Show and more. “The pageants are huge, and we have never had fewer than 35 participants,” remarks Ohl-Marsters. The pet show on Thursday night is possibly the largest and cutest around the area.
Saturday’s events begin with an hour-long parade that leaves Coalgrove Ave. at Central AM School at 11 p.m. and heads north on Poplar, snaking west on North First Street, south on Hickory to Samuel Street and back to the middle school. Look for the Shriners, Royal Twirling Academy Fire Baton Twirlers, clowns, bands, floats, walking units and more. Your group can join the fun, too, by calling Ohl-Marsters at 820-1690.
Folks come precisely because they know there’s more to this little fest than you’d presume. Here’s a sampling: You can get your photo taken with Miss Illinois 2014, or the Central A&M Raiders. There’s a flea market, huge carnival with kids’ activities, the 144th Army Band, a meet-and-greet plus live auction of original paintings and art by visual artist and Milikin University MFA student Kat Scarim, tractor pulls, a Ronald McDonald Friday night magic show, arts and crafts show, flower shows and so much more.
If you’re in the market for free family fun, Assumption is only about 45 minutes southeast of Springfield. From Taylorville take the Assumption blacktop, or from Decatur take Route 51 south. The festival grounds are located on Chestnut street, and parking is free along side streets.