Big summer events
Saturday, June 18 and Sunday, June 19, 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.
For 17 years a community-wide celebration has taken place in Springfield on the weekend of June 19 that marks an important date in the history of the United States.
June 19, 1865, was the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas, were released into freedom. Since that time, June 19 was declared African-American Emancipation Day and it has been observed around the world since to commemorate African-American freedom and emphasize African-American education and achievement. In approximately 35 states, it is a state holiday.
Organizers of the 18th annual Springfield Juneteenth Celebration announce a host of entertainment and activities slated for families to enjoy. The party will be held at Comer Cox Park at Capitol Avenue and Martin Luther King Jr. Drive.
The two-day festivities kick off with a parade at 10 a.m. that begins at Brown Street and Martin Luther King Drive and ends in Comer Cox Park. Opening ceremonies will follow the parade. Each day vendors will set up in the park selling goods such as food, art and jewelry, a car and bike show will be on display and a basketball tourney will take place.
There is no fee for admission to this event. For more information about Springfield’s Juneteenth Celebration, phone 502-3701. To learn more about Juneteenth Day and the effort to make it a national holiday, visit the national site at www.nationaljuneteenth.com or www.juneteenth.com.
Illinois State Fair
Aug. 11-21, fairgrounds open 7 a.m. to 12 a.m., buildings open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
This year’s Illinois State Fair theme is “We’ve Got a Good Thing Growing.” Illinois flourishes with more than 28 million acres of farmland, 76,000 farms and some of the premier livestock in the nation. Celebrated almost every year since 1853, the159th fair is one of the largest agricultural fairs in the country.
Kicking off the 10-day showcase of people, animals, articles, programs, food and activities is the Twilight Parade on Aug. 11 at 6 p.m. The parade begins at Ninth Street and North Grand Avenue and enters the fairgrounds through the Main Gate on Sangamon Avenue.
Inside the gates, there’s all the regular fair fare: carnival, lemonade shakeups, corndog on a stick, butter cow sculpture, amateur art show, livestock show, vegetable show and ponytail and smile contest, but are you aware of the chilli cook-off, the meat loaf contest, the Great American Spam Championship contest, the fiddle and banjo contest, cottage cheese contest and bocce ball tournament? There’s just so much to do and see—ah, the list is full of good things and it grows and grows. Entertainment this year at the Grandstand includes music by country crooners Lady Antebullum, rapper MC Hammer and the longstanding band .38 Special. Check out the full lineup and details of all the contests, entertainment, activities and schedules at the fair’s website at www.agr.state.il.us.
General admission is $5, with children under four getting in free. There are special days each day with some free admissions for specific groups such as veterans and seniors. Parking is $7 in the fair lots, with trams, wheelchair and stroller services.
Taste of Downtown and American Music Show
Friday, July 8, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturday, July 9, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
July 8 and 9 taste the sounds and hear the yums. Or taste the yums and hear the sounds. You won’t be able to tell where one starts and the other ends or in which order they make their way to your stomach and ears if you visit one-of-the-most popular events held in downtown Springfield, the Taste of Downtown and American Music Show.
Sample the amazing food from more than 20 downtown Springfield restaurants as they serve ethnic, classic and eclectic cuisine. There’s no better time to feast on our city’s morsels as they are offered in one location.
As you sample the mouthwatering food, enjoy The American Music Show rocking out for two days. The lineup on Friday, July 8, features: The Handcuffs, a 60s modern pop/rock band; and The Detroit Cobras, a Detroit punk inspired garage band with sixties soul and a powerhouse lead vocalist.
On Saturday, July 9, the lineup includes: Headliner and country singer/songwriter dynamo Elizabeth Cook and her guitar-playing husband; legendary Mike and Ruthy from Woodstock, N.Y., playing acoustic American music; and Libertyville’s Ike Reilly Assassination, rocking experiences of the everyman.
The Taste of Downtown and American Music Show are located on Fifth Street between Adams and Jefferson. Put on annually by Downtown Springfield, Inc., admission is only $2 per person and kids 12 and under are free. For more information call 544-1723.
Old Capitol Blues & BBQs
Friday, Aug. 26, 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Saturday, Aug. 27, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.
This sizzling downtown event is a marriage of heaven and heaven. Sound and taste come together in an explosion of sensory pleasure. Downtown Springfield, Inc., and Illinois Central Blues Club fire up a night and a day of great blues music and some of the best barbeque you’ve ever tasted.
The soiree features 40 barbeque competitors and vendors setting up shop outdoors on the streets of Springfield serving ribs and more.
Local and national blues musicians play and compete in the Blues Club Challenge for a chance represent the ICBC at the International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.
Children’s activities and entertainment are available in the afternoon on Saturday.
Admission is $5, while children under 12 years of age get in free. All the fun takes place at Fifth and Washington streets on the square.
For more information phone 544-1723 or visit Downtown Springfield, Inc.’s website at www.downtownspringfield.org as the list of entertainment is finalized.
Mount Pulaski Founders Day Festival
Friday, July 1 through Monday, July 4
School students get a free day off from studies each year in March for a state holiday called Casimir Pulaski Day. Well, Mt. Pulaski was named in 1836 after Count Casimir Pulaski, a Polish brigadier general who gave his life in the Revolutionary War. Town founders added the word “mount” because the town, 28 miles northeast of Springfield, is set on a hill.
The small village of approximately 2,000 today celebrates 175 years of existence in a big way this year on the Fourth of July weekend with a grand slate of entertainment and activities for locals, alumni and the public to enjoy.
The organizing committee of the Founders Day Festival has brought in 24 musical acts for the four-day party, including the well-known jazz ensemble St. Louis Rivermen; nationally acclaimed singer/songwriter and folk musician Chris Vallillo, who plays a sweet guitar; the Philadelphia-based 176-key Dueling Pianos, known for their interactive style of piano playing; rock band Highway J; bluegrass music and more.
Tours are available of the historic courthouse where Abraham Lincoln practiced law on the Illinois 8th Judicial Cirucit, as well as the town cemetery, and there’s an agricultural tour offered off-site. Other highlights of the festival are re-enactors, an old-fashioned rifle shoot, a style show, wine tasting, a parade, and on July 4 at 9 p.m. a huge fireworks display.
Food is available for purchase in two large air-conditioned tents. Most of the activities take place around the square.
For more information on the Mount Pulaski Founders Day Festival visit www.mtpulaski175th.com or email email@example.com.
Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival
Friday, Aug. 26 through Sunday, Aug. 28
The Lincoln Art and Balloon Festival is one of the most strikingly beautiful and colorful festivals in central Illinois. It takes place for a full weekend in Lincoln at multiple sites including downtown on the square and in nearby Latham Park and Scully Park, at the Postville Courthouse State Historic Site at 914 Fifth Street and at the Logan County Airport, less than a mile east of I-55.
A parade kicks off the festival on Friday, Aug. 26, at 3:30 p.m. winding its way through downtown Lincoln (located in the southeast part of town) and ending at the airport.
The hot air balloons are located at the airport, along with a carnival, beer and wine garden, entertainment and food court. Balloons will make morning and evening flights both Friday and Saturday. You can take a tethered balloon ride on Aug. 27 or 28, weather permitting, for $10-$5.
Downtown you’ll want to catch the art show, craft and flea market, barbecue, family games, Illinois wine tasting, used book sale, farmers market, a car show from 1-4 p.m. and more. To get from park to park, take a carriage ride for $5, $2 for children 12 and under.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. a free 1800s Craft Fair takes place at the Postville Courthouse. Re-enactors will demonstrate rug hooking, rope making, spinner-weaving, quilting, blacksmithing, coppering, wood dying, candle making and more. Talk to a herbalist and an 1840s buck skinner and enjoy the music of several groups. You can also tour the courthouse where Lincoln practiced law.
For complete details about this popular annual festival, visit www.lincolnillinois.com/abf.aspx.
Old Capitol Farmers Market
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 29
More than 50 local vendors set up shop at the Old Capitol Farmers Market, making it easier for you to buy fresh vegetables, fruits, baked goods and more in one place.
It isn’t only the fresh, locally grown vegetables and fruits that draw droves to this outdoor market on Adams Street between Fifth and Second — it’s the ambiance. Market manager Ann Fresura of Downtown Springfield, Inc. notes, “The market has become a social destination, especially on Saturdays.” It is true. As we shed the office confines of our week and stroll sun-touched in open space, breathing in fresh air, the Farmers Market is where we can visit briefly with acquaintances, chat with producers and spend time with friends.
It’s a win, win and win again experience — for everyone, and Downtown Springfield, Inc. makes it even more so. As organizers of this growing venue, they also incorporate on Saturdays a local juried artisans market, held from June 4 through Oct. 22 in the parking lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Adams streets.
There’s also Super Saturdays. Held the third Saturday of each month, on these Saturdays the market’s offerings multiply. Cooking demonstrations are offered by Chef Michael Higgins from Maldaner’s Restaurant and live music sounds out from 10 a.m. to noon. The following groups are slated to perform: Don Smith Band on June 18; Micah Walk on July 16; Thornhill on Aug. 20; Elvis Himselvis on Sept. 17; and Black Magic Johnson on Oct. 15.
Also, on Wednesday mornings, Bob Murray of WTAX features a Grower of the Week on his radio program and Farmers Market sponsor St. John’s Hospital offers health screenings, tests and interactive educational programs periodically throughout the market season.
For more information on the Old Capitol Farmers Market or Downtown Springfield, Inc., visit www.downtownspringfield.org.