Summer in Illinois is time for festivals.
From bagels and popcorn to wine and beer, from ribs and candy to herbs and strawberries — there’s a celebration for every body and every taste.
And we do know how to party!
Maybe it’s the freedom that comes from finally shedding our heavy winter coats. Maybe it’s the joy of being outside in the sun, with friends and family. Maybe it’s simply that carnivals bring out the kid in all of us.
Take a typical festival weekend, lather the kids and yourself with sunscreen, then don sunglasses and a wide-brimmed hat. You’re ready to sample huge varieties of food, buy stuff you don’t need, shell out “one more dollar” trying to win a stuffed cat, and have a ball!
First, the food:
- Lemon shakeups
- Funnel cakes
- Hot dogs
- French fries
Then the activities:
- Carnival rides
- Games of chance
- Arts and crafts booths
- 5K walk or run
- Bike rides
- Golf tournaments
- Pet parades
- Car shows
And the entertainment (mostly FREE, of course!):
- Up and coming bands
- Tribute bands
- Rock-and-roll bands
- Country bands
- Solo entertainers
- Stand-up comedians
- Local talent shows
- Beauty pageants
And for people-watchers, it’s like paradise. You can observe:
- The wheeler-dealer trying to drum up sales from his vendor’s booth
- The enterprising youth hoping to secure a late-summer job
- The old guys sitting on a shaded bench, talking up the “good old days”
- The young families trying to juggle baby, stroller, diaper bag, and toys
- And boomers reliving their teen years as a favorite song is played
Some communities have opted to allow beer tents into their festival lineup. They’ve heard from organizers in other communities that beer tents are “real money-makers.” Of course, having beer tents means having a whole new set of rules, including banning sales to kids under the legal drinking age.
Other communities don’t want to be bothered with all that. They’ve kept their festivals family-oriented and alcohol-free.
To each his own.
Whether you’d like to chomp down on all the free popcorn you can eat at Casey’s Popcorn Festival, or feast on free bagels at Mattoon’s Bagelfest, or down sweet corn at Urbana’s Sweet Corn Festival, or get your fill of cheese at Arthur’s Cheese Festival, it’s all here. And that’s just in Central Illinois — there’s plenty available outside this region!
So if you’re looking for a neat place to vacation, don’t rule out Illinois. As our state tourism office proclaims, we offer “Mile after Magnificent Mile.”