Run boys, run, because Charlie Daniels and his fiddle fire will be in Pontoon Beach, but that’s far from the only festival around. There’s a travel theme to the weekend, from tiny tykes on trikes and bikes to a 700-year-old canoe. Buckle up!
Final summer fest
Not technically the “final” weekend of summer festivals, but try explaining to your local kindergartner that summer goes on even as school starts.
▪ Pontoon Beach’s party lineup includes The Charlie Daniels Band, and free entry to the Randall D. Dalton Veterans Park at 5111 Illinois 111 in Pontoon Beach. Pro Wrestling at noon on Saturday, and music starts at 5 p.m. with Vote for Pedro, with the Simple Man himself going on at 9 p.m. There’s also carnival rides from 6 to 11 p.m.; and plenty of food and beverage vendors. Go to www.pontoon-beach.org for a complete schedule.
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▪ You’ve known it before as the Taste of Southern Illinois in Lebanon, this year it’s Sips & Tastes and will be at Shiloh Community Park. Organizer Paul Siebert is especially excited about the new digs, because it’s more accessible to those near Scott Air Force Base. One of the musical acts is Starlifter, the U.S. Air Force Band of MidAmerica. Other musical acts include SmashBand at 7:30 p.m. Saturday.
The Sips & Tastes portion includes about 15 restaurants, such as Crehan’s and 4204 West Main, who will be there both as a food vendor and craft beer distributor. Sips & Tastes will be at Shiloh Community Park from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday.
▪ Germantown throws its annual Spassfest, opening its stands at 11 a.m. Saturday and welcoming a “A German Day in the Park” parade at 5:30 p.m. They’ll have a custom and antique bike show and a wine and beer brewoff, rides, bags and washers tournament and more. Head to www.germantownil.net/Spassfest.html for more information.
▪ Columbia’s Metter Park is home to a parade at 5 p.m. Saturday, as well as rides, games, food and music.
Downtown Edwardsville will be taken over by bicycles Saturday afternoon. Really fast bicycles, that is. It’s the fifth Rotary Criterium, an event sanctioned by the USA Cycling Association and the Missouri Bicycle Racing Association.
It’s not just for the pros, though, even with $10,000 in payouts. There are four free kids races, live music including dueling pianos and a pedal and paint art tent. Go to http://edwardsvillecriterium.com/# for more information.
They start off small in Pinckneyville, with miniature steam train rides, but there’s something for the big kids, too, with antique tractor pulls, ITPA tracor pulls and an antique car show at the Steam, Gas & Threshing Show. Always the third weekend in August, admission is free for those under 12; $7 for the rest of us to the annual American Thresherman Association show. Catch an eye full of blacksmithing, steam egines, wheat threshing, baling and more; get more information at www.americanthresherman.com.
Head north-ish or west-ish, and you’ll eventually run into a State Fair this weekend and over the next few days.
Anybody can “Ask Abe Anything” on the lawn of the Illinois Building at 11:45 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Illinois State Fair. Sunday is Veterans Day, where veterans and their families are admitted to the fairgrounds for free, and get discounted ride passes. The Fair started Thursday and runs through Aug. 23, with entertainment, rides and animal shows every day. Corn dogs will be a frequent sight, but alligator-on-a-stick and fried Twinkies are also on menus. Fall Out Boy will be at the Grandstand at 7:30 p.m. Saturday; Justin Moore headlines at 7:30 p.m. Sunday. The fairgrounds are two miles from Interstate 55 – take the Sangamon exit.
Missouri’s State Fair in Sedalia also has its Military Appreciation Day on Sunday, with free admission to military, veterans and delayed recruits and dollar admission for their immediate families. They’ll have a Farm Toy Show and the MU Mule Team out on Saturday; and Sunday features the National Barrel Horse Association Missouri All-District Race and an all-day robotics competition. Go to www.mostatefair.com for more information.
Key to Cahokia
Cahokia Mounds will open a new permanent exhibit on Sunday; or you can get a sneak peek at the 700-year-old restored Canoe and more from 7 to 9 p.m. Saturday. The $20 ticket (free for members) includes desserts and entertainment and a stroll through “Wetlands and Waterways: the Key to Cahokia” exhibit. Call 618-344-7316 or go to www.cahokiamounds.org.
Avast ye mateys, those who missed the Pinta and the Nina have one last weekend before the ships sail off early Monday from Grafton. Ye be warned.