Best Bets: Barbecue, hot air balloons, parish festivals, car show

Little Pig Cookoff

Jim Knapp would be proud that Beckemeyer is pulling together again Saturday with the Jim Knapp Memorial Little Pig Cookoff.

It starts at 3 p.m. at BCDC Park, Second and Murray streets in Beckemeyer. Admission is free. People’s Choice sampling for the pork steak cookoff starts at 5:15 p.m.; $10 per person includes a cupcake. Winners will be announced at 7:30 p.m.

Load-in for the cardboard regatta is at 3 p.m., followed by best-of-show judging at 3:30 and races at 4 p.m. Other attractions include Cupcake Wars and a vendor fair.

Music will be by the Jim Miller Band, Davis Brothers Band, Riverside Tavern Revival, Feedback and Wrath of Khan.

The event honors Jim Knapp (1930-2004), a fixture of the Beckemeyer community for years who was president of the Beckemeyer Community Development Club. He was instrumental in developing BCDC Park. He and his smoker/grill, emblazoned with “Jim’s Little Pig Bar-B-Q,” could be seen working fundraisers and other functions around town.

Church festivals

Holy Family Parish in Cahokia will celebrate its annual festival from 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday on the grounds of the historic church in Cahokia.

You’ll find carnival rides, raffles, cake and bake booths, Big 6 Wheel and 5-Card Poker, plus beer and margaritas for sale. Roy-El Catering food truck will provide food both nights.

Cash bingo starts at noon Saturday, and an Alumni Musician Mass is at 5 p.m.

Music will be by The Cardboard Room from 7 to 11 p.m. Friday and Rock Solid from 7 to 11 p.m. Saturday.

Holy Childhood Parish in Mascoutah will have a fish fry at 5 p.m. Friday, with live music.

On Saturday, Mass is at 4 p.m. An all-you-can-eat chicken dinner will be served from 4 to 7:30 p.m., with carryouts available. A lightning raffle starts at 5:45 p.m, followed by quilt and cash bingo at 6:30 p.m.

Balloon Fest

Darth Vader’s head will lead a force of more than 40 hot air balloons glowing and flying in Centralia’s annual Balloon Fest Friday, Saturday and Sunday in Foundation Park.

Admission is $3 adults and students; children 6 and under get in free. A 3-day pass is $6.

On Friday: Gates open at 3 p.m. A balloon race is at 6 p.m., followed by tethered balloon rides ($10 adults; $5 children) and a balloon glow at 7:30 p.m. The Invaders 2.0 will perform from 8:30 to 10 p.m. Fireworks are at 10 p.m.

On Saturday: Gates open at 6 a.m. and the balloon race is at 6:30 a.m. A Karaoke contest is from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. A car show is from 12:30 to 4 p.m. Tethered balloon rides are from 6 to 9 p.m. and a balloon glow is at 7:30. Shades of Blue Jazz Ensemble (U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America) plays from 8:30 to 10 p.m.

On Sunday: Gates open at 6 a.m. and a balloon race is at 6:30 a.m. Cardboard boat building is from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Catfish Pond, followed by boat races at 2:30 p.m. The final balloon race is at 6 p.m.

There is a craft fair all three days, continuous entertainment and a chilren’s activity area Saturday and Sunday.

Freeburg Homecoming

Freeburg will roll out its 91st annual homecoming Friday and Saturday at Freeburg Recreation Park.

On Friday, you can get up close and personal with a Budweiser Clydesdale from 6 to 8 p.m. A tractor and truck pull starts at 6:30 p.m. and Stump Water Shine will provide the music from 8 p.m. to midnight. Carnival rides, food, games and drinks are available both nights.

On Saturday, a children’s ride matinee is from 1 to 4 p.m., the parade steps off at 5:30 p.m., a truck pull starts at 6:30 p.m. and Turnpike Cruiser will perform from 8 to midnight.

All proceeds go toward the park improvement project.

Fun in the sun

The St. George Knights of Columbus Council 10311 will stage the Fun-In-The-Sun BBQ & Cruise-In Car Show from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday at New Baden Village Park.

All vehicles are welcome in the car show. Registration is from 10 a.m. to noon. Cars will be on display from noon to 4 p.m. Awards will be presented at 3 p.m.

What’s on the grill? Pork steaks, bratwurst patties and hot dogs. Sides include potato salad, baked beans, coleslaw and dessert. No alcohol will be served.

A raffle drawing, 50-50 drawing, music and attendance prizes are also part of the action.

Proceeds benefit Knights of Columbus Veterans’ and Fallen Heroes’ Tribute and other Knights of Columbus charities and projects.