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Boats and motorcycles descend on Alton for two days of fun

They'll be rollin' on the river around Alton this weekend in more ways than one when boats of all sizes and one tricked-out motorcycle descend on the Mississippi for two big days of fun.

In Alton, classic ships will line the docks of the city's marina at 1 Henry St. for the fourth annual Antique & Classic Boat Festival.

More than 70 boats will be displayed on both land and water, including large cruisers and runabouts dating from 1930 to 1970. One of the main attractions will be a 1951 Chris Craft Continental, a 26-foot, all-mahogany, twin-engine replica built in Godfrey by the late John Kleinschnittger.

Presented by the Mississippi Valley Chapter of the Antique & Classic Boat Society, the free festival will be open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday. For more information, go to

Up the road, you'll find a really big boat at the annual Great Rivers Towboat Festival where the Mississippi and the Illinois meet in Grafton.

The Luhr Brothers, of Columbia, will show off a working towboat from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, allowing festivalgoers a taste of what it's like to work and live on the river for extended periods.

For landlubbers, there will be bands both days, children's activities, a display of radio-controlled boats and a cajun-flavored barbecue buffet courtesy of the Hawg Pit in Grafton. Admission is free; hours are 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.

Speaking of "hawgs," motorcycle lovers won't want to miss seeing the custom Harley-Davidson Circuit Rider, designed and buit in honor of Abraham Lincoln's 200th birthday.

With its custom copper-plated wheels with Lincoln penny designs along with airbrushed depictions of Lincoln, the Circuit Rider will cruise into Alton for stops at Ted's Motorcylce World on Saturday and the Celebration of Broadway from 1 to 3 p.m. Sunday. If you can't make it this weekend, the chopper will be parked at the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily now through July 9.

Elvis returns

As if it weren't hot enough outside, you'll feel your temperature rising even more when Steve Brandes takes the stage as Elvis at 2 p.m. Sunday in the East Carondelet Community Center.

The Troy man has been honing his tribute show for nearly 20 years now, performing the King's long list of hits in the glittering jumpsuits ala Presley's Las Vegas years. Also heating up the afternoon will be Rockin' Rebel Everett Dean along with Perfect Image from East St. Louis.

"I just saw Perfect Image recently at the Casino Queen, and they caused the people to stop playing the machines to watch them sing and dance," said East Carondelet Mayor Herb Simmons, who put together the village's first afternoon show.

Assure yourself a reserved seat and save $5 at the same time by buying tickets in advance for $15; they will be $20 at the door. For reservations, call 286-3393 or 286-5000.

Fireworks at the lake

Fire and water usually don't mix -- unless it's the Carlyle Lake Fireworks Spectacular that is set to explode on Saturday.

For more than 40 years, revelers have gotten an early jump on Independence Day festivities with a day of food, music and games at the Dam West area. Then, whether you're on land or on the water, the lake will provide a perfect setting for a night of colorful pyrotechnics.

But that's not the only place to enjoy some early Fourth of July fun this coming week.

Starting at 6 p.m. Sunday, The St. Louis Regional Airport in Bethalto will host an evening of activities, including music, games, pony rides and a small car show, all capped by a fireworks show by 9:40. And on Wednesday, Granite City will rev up its five-day "Patriots in the Park" festivities with an evening of music and rides starting at 6 p.m. in Wilson Park.

Archeology Day

Let your kids dig into the area's past when the Center for American Archeology in Kampsville hosts its annual Archeology Day from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

The family-friendly festival will let you explore the fascinating prehistory of the lower Illinois River valley region with tours of the 2,000-year-old excavation site along with flintknapping demonstrations, artifact identification and a hands-on kids activity area.

Admission is free, but donations are appreciated. Kampsville is on Illinois 100, about 20 miles north of Pere Marquette State Park.

Fur Ball Benefit

The Partners for Pets Humane Society will host a Fur Ball to benefit homeless furballs Saturday night at the Venice Social Club in Granite City.

Partners for Pets rescues dogs and cats that are facing their final days at area animal control centers. The group then provides medical care before the animals go to their new homes, running up roughly $100,000 each year in vet bills alone

"We give sick, injured and terrified animals priority because they have less chance to make it out," said Lisa McCormick, of the group, which adopts out more than 1,000 pets annually.

For $20, you'll be treated to a chicken dinner, draft beer, silent auction and music to Walk On from 7 p.m. to midnight. The club is at 4168 Illlinois 162; for tickets or information, call 560-9788 or 346-3010.

Parish picnics

Beckemeyer and Fayetteville will jump on the parish picnic bandwagon this weekend with festivities Saturday.

At St. Anthony's in Beckemeyer, they'll serve up the chicken and mostaccioli from 4 to 7 p.m. followed by a night of quilt bingo and children's activities. Mass will be at 5:30.

In Fayetteville, St. Pancratius will get things hopping with a polka Mass at 4 to kick off a night of chicken dinners, bingo, washer tournament and music by the Polka Connection.

Fishing dergy

Even if the fish aren't biting, kids still can land some big ones Saturday at the annual Leclaire Lake Fishing Derby sponsored by the Edwardsville Parks Department.

Along with a chance to win prizes for the biggest and most fish caught, the first 50 participants will get free goodie bags, and everyone will be treated to free refreshments. Activities, including a presentation by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources, will run from 10 a.m. to noon.

Firemen's picnic

The Red Bud Fire Department is ready to light up the town all weekend with its annual fireman's picnic.

They'll ignite the big doings Friday night with a fish dinner and music and keep it going all weekend with more bands, rides and a chicken dinner on Saturday. Don't miss the parade at 4 p.m. Sunday.