Family Picks: Meet me at the fair (or inside)

Family Picks: Meet me at the fair (or inside)

OK, I know it’s hotter than blazes outside, but it’s county fair season and that just goes with the territory.  You’ve got your pick of fairs this weekend, from the Champaign County Fair to Mattoon's Bagelfest. Or beat the heat with some “Christmas in July” improv, or take in some fun (indoor) youth theater.  Stay cool!

Champaign County Fair: Through July 30, Fairgrounds, Coler and Fairview avenues, Urbana. Admission charge.

Everything from livestock to monster trucks, not to mention carnival rides, are available at the fair, which covers two weekends. Things kick off tonight with the Demolition Derby at 7 p.m. On Saturday, Military Appreciation day, highlights include the 20th annual Classic and Custom Car and Truck Show and Motorcycle Rodeo from noon to 4 p.m., and a country music concert featuring Matt Poss and Rolling Thunder, Renegade and Brantley Gilbert at 5:30 p.m. The carnival opens at 1 p.m.

Sunday is Family Day/Agriculture Day, with admission and carnival discounts. For one $20 bracelet you can get unlimited carnival rides from noon to 5:00 p.m. Other highlights are the horse show at 9 a.m., religious service at 10 a.m., Fire Apparatus Water Ball Competition from noon to 4 p.m., Farm Bureau agriculture events from 12:30 to 5 p.m. and the Prairieland Monster Truck Nationals at 6 p.m. Events continue throughout next week.

Gate admission is $5 for those 13 and older, but parking is free. A nine-day pass is $20. On Sunday, admission is $10 per car until 4 p.m. Some events may require additional admission.

For information: Call 367-8461 or visit

Farmer City Fair: Friday and Saturday, 850 N. Grove St., Farmer City. Admission charge.

Attractions include the carnival, children’s activities, entertainment, music, rides, commercial vendors, livestock shows and food. Saturday's lineup features a Western horse show at 10 a.m. and a tractor and truck pull at 5 p.m.

For information: Call 309-928-9110 or visit

Bagelfest: Mattoon Bagelfest, Friday and Saturday, Peterson Park at 500 Broadway Ave., Mattoon. Some admission charges.

When the Bagel Factory was new to the Midwestern town of Mattoon, owner Murray Lender hosted a free bagel breakfast for the City of Mattoon. That was the beginning of Bagelfest, which  has evolved into a three-day festival. This year’s theme is the beach blanket bagelfest.

Activities include a carnival, live music and food, including a Lender’s Free Bagel Breakfast from 8 to 10 a.m. Saturday and a Bagelfest Parade at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. Travis Tritt plays on the Main Stage at 8 p.m. Saturday ($18 admission) and Craig Campbell on Friday night ($10).

For information: Visit

‘A Little Princess, the Musical’: Danville Light Opera Summer Youth Musical. 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 2 p.m. Sunday, Bremer Auditorium at Danville Area Community College, 2000 E. Main St., Danville. Admission charge.

This musical adaptation of the classic by Frances Hodgson Burnett tells the story of young heiress Sara Crewe, who is enrolled at Miss Minchin’s seminary in Victorian England. Her life takes a dramatic turn when she receives news of the loss of her father — and her fortunte — but curious things happen when a a mysterious gentleman from India moves next door.

Tickets are $5 to $7.

For information: Call 431-1660 or visit

Two for one: ‘A Year with Frog and Toad Jr.’ and ‘Groovy.’ ACT Theatre Company, 7 to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday,  North Park, Church Street, Gibson City.

This annual double feature youth show includes the story of two great friends, the cheerful and popular Frog and the rather grumpy Toad through four fun-filled seasons. In “Groovy,” a group of ‘60s flower children decide to put on a rock show at the local apple farm.

Admission is $4 at the gate; no advance tickets. Bring a lawn chair.

Zoo Improv: 11 a.m. Saturday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Take to the stage with the comedy troupe that will help bring out the comedian in you. Intended for children ages 5 and up.

For information: Call 356-7805 or visit

Anime: First-ever Urbana Free Library Anime Mini-convention, 1 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday,  Lewis Auditorium, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St,. U. Free.

This teen-targeted event includes a cosplay (costume) contest, a manga trivia quiz, and a screening of clips from new anime, as well as an “artist’s alley” featuring art by you and your friends. Plus prizes, raffles, snacks, and more!

For information: Call 367-4057 or visit

Kids Play! 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Join dancer Sandra Hendrix-Lopez for an afternoon of stories, creative movement and play.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

Edgar County Fair: “150th Anniversary,” Saturday through July 30, 1104 S. Main St., Paris, Ill. Admission charge.

Activities include livestock shows, live music, harness racing, bake sales, amusements, rides, and the  Edgar County Fair queen pageant at 7:30 p.m. Sunday.

Grandstand admission is $1-$15, but admission to the grounds is free all week, with a $2 per car parking fee.

For information: Call 465-5379 or visit

Christmas in July! A CU Theatresports improv party, 6 to 10:15 p.m. Saturday, SoDo Theatre (home of Class Act) 114 S. Neil St., C. Suggested donation.

Cool off with this festive version of CU Theatresports comedy improv. Enjoy Frosty face painting, games and mad-lib carols from 6 to 7 p.m.; family friendly improv with a holiday twist from 7 to 8 p.m.; candy canes, hot chocolate and more wintry treats from 8 to 9 p.m.; and holiday improv for the big-kid crowd, 9 to 10:15 p.m.

The suggested donation $5 at the door. Proceeds go to Champaign Center Partnership, sponsor of the 2011 Parade of Lights.

For information: Call 766-5964 ro visit

Car tunes: Joint concert with Danville Municipal Band. 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Sunday, under the performance shell, Lincoln Park, Danville. Free.

The carTunes Community Summer Band and the Singin’ in the CAR-us Community Summer Chorus perform with the Danville Municipal Band.

For information: Visit

Coming soon:

Neighborhood Nights:  "The Beat Kitchen,"  6:30 to 8 p.m. July 27, King Park, Urbana. Free.

Urbana Park District’s concert series includes free popcorn and lemonade, games and activities, as well as a close-up look at Urbana city vehicles. Bring blankets and lawn chairs. In case of rain, the concert will be the following night.

For information: Call 367-9575 (hotline) or 367-1544 or visit


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources. To submit an item, e-mail me at, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page,

Photos: Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

Top: Gage Shafer of Champaign, left, and Jeremy Killian of Mahomet, ride the Baby Mini Wheel at the 2004 Champaign County Fair in Urbana.

Bottom: Dylan Couch, 5, Mahomet, spends some time with Santa Claus at the 2009 Christmas in July Event in Monticello Square.

(Bagel image from this website)


Login or register to post comments