In Tolono, you can never have too much summertime fun

In Tolono, you can never have too much summertime fun

TOLONO — Independence Day celebrations are right around the corner, and although the holiday doesn't officially arrive until Wednesday, Tolono Fun Days President BRIAN BOOHER is getting a jump on the festivities with an alluring firework show.

"Wrapping up the festival, we'll have a show with $12,000 worth of fireworks," he said. "A lot of people say they like our show better than the Champaign County one. It's one of the best small-town shows."

From helicopter rides to a mobile zoo to flea market vendors, the little town of Tolono will be bustling with free events during its annual Fun Days festival at East Side and West Side parks. Starting this evening with a night full of competition, here's what else is on the two-day agenda through Saturday:


First up on the lineup is the chance to win cash prizes at the Tolono Twilight Trek Kids' 1K and half-mile run starting at the West Side Park Scout Cabin at 6 p.m. today, followed by the Adults' 5K run/walk.

Afterward, registered attendees can participate in Fun Days' first annual golf cart parade, which follows the runners' route, while the four-piece band After Curfew performs. Those who don't own a golf cart have a chance to win one after purchasing tickets in a raffle Saturday.

"This is the first year we'll have a golf cart parade, which should be a lot of fun," Booher said. "The entrants are automatically put into a raffle to win a $100 prize. Trophies will be awarded for the other winning entries."

To conclude the evening, Fun Days will present a free outdoor showing of the animated feature "Ferdinand" at 9 p.m.


Saturday's events begin at 6:50 a.m. with the Cub Scout Pack 55 flag raising and sunrise service at West Side Park.

Following the ceremony, attendees are welcomed to a Masonic breakfast, before parade festivities begin at 11 a.m.

"The decorated floats throw candy to people on the side, which kids love," Booher said. "The parade is an event that's always a great time for families."

After the parade celebration, helicopter rides will go from noon to 4 p.m. for a small fee. However, if there's a demand for them, the rides will go later, he said.


The extensive list of attractions available also includes inflatables, a petting zoo and pony rides, the Scovill mobile zoo, demonstrations by Wings of Wonder bird rescue, and a retiring of the colors. And, Booher said, the fair will feature a new barrel train for younger visitors.

"One popular feature has always been the Kiddie Tractor Pull," he said. "This year, we converted new 55-gallon barrels to train cars kids can ride around in."

For the older audience, Booher suggests taking time to listen to local bands Saturday, such as The Caleb Cook Band performing 2 to 4 p.m., and Champaign Freight from 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.Whisky River, a six-piece modern country band, will be playing their second show at Fun Days' main stage before Tolono's famous fireworks show.

"Some of the country music we play is by Alan Jackson and George Strait," frontman and guitarist Dan Koester said. "I think the older people at the Fun Days appreciate those types of artists."

Among all of the great events, Koester said his favorite is by far the final one.

"You only get to see a great fireworks show once a year," he said. "Tolono has the best one yet, and I'm so excited to be able to play for my friends and family underneath them."

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