Illinois Dining March 21, 2017
The Bagel Capital Of The World Is Right Here In Illinois
Are you surprised that an Illinois town calls itself the “Bagel Capital of the World”? We were, too. But if you take a closer look at the way Mattoon, Illinois celebrates this baked treat, you can see why. The residents of the town go to great lengths to recognize the part that bagels play in their lives and local economy. Here’s why we think they deserve the title:
It all started in 1986, when the Lender's Bagels factory opened in Mattoon.
The company was originally based in Connecticut, but opened an additional factory in Illinois shortly after it was purchased by Kraft Foods. It was exciting for residents, because it brought about 150 jobs to town.
Mattoon is now home to the only Lender's Bagels factory still in operation.
It's the oldest bagel brand in America, and it is considered the pioneer of frozen bagels. The company's sales are said to surpass $70 million each year, which makes locals proud!
Once Lender's settled into the town in the late 1980's, a fun tradition began.
When the factory opened, original owner Murray Lender held a bagel breakfast for the residents. It has since ballooned into a week-long festival celebrating all things bagels.
The festival includes carnival rides, bagel-themed events, concerts, and more.
Bagelfest is held each July, and it is truly the highlight of the summer in Mattoon. Performers like Travis Tritt and Zac Brown Band have performed in the past.
Sports enthusiasts get in on the bagel-loving, too.
Join in on the local YMCA's Run for the Bagel or watch the teams battle for glory during the Bagelfest Softball Tournament. The best part is going to the Big Bagel Breakfast when you're finished!
The events culminate in a parade.
Winners of the Miss Bagelfest pageant lead the way, with marching bands and floats following. It's a wonderful way to bring the entire town together.
Bagelfest is held each year during the third week of July. Learn more about the festival
If you want even more fun festival experiences,
These 8 Unique Festivals in Illinois Are Something Everyone Should Experience Once.