For anyone who grew up in a small town, the week of the annual festival was as highly anticipated as Christmas. In Illinois, our typical street festivals celebrate the seasons, our heritage and communities, and, of course, food.
You definitely want to hit up as many of these as possible. Below is a list you can return to throughout the year so you don’t miss thing.
1. Wabash Ribberfest Barbecue Championship - Mt. Carmel
Enjoy spring while tasting delicious barbecue dishes made by serious pit bosses April 28-29, 2017. Non-food activities include an art exhibit, wine garden, motorcycle show, and cornhole tournament, so you can bring the whole family.
2. Carl Sandburg Days - Galesburg
Celebrate the life of Carl Sandburg with theatre performances, book readings, and various activities for children. This year's festival, running April 27-29, 2017, will also feature poetry and photo contests, authors talks, and a writer's workshop.
3. Dutch Days Festival - Fulton
Illinois loves its heritage and will celebrate the Dutch side at its annual festival being held May 6-5, 2017. Though most attend for the food, other events include a parade and various live performances as well as exposure to Dutch art, clothing, and film.
4. Mushroom Festival at Pere Marquette - Grafton
On April 23 only, enjoy live music, wine tastings, and an introduction to all things mushrooms. Many participate in the morel hunting contest as well.
5. HerrinFesta Italiana - Herrin
Running May 22-29, 2017, this carnival includes a car show, pageants and games, an art exhibit, a pet parade, and various contests.
6. Riverbend Earth Day Festival - Godfrey
Many who participate in this festival begin by hiking while picking up litter. The day, held on April 29, 2017, also features live music, fresh, local eats, crafts, and activities for kids.
7. Toledo Spring Festival - Toledo
Taking place around the city courthouse block, this annual festival runs May 18-21, 2017. You'll enjoy teen pageants, a parade, car shows, and craft booths.
8. Chocolate Fest - Long Grove
Indulge in creamy deliciousness May 19-21, 2017 at this festival celebrating all things chocolate by hosting dances, performers, and tons of games. From chocolate pie to burgers with chocolate sauce, there's no end to the food creations you'll enjoy.
9. 2 Rivers Wine Fest - Ottawa
Welcome summer by taste testing wines from over 20 Illinois wineries June 9-11, 2017 at this festive event.
10. Harvard Milk Days - Harvard
Since 1942, this festival was originally intended to celebrate local dairy farmers. It has since expanded to include a parade, rides and games, fireworks, a petting zoo, a classic car show, and an antique tractor show.
11. The World of Faeries Festival - South Elgin
Dress up in your best faerie attire and enjoy games, storytellers, and other performers August 5-6, 2017 near the river in Vasa Park. Don't forget to visit the mermaids!
12. Garlic Fest - Highwood
This is a festival of tasting. On August 16, 2017, you can try garlic ice cream, garlic cake, and garlic candy, including garlic drinks and more traditional dishes like breads, sauces, and pasta.
13. Broom Corn Festival - Arcola
Taking place September 8-10, 2017, this annual celebration includes a parade, craft booths, live entertainment, delicious food, and a tractor pull.
14. Scarecrow Fest - St. Charles
Marvel at over 100 hand-crafted "scarecrows" at this festive, Autumn event October 6-8, 2017. Visitors may vote for their favorite straw art and enjoy the carnival, a petting zoo, and an arts and crafts show.
15. The Sycamore Pumpkin Festival - Sycamore
View over 1,000 stunning decorated pumpkins entered into the annual contest. Visitors may also enjoy carnivals, craft shows, and booths from nonprofit vendors October 25-29, 2017.
What’s the best part of your local, small-town festival? Share your photos and traditions with us!