Summer is festival time in Illinois. That’s the time for towns across the central swath of the state to pull together and pack in the locals and tourists alike.
Since towns don’t have a monopoly on crops grown on the premises, you’re likely to find a little duplication. If you’re a strawberry fan, there’s the Elmwood Strawberry Festival, always held on the first Saturday in June. But strawberries are also the theme for festivals in Arthur, Kankakee, Long Grove and Tiskilwa.
This is the corn belt, after all, so while most of the maize you see from the roadside isn’t for human consumption, there are sweet corn festivals aplenty in these parts, including in Minier and Normal.
Meanwhile, there’s plenty to savor right here in Peoria. Some 30 events, including a trio of three-day festivals and a pair of two-day festivals, will take place on the banks of the Illinois River in Downtown Peoria from late May through the end of September, said Nick Conrad, supervisor of riverfront events for the Peoria Park District.
The biggest crowd can be expected for the Carle Health Red, White and Boom fireworks display on July 4 but the Peoria Irish Fest and Oktoberfest will each draw from 5,000 to 8,000 people over the course of their three-day runs, said Conrad.
“The longest-running festival on the Peoria riverfront is the Peoria Blues and Heritage Festival, which dates back to the early 1990s,” he said.
There’s also a new three-day festival this year — Park-A-Palooza — to be held June 8-10 complete with concert, bounce house (the world’s biggest) and drone light show, said Conrad.
Here is a list of summertime and early autumn festivals in central Illinois:
WASHINGTON GOOD NEIGHBOR DAYS
MAY 31-JUNE 4
1800 Washington Road (John Bearce lot)
Carnival rides, music events, 5K race, nightly fireworks, etc.
ELMWOOD STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL
JUNE 3, 2023
Central Park, Main and Magnolia, Elmwood
Crafters, vendors, local entertainers, a 5K color run/walk and good food including lots of strawberry desserts.
CANTON ART ON MAIN FINE ART FESTIVAL
JUNE 3-4, 2023
Jones Park, Canton
View and purchase original art from some of the Midwest’s best artists, plus food, local music and wine.
JUNE 2-3, 2023
Redbird Arena and Horton Field House, Normal
Corvette, Camaro and other car enthusiasts are invited to two days of automotive excitement including a road tour, judging, vendors, dealer displays and a gala reception.
TREMONT TURKEY FESTIVAL
JUNE 9-11, 2023
Community Park (on Route 9)
Turkey is a big part of this festival, which traces its roots back 57 years. In addition, enjoy entertainment, family activities, the Miss Tremont Pageant, carnival rides, tractor pulls, a parade and more.
JUNE 10, 2023
Hickory Grove Park, Dunlap
CHILLICOTHE DAYS CARNIVAL
JUNE 14-17, 2023
City Park, Downtown Chillicothe
Kick off summer with carnival rides, games, food, live music and entertainment, a talent show, Mr. Chillicothe contest and more.
JUNE 17, 2023
Carver Center, John H. Gwynn Jr. Park
Juneteenth, which commemorates the emancipation of slaves in the U.S., was first recognized as a federal holiday in 2021 and the Juneteenth Fest marks the occasion.
OLD SETTLER’S DAYS MACOMB HERITAGE DAYS
JUNE 21-24, 2023
Metamora Village Square
A reunion, a family tradition, a time to gather and enjoy being part of a community. Old Settler’s Days is food, vendors, carnival rides and live music every night near the historic Metamora Courthouse.
MACOMB HERITAGE DAYS
Macomb Municipal Airport
Bands, food and a carnival plus a Sunday pancake breakfast.
ILLINOIS SHAKESPEARE FESTIVAL
JUNE, JULY, AUGUST 2023
Multiple venues, Bloomington
Celebrate the Bard with performances, educational programs and community events throughout the summer. This year’s works include “The Comedy of Errors,” “The Book of Will” by Lauren Gunderson and “The Tempest.”
JULY 1, 2023
Hickory Grove Park, Dunlap
GLEN OAK PARK FIREWORKS
JULY 3, 2023
Glen Oak Park, Peoria
CARLE HEALTH RED, WHITE AND BOOM!
JULY 4, 2023
Peoria and East Peoria riverfronts
The area’s largest annual event attracts up to 200,000 to the Peoria and East Peoria riverfronts for a huge fireworks display and all-day celebration.
JULY 13-15, 2023
Veteran’s Park and other Mackinaw locations
A hometown festival with something for everyone, including a parade, carnival rides, tractor pull, ribeye sandwich dinner, 5K run/walk, Little Miss and Mr. Mack-A-Fest.
RIVER CITY PRIDE FESTIVAL
JULY 15, 2023
Sponsored by Peoria Proud, the event is open to all and includes music, food, vendors and fun.
HEART OF ILLINOIS FAIR
JULY 18-22, 2023
Expo Gardens, Peoria
The Heart of Illinois Fair is an annual fair featuring livestock competitions, rides, concessions, motor contests and concerts. A Peoria tradition since 1949.
FIESTA EN EL RIO
JULY 28, 2023
An unforgettable night of celebrating Hispanic heritage through music, dance, food and fun.
KICKAPOO CREEK FESTIVAL
AUGUST 11-13, 2023
Wildlife Prairie Park, Hanna City
Free workshops, fishing, food, free camping, a bonfire and activities promoting conservation of the Kickapoo Creek watershed.
MINIER CORN DAZE
JULY 29-30, 2023
School Park, Minier
All the sweet corn you can eat, plus a softball tourney, Fire Department water fight, vendors, lawn tractor pull, car show, live music, entertainers, vendors and events for the whole family.
RIVER CITY SOULFEST
The Peoria Park District presents the original celebration of soul and R&B music on the Peoria riverfront.
AUGUST 5, 2023
Hickory Grove Park, Dunlap
OZ FESTIVAL ILLINOIS
AUGUST 12, 2023
Butler Haynes Park, Mapleton
Follow the yellow brick road to Mapleton, where you will find the most fun this side of the rainbow.
AUGUST 13, 2023
Featuring live music, authentic Indian cuisine, and traditional Indian dancing.
PEORIA IRISH FEST
AUGUST 25–27, 2023
Sponsored by St. Patrick’s Society of Peoria, enjoy Celtic fun for everyone with Irish music, dance, culture, food, beer, whiskey tasting, highland games and kids’ activities.
BALLOONS OVER 66 FESTIVAL
AUGUST 25-27, 2023
Hot air balloons are launched at various locations throughout Lincoln. Saturday concludes with a Balloon Glow as tethered balloons light up the sky.
SWEET CORN CIRCUS
AUGUST 26-27, 2023
Formerly the Sweet Corn Blues Festival, the updated event will feature lots of sweet corn, vendors, crafters and performances by ISU’s Gamma Phi Circus acrobatic troupe.
Peoria Heights Sesquicentennial Celebration
SEPTEMBER 7-9, 2023
Downtown Peoria Heights, Tower Park
The Village of Peoria Heights celebrates its 125th birthday with its annual Taste of the Heights, a classic car show, artisan market, kids’ play area and live music, among other festivities
SEPTEMBER 7-10, 2023.
This festival honors the Rev. Owen Lovejoy and his contributions to the nation’s history. The “homestead” is his former residence, which is on the National Register. The event features a parade, carnival rides, food, merchants and live entertainment.
PEKIN MARIGOLD FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 7-10, 2023
Mineral Springs Park, Pekin
In the Marigold Capital of the World, enjoy food, music, a medallion hunt, Miss Marigold Pageant, parade and plenty of fun for the whole family.
MORTON PUMPKIN FESTIVAL
SEPTEMBER 13-16, 2023
Downtown Morton and Jefferson School grounds
Join in the celebration of all things pumpkin with food, entertainment, carnival rides, parade, craft sale, 5K run/walk and much more.
SEPTEMBER 15-17, 2023
A Peoria take on the traditional Munich celebration features plenty of German food, beer, music, culture and customs.
PEORIA ART GUILD FINE ART FAIR
SEPTEMBER 23-24, 2023
One of the oldest art fairs in the country, with a showcase of quality art from national and regional artists, music, food and hands-on activities for kids and adults.
SPOON RIVER VALLEY SCENIC DRIVE
OCTOBER 7-8, OCTOBER 14-15, 2023
Multiple communities in Fulton and Peoria counties
This far-flung celebration features two weekends of art, crafts, collectibles, antiques, food, entertainment, re-enactments and activities across dozens of communities.