The Heart of Illinois Fair opens its gates today at 4PM at Expo Gardens. This is a Peoria tradition that began 65 years ago. Last night they had a press party with free beer and MBIP was invited. And yes, you read right, they had free beer there! So what are we waiting for, let’s make tracks to Expo Gardens already!
Along with the invitation I was sent a name badge. So in true wise-ass MBIP form, I thought I'd pull a real-life Twittergate.
There's Expo Gardens up ahead...
Hey, check it out, they must have a psychic on their board of directors!
It certainly looks festive here!
I thought before we hit the beer tent we'd wander down and check out the midway and some of the attractions, I've never been able to take a look at the fair before it starts, so this is pretty cool.
Here's the midway, it looks weird without any people or carnies barking at you, let's go take a gander at it.
Corn Dogs and Lemonade shake-ups, two staples of the HOI Fair!
And of course no fair is complete without the Tilt-A-Whirl.
And now, ladies and gentlemen, courtesy of The House of Rock, we now present you with...
Now that everyone can get a photo in a nanosecond on their phone, I'm wondering how these folks will do.
I bet this is a fun ride, but i have two words for whoever decided to use Comic Sans Font for the logo: Stop it!
Check it out, you have a chance of winning MBIP contributor Mike Foster here.
Okay, It's starting to get a little batty out here, time for...
As I enter I'm greeted by Todd in full fair regalia. Todd's the announcer for this year's tractor pull and it's his tenth year doing this duty.
Free beer straight ahead!
And the first beer is served up by Matt, who's modeling a brand new Knights of Columbus t-shirt, very nice!
And check it out, the city seems to have lightened up, I made it through the gates and got a beer with my bootleg Mayor badge and I haven't even been arrested! Good times!
Let's wander around and see if we can find any familiar faces in the crowd.
Here's Greg, who we last saw at a SNC episode at The Last Chance.
Sammy Joseph! I haven't seen this guy in years, we both went to high school together and it was great to see him again, even though he blinked for this photo.
I just met this woman and I believe she's Matt's sister named, Barb. Of course I didn't write this down, so I could be totally wrong, feel free to leave a comment if I am. And, by the way, this will kind of drive me nuts all day today. UPDATE: I just learned through Matt on facecrack that her name is Bonnie! At least I had the first initial right! Thanks, Matt!
There's Bobby Spears on one side of the beer stand and Steve on the other, cheers guys!
There's WWCT's "Morning Blend" host, Marc Alghini.
Roxy's on the board of directors at the fair and here she is in her best Home Shopping Network pose modeling a HOI beer koozie.
Roxie introduced me to these three pretty women, Michelle, Alissa and Andrea. They're part of a group of women from Maine known collectively as, "The Axe Women." They're performing at the fair all week and you can read about what they do at their website and on facecrack. They were really nice and fun to talk to, but I was sad Joe Waugh wasn't there to meet them and trade ax stories with them. Check out the Entertainment Schedule to see when they're performing.
As the party was winding down I had one last beer with Greg and Roxy. I first met these two when they came to the last day celebration for my 365 Bars blog at Mike's Tavern. Scroll down here and see if you can find them.
MBIP pal, Deb from Relics is on the board of directors this year at the fair and while she refuses to let me take her picture, she did get me four free tickets to give out. So the first person who says, "I want those tickets!" in the comments section gets them. Note: I won't be able to drop them off at the fair till tomorrow afternoon, so whoever wins them can pick them up then. Okay, we'll see you all tomorrow...and hey, let's be careful out there!
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