Live from Peoria, Illinois, it’s Friday Night starring this week’s host, The Heart of Illinois Fair, with special guest stars, WGLO Radio, Ace Frehley, The Dinner Bell, Southern Cross Band plus many others and featuring the Ready For Prime Beef Player, Marty Wombacher. Now, please welcome this week’s host, The Heart of Illinois Fair!
It’s early in the evening and I thought I’d stop by the 95.5 WGLO Classic Rock tent because they’re sponsoring tonight’s show in The Opera House starring Ace Frehley. WGLO always has a variety of events and shows happening around Peoria, to keep up with them check out their website and follow them on facecrack and Twitter.
As I stepped inside I saw a familiar face here at the fair, Roxy Baker who’s a director here at HOI Fair and she introduced me to Marris, who’s the Promotions Director of WGLO.
Here’s Marris and Sarah, who’s an account executive at the station and an MBIP pal! I love the backwards Saturday Night Fever pose they’ve got going on!
The concert is still hours away, but The Opera House is open, so let’s see what’s going on inside...
Wow, Roxy sure gets around, here she is inside of The Opera House with MBIP pal, Mollee Wood, owner of Moxie’s ReSale Boutique and her friends, Adrienne and Mike complete the picture. Adrienne and Mike live in Taylorville and came into Peoria for the show. It was great to meet them!
Check out Mollee’s boots! Those are the coolest boots I’ve ever seen! They’re definitely made for walkin’! And speaking of walking I think it’s time to take a walk and...
Get a beer! And these lovely ladies are manning the beer booth in the room directly outside of the main stage area in the Opera House. From left: Lisa, Karen, Angie and Wendy.
As we hung out and had some beers, Mike showed us a couple of interesting tattoos...
He’s got an Ace Frehley tattoo on this side of his arm...
And another on the other side, very cool and nice ink artwork!
Here’s some of the other people having some beers and waiting for the show to begin.
This is Jeff and Stacy who I met while hanging around. It turns out they own a shooting range here in Peoria called Allegiant Firearms. I’ve never shot a gun outside of a BB gun and have always wanted to go to a shooting range and fire off some weapons. Jeff and Stacy said I’m more than welcome to stop by, so stay tuned for that, it should be a fun post!
Roger came up and said he’s been following my blogs since the 365 bar crawl! That really means a lot to me and I truly appreciate anyone who’s stuck with me that long! A big MBIP thank you to Roger, wonderful to meet him!
Well this caused me to do a double take, I thought Ace had appeared early, but it turns out it’s Ace super fan, Danny decked out in a tribute outfit. Nice!
The place is starting to fill up. The opening act is Ray Long and The Highway 61 Band and then Ace Frehley is going to be on around 9PM. Sadly I got a message about a minute after this photo was taken and had to take off for a while to go help someone out in an emergency situation. So we’ll return after this brief intermission.
Okay, we’re back and as you can see the sun is setting on Expo Gardens, the home of The Heart of Illinois Fair!
I found out that Ace is going to be hitting the stage for about a half an hour, so I thought this would be a good time to get some dinner.
I thought for an appetizer, we’d get a corn dog. It’s just the rules at the fair, you gotta have a corn dog!
And slather that baby up with, mustard! Delicious! Okay time for the main course!
The fair is known for their deep-fried food and other sweet specialties that the kids know and love. There’s cheese dogs, funnel cakes, pizza, caramel apples, more funnel cakes, nachos, deep fried oreos and twinkies and even more funnel cakes just for the hell of it. I had a bunch of this stuff the other night and while it’s good, it goes a long way. I was on the lookout for some real adult food when I happened to wander by...
The Dinner Bell, this place rang a bell with me and it’s not just due to their name, we had some fantastic food served up by a food truck of the same name last summer at the Heart of Illinois BBQ and Bluegrass Festival, could this be the same people?
It turns out it is indeed the same people from last summer’s BBQ festival and check out the meat sizzling on their grill, that looks and smells fantastic! I think we’ve found tonight’s dinner destination!
Here’s owner and the Executive Chef of The Dinner Bell, Sha, chopping off some meat from a smoked turkey leg, fresh off of the grill.
Tonight’s dinner is ready to eat and here’s Jess and Sha presenting it. They’re both really nice people and you should definitely seek them out when you come out to the fair this year. It’s a nice break from the treadional deep-fried foods on the midway.
I got the aforementioned smoked turkey leg along with a half rack of ribs and the meal comes with garlic toast and coleslaw. It looks and smells divine!
The turkey leg is crispy on the outside and juicy and savory on the inside. Smoky, barbecue goodness!
The coleslaw was cool and crunchy and a nice palate cleanser before I tucked into...
The half rack of ribs. The succulent and smoky meat is fall of the bone tender on these and I love their sauce, just the right amount of sweet, heat and tanginess. Delicious and you can read more about it in the review below.
Okay, I think it’s just about showtime, let’s check back into the Opera House!
The timing is perfect, here’s WGLO on-air personalities, Matt “Meatsauce” Hall and Tim Ylinen introducing...
Tonight’s headliner at the HOI Fair, Ace Frehley!
Ace was a little late, but made up for it with an enthusiastic 90 minute show.
Here he is sharing vocals with the bass player, Ace sings most of the songs, but all of the band had their chance at a lead vocal during the show.
Here’s a shot of the stage from the back of The Opera House.
Midway through the show Ace took off his jacket to show a t-shirt custom-made for the next song...
My favorite Ace/KISS song, “New York Groove.”
The crowd loved the show and gave Ace and the band a standing ovation after the last song was played. Well, to be honest, there were no chairs, so a standing ovation was really the only option. But it would’ve happened even with chairs, I’m sure!
After the show, with some help from WGLO we were able to wander back to the tour bus and...
Get a shot with Ace! As you can see, he’s simply thrilled to meet and greet us!
As I was heading off to the parking lot, I heard some music coming from the beer tent and went to investigate...
I went in and found my old pals, the Southern Cross Band playing! This was a very nice surprise, I love these guys!
Even though it was late at night and the fair was shutting down, they still had a decent crowd out there dancing!
The last time we saw Southern Cross was at Fitz Inn and you can check that post out here. These guys are a fabulous band who’s set list spans genres from Johnny Cash to Lynyrd Skynrd to AC/DC and everyone in between!
And look who’s out on the dance floor, three of the Axe Women, these women spent all day logrolling and throwing axes and they still have the energy to be dancing at midnight at the fair! I love it, a perfect way to end the evening! Thanks to everyone from The HOI Fair and 95.5 WGLO Classic Rock Radio for help and hospitality for the evening and we’ll see you all tomorrow!
I skipped the usual Fair bill of fare and had my Friday night meal at the Dinner Bell, which stands out for not having the usual loud, garish, retina-burning lights attached to its food stand. They have a simple yet elegant space that they’ve carved out for themselves on the midway and their grill serves up some real tasty meals.
I got the smoked Turkey leg and a half rack of ribs and both were tender, succulent and fall off the bone tender. The sauce on the ribs is homemade and really has a nice combination of smoky and sweet with some spices and heat also coming into play. The garlic toast and crunchy cole slaw were an added bonus! If you come to the Fair, I suggest letting your kids eat the Funnel Cakes, cheese dogs, cotton candy and pizza while you sit down and have some adult-styled food at The Dinner Bell. For my money, it’s the best food at the fair!
Three and a half Galloping Gourmets—Great BBQ and Sha and Jess are quick with the food, friendliness and hospitality! Check out their contact information below.