Haunted House Organizers Seek Actors

Haunted House Organizers Seek Actors

September 19 – Organizers of the largest haunted house in Central Illinois invite interested performers to attend an informational meeting Thursday in the former Sears location at Hickory Point Mall.

The “Scream Haunted House” will feature 10,000 square feet of fright opening October 5. Produced by Creatures of the Night, it serves as a fundraiser for Decatur Celebration, Inc.

“Just like the Decatur Celebration, The Scream Haunted House is family-friendly,” said producer/director Lori Sturgill. “Our volunteers include many adults with their teenage kids having a great time together in a fun and safe environment.”

Thursday’s meeting for “outgoing and fun-loving” people 16 and older begins at 7 p.m. In addition to performance roles, organizers also need help with costume design and makeup application.

The haunted house will run Fridays and Saturdays in October, as well as Halloween. It will feature 25 scenes, a vortex tunnel, a grave crawl and a dark maze inside the vacated department store. Tickets are $12.

Organizers Tout Big Crowds, Popular Food Stands

Organizers Tout Big Crowds, Popular Food Stands

August 6 – The final numbers will take some time to complete, but organizers of the Decatur Celebration hope large crowds for the major acts will result in strong attendance figures.

“I definitely don’t guess,” said director/producer Lori Sturgill. “However, I was really impressed with the crowds at both the T.I. show and the Crowder show. The Gretchen Wilson crowd was huge as well, and Daughtry.”

Sturgill said it will take some time before all the pre-sales, online sales and point of entry sales can be fully determined.

“It’s not something we can get a quick number on, so it will take us a little time to pull in all the sales and total everything up,” she said.

Sturgill said that many of the food offerings proved quite popular, noting the “tat-chos” sold out every night. The cookie ice cream sandwiches, jar bar pineapples, turkey ribs and soba noodles were big hits.

“We’re definitely a food festival,” she said. “I keep telling people we were a food truck festival before that was cool.”

While the Celebration dodged precipitation, high temperatures did suppress the daytime crowds.

“It’s tough to get people to come out during the day when it’s in the 90s and humid,” said Sturgill. “If it’s hot and it’s humid, people wait until later in the day to come out. We’re so susceptible to the weather like any other outdoor event.”

Winning wristbands: The nightly winning numbers for the Country Financial Band Together Wristband $1,000 drawings were: Friday – #38708; Saturday – #68145; Sunday – #63031.

Prizes must be claimed by August 15. Winners must show ticket stubs and a state photo ID. For questions, call 217-423-4222.

Crews Prepared to Jump On Celebration Cleanup

Crews Prepared to Jump On Celebration Cleanup

August 5 – Once the last act has left the stage and the Decatur Celebration crowd has cleared the grounds, the task of getting downtown back to business gets underway.

“As soon as it’s done, the process begins,” said Spike Queary, the Celebration’s operations manager. Queary estimated he will have about 50 to 60 volunteers helping break everything down.

“As soon as everything is done and we get everybody safely off the streets, make sure the grounds are safe, then we’ll open the barricades up,” he said. “At that point, vendors can come in and start breaking their stuff down.

“We’ll start breaking all of our stuff down, beverage booths, ticket booths. The city’s also in there and they start part of their cleanup as far as getting all the trash.”

Queary said the crews will have everything cleared from downtown by around 2 or 3 a.m. Monday, and have everything returned to the storage facility by 8 or 9 o’clock. He said that the Decatur Police Department will be in charge of reopening the roads, but that should happen by around 4 or 5 a.m.

“Sometimes it’s a little bit sooner,” he said. “It sometimes depends on what kind of progress we make.”

Nichols Wins Illinois Festival Queen Pageant

Nichols Wins Illinois Festival Queen Pageant

August 5 – After being crowned the Miss Macon County Junior Miss in 2015, Kylie Nichols got to experience the thrill of winning a pageant for a second time.

Nichols, a senior-to-be at Mt. Zion High School, was chosen as the Miss Illinois Festival Queen at Sunday’s pageant at the Decatur Civic Center during the Decatur Celebration. Nichols said she’s eager to continue working with director Melissa Muirheid.

“I was so excited,” Nichols said of hearing her name announced. “I was like ‘yes, I get to do this again and finish it off with Melissa.’ It’s so much fun and I’m so excited for the year.”

Nichols, a competitive cheerleader interested in becoming an orthodontist, joined Breanna Johnson and Hannah Bowers as candidates in the Queen age group (17-22).

Julia Hildebrandt won the Junior Miss (14-16) crown, with Madison Miller as runner-up. Brooklyn Syrcle claimed the Pre-Teen (10-13) honor as Annabelle Click was first runner-up and Ella Chupp was second.

Seven girls participated in the Princess division (5-9), with all of them receiving tiaras.

Another Year, Another Round of Contestants in the Celebration 365 Contest

Another Year, Another Round of Contestants in the Celebration 365 Contest

August 5 – After a reverse drawing Thursday evening, Krystal Sturgeon emerged victorious in the first ever Land of Lincoln Credit Union, #Celebration365 Contest presented by NowDecatur.com. She claimed the $1,000 Grand Prize, along with a pair of #DC18 VIP wristbands for this year’s festival.

Sunday afternoon, a new class of 20 finalists put on their wristbands which they will wear for the next year, all leading up to the 2019 festival. Bryan Hedenberg, one of the new contestants, says he’s a little paranoid about jumping in to the contest but is looking forward to the challenge.

The next batch of candidates were chosen for the competition by emailing Aric Lee of NowDecatur.com that they wanted to enter, and all of the contestants were chosen through a random drawing.

The new round of competitors include: Brian Bridges, Stephanie Britton, Beth Garner, Cory Garner, Bryan Hedenberg, Alisha Henderson, Kim Hicks, Jaimie Lane, Josh Mahon, Laura Mahon, Andi McCoy, Ashley Offermann, Hollie Peckert, Kyle Phillips, Ryan Pritts, Mary Beth Scott, Zach Stortzum, Trisha Swartz, Jonathan White, and Kurt Younghouse.

The ultimate winner will receive a $1,000 Grand Prize from Land of Lincoln Credit Union and a Decatur Celebration VIP Package for the 2019 festival.

Battle of the Bands Crowns a Champion at the Decatur Celebration

Battle of the Bands Crowns a Champion at the Decatur Celebration

August 5 – And then there were 2. After opening the competition with 13 bands, the final 2 competitors in the Blue Rock Record “Battle of the Bands” competition hit the North Street stage Sunday afternoon at the Decatur Celebration.

After the popular vote and the judges vote, “Lunar Jive Machine” and “Chocolate In Your Pocket” battled it out for a chance to win $800 cash, 5 hours of studio time at Blue Rock Record at Heroic Age Studios, and the opportunity to open for Sunday night’s headliner “Daughtry” at the Celebration.

In spite of the Sunday afternoon heat, a nice crowd of local supporters turned out to cheer on their favorites. After a coin toss to determine who would lead off, “Lunar Jive Machine” hit the stage with a solid mix of cover songs. The band features a variety of Decatur music scene veterans including Ted Agee, Vocals; Ryan Brimm, Bass; Chris Lourash, Guitar; Jim McNeely, Saxophone; Josh Patterson, Drums; and Brandon Pilger, Guitar.

“Chocolate In Your Pocket” hit the stage next with a full set of solid all original songs that had their supporters in the crowd cheering. The band consists of young local talent including Cole Burnick, Guitar; Trace Davidson, Drums; Alex Erickson, Vocals; and Nick Scarpinato, Bass.

The fans had the final say on determining the winner by voting through the City Scout App, and when all was said and done, “Lunar Jive Machine” came out on top, and will open for Daughtry Sunday night on the Show Stage at the Decatur Celebration starting at 6:15.

Daughtry Gets Final Day Show Stage Spotlight

Daughtry Gets Final Day Show Stage Spotlight

August 5 – Rock band Daughtry will deliver the final act of this year’s Decatur Celebration with an 8 p.m. performance Sunday on the Show Stage.

Fronted by namesake singer and former American Idol finalist Chris Daughtry, the band produced five Top 20 singles including the platinum hits “It’s Not Over” and “Home.” The band’s fifth album “Cage to Rattle” was released last week.

Sunday’s other headlining acts include the Jeremiah Johnson Band playing two sets of southern rock and blues on the Funfest Stage (6:15, 8:15), and Grammy-nominated singer/songwriter Crowder on the Christian Stage (6:45).

Preceding Daughtry on the Show Stage will be the winner of the BlueRock Record Battle of the Bands contest (5:30), the Josh Holland Band (6:30), and a 50/50 Raffle and a third Country Financial $1,000 drawing (7:45). The Battle of the Bands finals will be held at 11 a.m. on the North Street Stage.

The earlier shows on the Funfest Stage feature Marquise Knox (2 p.m.) and William Marsala (4 p.m.), while Jeff Quick will take the Christian Stage for a pair of shows before Crowder (4, 5:45).

The Central Park Stage will feature Rock of Ages (1 p.m., 3 p.m.) and Dreaming in Colour (8:15), while the Imagine That Band will play the first of its three shows on the North Street stage at 4 o’clock. NCR will play three shows of modern country and classic rock on the Cabaret Stage (3, 5, 7), while the Prairie Street Stage features singer/songwriter Ashley Riley (noon, 2) and disco, funk, rock and pop from The Collective Band (4, 6, 8).

Also Sunday, the Miss Illinois Festival Pageant will be held at 2 p.m. in the Decatur Civic Center and the double-elimination Central Illinois Bags Bash tournament will be held from 1-5 p.m. on the Civic Center grass.

Celebration Garden Offers Upscale Brews and Wines

Celebration Garden Offers Upscale Brews and Wines

August 2, 2019 – Connoisseurs of specialty brews and wines from around Illinois attending the Decatur Celebration have plenty of options at their discretion in the Wine and Craft Beer Garden.

Now in its _____ year, the garden remains at it’s new home at northwest corner of William and Water near the Cabaret Stage.

Guests can buy 10 wine-tasting tickets for $10, otherwise all drinks are $5 per glass. Patrons may also buy wine by a bottle directly from the winery. The garden will be open until 10 p.m. Saturday, then from noon until 8 o’clock on Sunday.

Beer from ____ Wine from ______.

Quote from craft

Niemerg said his stand was offering sangria and as many as 12 varietals. Niemerg was one of seven wine booths in the garden, while the seven craft beer stands included Decatur’s own Door 4 Brewing and Decatur Brew Works.

“Today has been a really good day for us,” said Deion Corley of Door 4. “Yesterday was awesome, once we beat the heat. We were pouring beer like crazy.”

Corley said that while the beer industry can be competitive, there’s a camaraderie among craft brewers.

“It’s the industry, man; it’s awesome,” he said. “All the breweries here today are super-cool dudes and we’ve had a good time pouring beer with them.”

The other wineries in the garden are: West of Wise (Petersburg), Vahling Vineyards (Stewardson), Kite Hill Vineyards (Carbondale), Fox Creek Vineyards (Olney), Hopewell Winery (Rockport), and Wild Blossom Meadery and Winery (Chicago).

The other craft beer stands are: Golden Fox (Illiopolis), Blind Pig (Champaign), White Oak (Normal), Keg Grove (Bloomington) and 1905 Brewing Company (Assumption).


Greer, Braeuninger Win Top Prizes in Adorable Baby Contest

Greer, Braeuninger Win Top Prizes in Adorable Baby Contest

August 4 – A veteran of the Decatur Celebration Adorable Baby Contest, Ashton Greer showed his experience in this year’s event Saturday.

Ashton and Daisy Braeuninger, both of Decatur, were judged as the overall Grand Supreme winners during the contest held on the Central Park Stage. They were among the 10 age-division winners.

Introduced as a “pro at this,” Ashton flashed a broad smile and waved to the crowd in winning the Petite Mister category for 3-year-old boys. He was accompanied by his mother, Ashlee Greer. Joined by her parents Drake and Jessica Braeuninger, Daisy was selected in the Tiny Tot Miss category for 2-year-old girls

Other division winners were: Ja’Lyah Honerable (Infant Miss, 0-5 months), Treasure Gogins (Baby Miss, 6-11 months), A’Hayva Bradford (Tiny Miss, 1-year), Austyn Duncheon (Mini Miss, 4-years), Thomas Blair (Infant Mister, 0-5 months), Isaac Ramos (Baby Mister, 6-11 months), Jaxon Sharp (Tiny Mister, 1-year) and Jeremiah Milton (Tiny Tot Mister, 2-years). The Petite Miss and Mini Mister categories had no entries.

Returning Champ Sets Another Record in the Heinkel’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

Returning Champ Sets Another Record in the Heinkel’s Hot Dog Eating Contest

August 4 – Now in its 7th year, the Heinkel’s Hot dog Eating Contest took over the Funfest Stage Saturday afternoon at the 2018 Decatur Celebration. Before the competition kicked off, emcee Aric Lee introduced Wes Heinkel of Heinkel’s Packing Company who paid tribute to his Grandfather, Erwin Heinkel. He reminded the crowd to live the way their family patriarch always said, “Keep laughing, keep smiling”.

This was the first year there were no pre-competition qualifying contests and the eaters signed up the day of the competition.

The 10 minute contest kicked off, with Brandon “Da’ Garbage Disposal” Clark of Cahokia, last year’s record setting champion with 27 weiners consumed, cruising to an early lead eating 22 wieners by the 5 minute mark. In the end, “Da’ Garbage Disposal” cruised to an easy victory, and set a new Heinkel’s Hot Dog Eating Contest record by devouring 33 wieners in 10 minutes.

Your top 3 finishers are as follows:

1st Brandon “Da’ Garbage Disposal” Clark, Cahokia, Illinois. Winner of $500 and 4 St. Louis Cardinals Tickets

2nd Kyle “The Hammer” Hanner of St. Louis, Missouri. Winner of $250 and a $100 meat bundle from Heinkel’s Packing Company.

3rd Jonathan “Big Jon” Offerman, of Decatur, Illinois. Winner of $100 and a $50 meat bundle from Heinkel’s Packing Company.