The Commercial-News, Danville, IL

March 2, 2014

Jaycees outline changes for festival

The Commercial-News

---- — HOOPESTON — Hoopeston Jaycees conducted a public forum last week for the National Sweetcorn Festival at Ira Owen Kreager American Legion Post 384 as an informational and brainstorming meeting. Input from the community in attendance was a large part of the forum.

“Several items have been rearranged in the schedule,” said Brad Hardcastle, festival chairman, “and some new items added. The schedule is tentative right now.”

One big change for the National Sweetcorn Festival is that the beer tent returns to the Jaycee Shelter this year. The Jaycees are working on a mix of bands to complement all generations, to bring the older generation back as well as the younger ones. The discussion of a mechanical bull with a country and western band was suggested and possibly a blues band to add a better mix of bands.

In the annex, a small beer garden will replace the beer tent for patrons to enjoy the Demo Derby on Saturday and Sunday evenings in a more relaxing setting. There also was a hint that the truck/tractor pull could see a revival in the annex Friday night. The Jaycees are in the process now of trying to work out details for its debut, according to Hardcastle.

“There will definitely be something there Friday (in the annex),” Hardcastle said.

On Saturday and Sunday, the Hoopeston Area High School FFA Barn Yard will replace the petting zoo and pony rides. The Barn Yard also could be tentatively included in Monday’s schedule, according to Hardcastle.

He added the Jaycees now have a mobile stage that will be set up near the old petting zoo area for live entertainment, beginning with the Sweet Adelines at 2 p.m. Saturday afternoon, followed by Doc Ashton and the Root Canals later that same afternoon. The stage is a full-sized stage, he said.

The Jaycees’ souvenir stand will be located in the main tent on the midway for better access to the Sweetcorn Festival souvenirs by patrons. Two types of T-shirts will be available, as well as possible generic shirts without a date or a collared generic shirt with a pocket, sweatshirts and other items.

Ashley Dobkins, souvenir chairman, said this was much better in the midway tent than people trying to find the building with the souvenirs.

This year Sunday Gospel in the Park will return with State of Grace performing at 3 p.m. on the mobile stage and The Allens performance later that afternoon.

Mark’s Ark will perform on stage Monday afternoon with animals that young children can touch during the show such as a snake, and Rob Thompson’s Magic Show will perform several times Monday afternoon.

Items also discussed were the Pleasure Rider’s Motor Cross from Georgetown as an event during the festival. Jeremy Dobkins, Jaycee president, said he visited with the Pleasure Riders and discussed them as a possible event if the truck/tractor pull was not available. It was suggested by several in the audience to add the motor cross on the schedule as well as the truck/tractor pull.

Other suggestions were a professional juggler, a talent show, a golf tournament after the fishing derby or a kids tractor pull or other games on the tennis court for kids plus the availability of the Splash Pool that could be utilized during the festival. The Jaycees, said Hardcastle, will bid the photos for Miss Hoopeston out this year as well as several other things to make the festival more economically sound.

“We have a pretty new crew of people this year,” said Hardcastle, “and are trying to bring back the glory that was us.”

The schedule should to be completed and available by July 1.