Saturday, September 09, 2006

Few Things More Small Town American Than

The Prime Beef Festival Parade in Monmouth comes the week after Labor Day along with the graceful Stearman Bi-plane gathering in Galesburg. It is small town Americana with a double capital "A" Folks begin staking out lawn-chair spots along Broadway by noon. Because it is small town America and not Chicago, they just put their chairs down and go back to their daily tasks confident that when they return at 4:30 or so the chairs will still be there holding their coveted spaces. Promptly at 5:00 PM a sky rocket announces the start of the parade and for the next couple of hours you are assailed with high school marching bands, church and civic floats, antique tractors, giant combines, horses, and the festival queens riding in pomp on trailered power boats. This is one of those exquisite Monmouth ironies. We are 20 miles from the Mississippi, but the boats are made here so we get queens in boats not on floats. You can continue your post-parade festivities by heading out to the park. You can check out the entries in the Prime Beef category that are penned in the airport hangars across the road, get a rib-eye sandwich or an Indian Taco at the food tents, do a twirl on the ferris wheel, and follow it up with a slam bang demolition derby. And don't miss a lemon-ade shakeup, which is a staple at most Illinois summer fairs.

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