What a difference a day can make. Rain dampened plans on Friday and Saturday for some scheduled Pekin Marigold Festival plans, but Sunday brought beautiful weather.
The city of Pekin canceled Friday Family Fun Fest. The Game Zone sponsored by Jimmy John’s was also canceled. While it was scheduled to stay open until 11 p.m. Friday, the carnival closed at 8 p.m. that day due to the rain.
Most notably missing was the traditional Pekin Marigold Parade on Saturday morning. Parade chairperson Shannon Sandoval said she and the committee hoped the rain would be taken out of the forecast and that they had back-up plans. However, the decision to cancel the parade was made just before 7 a.m. on Saturday, which gave the parade committee time to notify participants before the line-up time began.
“To our knowledge, this is the first time we canceled a parade,” she said. “Usually, we are very lucky with the weather, but this year, the forecast kept changing. I went to bed (Friday night) thinking we would not have it, (I) woke up thinking yes we would and then an hour later decided no. The radar kept showing rain moving our way. If we would have had it in the rain, it could create dangerous conditions even for spectators. This was not a single person decision. We lost quite a few entries the night before the parade. Everyone in school districts 108 and 303 pulled their entries between Friday afternoon and Friday night. We talked about postponing it when we (as a committee) met last week, but logistically, it could not change. I’m floating the idea of having the Grand Marshal and Miss Marigold ride in next year’s parade. The good news is it’s better now than we anticipated.”
Sandoval and the committee also made the decision to refund money for those who were entered in this year’s parade.
Art in the Park was also affected by the weather. Bill Fleming, Pekin Area Chamber of Commerce executive director, said 20-percent of vendors who were coming from a distance or had product that could not get wet canceled on Friday.
While the crowd on Saturday was not as large as in the past, vendor Dawn Francis of Boards and Bows said she saw steady business.
“Usually, we get busy right after the parade is over on Saturday, but since that was canceled, we started getting a steady crowd around 9:15 (a.m.),” she said. “We only have one planter left (at 1p.m.) on Saturday and we’ve sold a lot of large signs. Everyone is in fall mode.”
Peoria Limo provided shuttle service from surrounding parking lots to Art in the Park and back.
There was plenty to do for children over the weekend. Emily Schoenfelder with Tazewell County 4-H was at the Kids Experience Tent and offered a chance for children to design a rollercoaster, build it and try it out with a marble. She said she had a steady crowd on Saturday despite the weather.
The YWCA of Pekin’s Coalition for Equality also had a booth at the Kids Experience Tent. Community Outreach Director for the YWCA of Pekin Maureen Naughtin and volunteers had a craft for children.
“Our goal is always to hook into the festival theme and our mission statement,” Naughtin said. “So this year we are saying, ‘Cheers, to our differences.’ Kids can create their own smiley face emoji using a paper plate and markers. We are celebrating our differences. We haven’t seen our typical huge rush like we do when the parade ends, but we’ve been steady.”
The weather improved on Sunday, and the Pekin Marigold Festival saw a bigger crowd. Fun on the Run provided inflatables, but since it was too wet, it could not set up on Saturday. Mike Behm of Fun on the Run said his line for the inflatable slide was busy on Sunday.
The entertainment stage provided music after the outdoor worship service. Food vendors saw their lines starting as the service let out and people headed over to the Festive Food Court to get lunch. Morton couple Jeanne and Tony Rogers attended the Sunday service and said they were walking over to get an elephant ear to share like they do every year.
Michelle Bond is the Faith Baptist Christian School Food Booth Champion and said she was glad Sunday’s weather was nicer. The booth sold tenderloins, lemon shake-ups and funnel cakes.
“We didn’t do as well as last year on Saturday,” Bond said. “We’re busy (Sunday) with the lunch crowd.”
The Chalk Art Contest went on as scheduled on Sunday. There were nearly 50 entries this year, which is up from last year.
Participants paid a $10 fee for their square around the lagoon and had to finish their creations by 3:30 p.m. to be judged. There were four age categories including sixth grade and under, junior high, high school and adult. Elisabeth Nightingale won the sixth grade and under division, Elizabeth Bouchez won the junior high division, Kayla Rigney won the high school division and Charity Orza won the adult division. Mayor’s choice went to Elisabeth Nightingale. Grand Marshal’s choice was Stacy Zimmerman. Miss Marigold’s choice went to Taylor Cady. Best in theme went to Gabby Gonzalez.
Adults who were or are fans of the television series “Cheers,” which ran from 1982 until 1993, and children who are fans of Pixar films like “Toy Story” and “Cars” got a chance to see John Ratzenberger during a Q-and-A session on Sunday inside the pavilion.
One man asked if the beer he drank on set was real beer.
Ratzenberger said, “It was something else. Episodes took about 5 hours to shoot. If we drank for 5 hours….”
Another person in the crowd noted that Ratzenberger’s character Cliff never had an outfit change; he always wore his mail carrier uniform. Ratzenberger acknowledged the statement and added that Cliff’s uniform is now in the Smithsonian Institution.
Another question from a man in the audience was, “Cliff’s tag line was ‘it’s a little known fact.’ What is a little known fact about you we wouldn’t see online?”
Ratzenberger said, “Heroism makes me cry.”
After answering questions, Ratzenberger signed autographs at the celebrity tent from 2 to 4 p.m. He has a new film coming out in 2019 called “East Texas Oil.” The movie is based on a true story about two con men who stole money from widows in their quest to strike oil.
You can see photos of the 2018 Marigold Festival by clicking here.