Manito’s signature annual event is set for the end of August this year.

According to Dorothy Kreiling, co-chairperson of the 2019 Manito Popcorn Festival Committee, the Manito Popcorn Festival began as a sort of homecoming celebration in the early 1970s. It became the Popcorn Festival in 1990 because Weaver Popcorn, one of the largest growers in the Midwest, has a plant located just outside of nearby Forest City. The event is also a public recognition of a statewide affinity for popcorn. This year’s festival will take place from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 at Veteran’s Park, 200 E. State St., Manito.

“When the state of Illinois recognized popcorn as the state’s favorite snack, then why not do a festival in honor of that?” said Kreiling in an email to the Pekin Daily Times.

The Popcorn Festival will feature food vendors and carnival rides. The festival committee never stops there, according to Rayeann Meeker, Popcorn Festival committee co-chairperson. Athletic competitions will include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a five-kilometer run and a one-mile run. The festival also offers a petting zoo, inflatables, a dance party, games for visitors of all ages, tractor pulls, a princess pageant, a lip sync contest and live music.

“This One’s Pink is a Pink Floyd Tribute band we are excited about,” said Meeker in an email to the Times. “There is a Veteran’s group coming with a food booth and all proceeds go to retired vets. This year, there is a $300 grand prize for the lip sync contest.”

Kreiling said the Popcorn Festival is a result of year-round planning by the committee and would not be possible without the help of volunteers showing pride in their community.

“It takes dozens (of) volunteers to set the festival up in the park and to tear it down,” she said. “Old, young, students and anyone else pitches in to help.”

Kreiling believes the festival offers something for everyone.

“It is worth the trip down to see the local entertainment and all the free stuff like pony rides and the petting zoo,” she said. “We have a small carnival and every imaginable fair food you could want.” 

For more information about the festival, visit manitopopcornfestival.com.