Festivals and celebrations to warm Midwest’s summer months

Tulip Festival in Pella, Iowa

Summer means lots of festivals and special events. Most communities have music and art festivals. However, we have learned that our Midwestern brethren celebrate a lot of different things.

The Midwestern summer season kicks off with a somber observance. Springfield, Illinois, will be the site of the 150th observance of the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln. Lincoln called Springfield home prior to his election in 1860, and planned to retire there after his second term.

Lincoln Presidential Museum and Library in Springfield, IL

Instead, his final trip “home” was to be interred. Several cities hosted funeral services along the 1700-mile trek through seven states. His final resting place came in Springfield on May 4, 1865.

Today, Springfield will be the last city to host ceremonies recognizing the 150th anniversary of Lincoln’s assassination. The events take place May 1-3.

Next up on the Midwest festival tour is Pella, Iowa. The central Iowa community will celebrate its Dutch heritage with Tulip Time Festival May 7-9. Parades, town and attraction tours, and tulips highlight the events. We visited its Dutch sister Orange City, Iowa, a few years ago and checked out its tulip festival. I’m sure Pella’s will be an outstanding event.

Youth street dance during Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival.
Youth street dance during Orange City, Iowa, Tulip Festival.

Hendricks County in Danbury, Indiana, will celebrate Mayberry in the Midwest May 15-17. Maggie Peterson, who portrayed Charlene Darling on six episodes of the “Andy Griffith Show,” will perform on stage in a concert.

Karen Knotts – daughter of the later actor Don Knotts – will share hilarious stories about her famous dad.

An interesting attraction will be a police squad car competition.

Memorial Day weekend will be the kickoff of Loessfest in Council Bluffs, Iowa. Classic Rock band Chicago will highlight the weekend with a free concert at Tom Hanafan’s River Edge Park, on the Iowa side of the Bob Kerrey Pedestrian Bridge.

Loessfest in Council Bluffs, Iowa

The nine-day festival will feature more concerts, and a fireworks show featuring the Omaha Symphony.

Metropolis, Illinois, will toss aside any kryptonite that may be in town and again welcome the Man of Steel during its Superman Celebration June 11-13. The schedule will be released sometime in May.

Superman in Metropolis, IL

Omaha will be Ground Zero June 13-23/24, as eight teams battle for the national title in college baseball. While the College World Series games are often sold out, fans can take part in Fan Fest. We’ve gone to Fan Fest the past couple of years. People can take part in some of the games and competitions. Want to see if you can eat the most “blazing hot” wings Buffalo Wild Wings makes? Go for it. Want to see if you can throw a baseball 80 mph? Or maybe take some swings at some college-level softball pitches? You can do all this, plus more. Or, if you’re into people watching, you can take in the sights of people having fun before and between games.

College World Series in Omaha, NE

North Platte will host its 11-day event – Nebraskaland Days – June 17-27. A rodeo and carnival rides will top the event’s schedules. Country band Florida Georgia Line will headline the Nebraskaland concert.

Nebraskaland Days in North Platte, NE

The Air Force Thunderbirds highlight the Vectren Dayton Air Show June 20-21. Aircraft that will be on static display include a B-25, KC-135, trainer jet T38C, as well as a C-46 Commando.

Planes perform during an open house at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska.
Planes perform during an open house at Offutt Air Force Base in Bellevue, Nebraska.

Chicago will be hopping full of hungry people July 8-12 during the annual Taste of Chicago. The city will celebrates its 35th annual Taste festival at Grant Park.

Taste of Chicago

Omaha and Council Bluffs will jointly celebrate Railroad Days July 11-12. The two-day event includes  admission to some of the Metro’s top attractions at one low price, including the Durham Museum (old Union Station depot), Union Pacific Railroad Museum and Lauritzen Gardens, among other attractions.

Railroad Days in Omaha, Nebraska

St. Joseph, Missouri, will be the place to check out some good music and food during its annual Trails West Festival Aug. 21-23. Starship and The Charlie Daniels Band will be the featured performers on the Main Stage.

Trails West Festival in St. Joseph, MO

Kansas City will recognize its Irish heritage during the Irish Festival Labor Day weekend, Sept. 4-6.

Bringing a little Irish from Dublin to Kansas City.
Bringing a little Irish from Dublin to Kansas City.

Cape Girardeau, Missouri, will close out the Midwest’s summer festival schedule with its annual Southeast Missouri Fair Sept. 12-19.

Southeast Missouri Fair in Cape Girardeau

While these festivals are only a small portion of what the Midwest has to offer, you’ll want to check out local and state tourism sites for more ideas. Regardless of what events you take in this summer, we hope you have a fun and safe summer.