DECATUR — The Decatur Celebration planned Aug. 1-4 has been going through a few changes, but some things will never change, including the love of food by festival-goers.
Foodies are guaranteed to get their fill fair food, as well as specialty cuisine such as Turasky’s grilled ribeye, pulled pork nachos, turkey legs, fried alligator, roasted sweet corn, and "tot-chos," last year’s winner of the Herald & Review taste test.
Since his team won last year with their tater tot/nacho combo, Todd Norris, owner of the Truck Norris food truck, has been receiving calls from Celebration fans asking them to return.
“It’s No. 1 on our truck,” he said. “People are wanting us to come back.”
The 34th Decatur Celebration is almost here!
Although the business travels from St. Louis, their stop over at last year’s festival has drummed up even more business from the Illinois side.
“We have been contacted by people in Illinois for an entire year,” Norris said.
Truck Norris had been in business less than a year when it came to the Celebration in 2018.
“We had no idea what to plan for. Last year, we cleaned out tater tots from every Walmart in the area,” Norris said. “We are a lot more prepared this year.”
The story starts with a promise of more shock and surprise than it deserves.
Although people come back for their favorites, many walk through downtown in search of a new pick.
You have free articles remaining.
This year’s new foods will tempt all palates, including turkey burgers for the health-conscious or deep-fried bacon-wrapped ribs for those who love all things fried.
Cheryl Pinkley, event manager for the Celebration, works with the food vendors. Although she is interested in trying new foods, she has her favorites from the past. “I’m looking forward to Hamburger Dan (chef at the Sunrise Cafe booth) and the cheeseburger he serves,” she said. “He makes the best burger. They are juicy and on point.”
Another favorite from the past, the Gyro King, will be celebrating the Celebration’s 34 years with a 34-foot gyro. Chris Droukas, owner of local food truck, said he has been a part of the Celebration since the beginning. “And I’m there all the time,” he said. “From 5 o’clock Friday morning until midnight Sunday.”
Droukas plans to prepare the large, celebratory Greek dish from 2:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday in front of his booth in the middle of Franklin Street. “It is one foot for every year,” he said.
The first 68 visitors will receive a free portion of the Gyro. The giant Gyro will consist of 17 pounds of meat, 8 pounds of sauce, 5 pounds of tomatoes and 5 pounds of onions. “And Chris tells us, plenty of pita,” Pinkley said.
Impressive as it may sound, the Celebration Gyro is not the biggest Droukas has made. His largest gyro was 52-foot one in 1998 made during the Macon County Fair.
“If I were to sell it would be about $550,” Droukas said. “But this is just for fun.”
New foods at the 2019 Decatur Celebration
- Located on William Street, Beer Battered Wisconsin Cheese Curds will be brought to the festival by first-timers Food Baby.
- Twisted Tacos, a unique twist on an old favorite, will be new to the Celebration through the St. Louis food vendor Skull Queens. The various additions to the taco will include lobster, steak, chicken/bacon ranch and buffalo seasoning. The booth will be at the north end of Franklin Street.
- Combat Kettle Corn and Concessions will have a blast serving Gourmet Popcorn as well as fruit drinks on South Park Street.
- Located next to the Scream Haunted House on North Street, the vendors Get It While it’s Hot Inc. will be serving several meals including Brisket Mac N Cheese, Brisket Bacon Shrimp Sandwich, Deep Fried Bacon Wrapped Ribs and Honey Ginger Rib Tips.
- Gill Street Eatz will be dishing out an array of dishes, including BLTs, Cannolis and Brisket, at their Franklin Street booth.
- Located on North Park Street, Turkey Burgers are a new healthy, local, addition to the Celebration which includes a nicely seasoned burger along with grilled onions and other toppings.
Tim Cain's 10 favorite Celebration performances
Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR