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DECATUR — Even if the Decatur Celebration has been around for 34 years, organizers always find some new food to eat.
This year's choices did not disappoint.
Festival-goers should be able to find a new favorite, from fried foods like cheese curds to healthy turkey burgers.
The Herald & Review once again enlisted a panel of taste-testers to sample goods Friday night.
They included representatives from the advertising department, Tanya Watkins and Jeff Shaw; Vice President of Sales & General Manager Alexander Gould; new reporter Garrett Karsten; and customer service representative Meagan Williams.
The basic BLT by Gill Street Eatz was a hands-down favorite. "It was not just a BLT," Shaw said.
"It was the spicy sauce that they had," Williams said.
The bread added to the appeal. "It was food that was good for a fair, but you could eat it at a restaurant," Gould said.
Each had their own second favorite. Twisted tacos made with lobster had its appeal for some, but not for others.
Cannoli were the only new sweet treat offered this year, but that didn't matter to the tasters. The BLT and cannoli were served from the same vendor. "You could get dinner and dessert in the same place," Gould said.
Here are the new foods we tried.
WHERE: Twisted Tacos on Franklin Street, north of William Street
THE FOOD: They serve craft tacos with various flavors, including buffalo, chicken/bacon/ranch. According to Milberg, craft tacos are more Americanized tacos versus street tacos because they are made with a flour soft shell. The cook can also use the different meats and flavors to change the appeal.
WHERE: Combat Kettle Corn on South Park Street, west of Franklin Street
COST: $5 fruit drink; $10 bag of popcorn
THE FOOD: Owner Adam Randolph is an Air Force veteran who began making his gourmet popcorn at festivals after he retired from the service. He now lives near Scott Air Force Base near St. Louis.
The taste testers enjoyed the popcorn and the variety of flavors. The Tutti Frutti encouraged a lively discussion. "We all had different thoughts on what it would taste like," Gould said.
"Like Fruity Pebbles," Watkins said.
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Beer-battered Wisconsin cheese curds
WHERE: Food Baby on William Street, east of Franklin Street
COST: $6 for small; $10 for large
THE FOOD: The bite-sized pieces of fried cheese comes with a homemade ranch dressing. "It taste like a grilled-cheese sandwich," Watkins said.
Chris Bennett and Jenny Binger have been selling the Wisconsin cheese treats for about five years at various festivals, but this is their first time at the Celebration.
BLTS, cannoli and brisket
WHERE: Gill Street Eatz on Franklin Street, north of William Street
COST: $8 BLT; $4 cannoli
THE FOOD: The vendor is new to the Decatur Celebration as well as the festival circuit. They have been serving different dishes from their food truck for only six weeks. Celebration organizers helped craft their menu to give a variety of vendors. The suggestions worked. The BLT was a favorite among the taste testers. "The mayo was nice and spicy," Watkins said.
The cannoli was a close second. "It was a mess," Williams said.
"But I loved it," Gould said.
WHERE: The Turkey Man on North Park Street, east of Water Street
THE FOOD: Von Thomas makes his own creamy sauce made with is own secret spices. He also has a unique seasoning he adds to the lean burgers while they are grilling. The burger is served with or without onions.
Chicken fingers and wings
WHERE: Coleman Concessions on South Park Street, east of Water Street
THE FOOD: Although they are not new to the Decatur Celebration, Coleman concessions have brought a new product, chicken wings or chicken fingers. In the past they served hot dogs.
The wings were loaded with sauce, no matter the choice. The tasters tried barbecue and garlic Parmesan. Each wing needed at least two napkins.
Gallery: A look back at Decatur Celebration through the years🎵🎈
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Davis, Gloria razzle dazzle
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BREHENY: Many thanks to these Decatur Celebration sponsors
The 34th Decatur Celebration is almost here!
In March, the Herald & Review printed an editorial that challenged us to "Support the Decatur Celebration."
In April, the leadership of the Decatur Celebration appealed to businesses and individuals to invest money into the event as a sponsor. The sponsorship would provide the financial resources needed to hire quality entertainment for this year's three-day event.
We are happy to report that businesses and individuals stepped up to the tune of over $200,000, exceeding our required goal of $150,000. The entertainment is booked and it's now time to "Party On" in downtown Decatur on Aug. 2, 3 and 4.
Thank you, thank you, thank you to these sponsors!
- All Service and Contracting Corp.
- Decatur Area Convention & Visitors Bureau
- Decatur Park District
- HSHS St. Mary's Hospital
- Neuhoff Media
- Refreshment Services Pepsi
- Skeff Distributing
- Village of Forsyth
- Caterpillar Inc.
- Cromwell Radio Group
- Decatur Ambulance Service
- Main Place Properties, LLC
- Advanced Disposal
- Barbeck Communications
- Black & Company
- Brinkoetter & Associates
- City Limitless of Decatur and Macon County
- Decatur Conference Center & Hotel
- Decatur Earthmover Credit Union
- Flora Gems
- Hickory Point Bank & Trust
- Investment Planners Inc.
- The Kelly Group
- Land of Lincoln Credit Union
- McLeod Express Trucking
- Miles Chevrolet
- PNC Bank
- RK Dixon
- St. Paul's Lutheran Church
- Sunbelt Rentals
- Tate & Lyle North America Inc.
- Air King
- Aramark Uniform Services
- Bob Ridings Decatur
- Bodine Electric
- Cole Family Dentistry
- Dale's Southlake Pharmacy
- Dan Caulkins for Illinois State Representative
- Decatur Magazine
- Decatur Memorial Hospital
- Decatur Public School District 61
- Dunn Company
- Exelon Corp.
- Falcon Multimedia
- First Mid Bank & Trust
- Glenda Williamson Realty
- Greater Decatur Chamber of Commerce
- Horve Builders/Hospitalities
- IBEW Local 146
- J.L. Hubbard Insurance & Bonds
- Macon County Sheriff's Department
- May, Cocagne & King P.C.
- Newell Auto Body
- Nims Family Grant
- Romono Company
- State Farm Insurance
- Tony Perino
- WICS / Fox / CW
- Brechnitz Group of Raymond James
- Bob Brady Auto Mall
- Decatur Building and Construction
- Heinkel's Packing Co.
- Maroa Lumber Company
- Parke Warehouses (Parke and Son Inc)
- Richland Community College
- Staley Credit Union
- Swatrz Properties
- The Brass Horn
- Celebration Friend
- Charles Kuhle
- Coziahr Harley Davidson
- Grain Journal
- Jim and Melissa Livasy
- Kevin & Sue Breheny
- William Krueger
Everything is in place to have another great event. The only thing we need now is good weather and for you to buy your wristbands. This Thursday, board members will be selling them all day at Central Park in downtown Decatur for a discounted price of $10. They are good for the whole Celebration weekend. You can save $5 by just driving by the park and purchasing them in advance. You don’t even have to get out of your car. They will come to you.
You can also go to decaturcelabration.com for other business locations that are selling wristbands at a discount in advance of next weekend.
The entertainment is lined up, the food vendors are coming, the arts and crafts are made, the rides will be waiting for the kids and the drinks will be ice cold.
All we need now is to see you there! So as the headline said, please “Support the Decatur Celebration."