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BLUE MOUND - FILE

The Blue Mound Fall Festival parade, shown here in 2018, is part of the annual event taking place this weekend. 

BLUE MOUND — Can you smell the fried chicken yet? 

The annual Blue Mound Fall Festival returns this weekend, kicking off Thursday. The weekend's activities include a 5K/fun run, adorable baby contest, pageant, car show, horseshoe-pitching tournament, bingo and music, including Imagine That Band at 7:30 p.m. Saturday. A parade starts at 11 a.m. Saturday and takes place on Lewis Street, Niles Street and St. Marie Street. 

One thing the festival won't have this year: a carnival. Tom Ritter, chairman of the event, said the festival board had trouble booking a carnival and has made other provisions for families. "Instead we will have the inflatables that are popular now," he said. 

There will also be an escape room, climbing wall, DJ music all three nights and children's games such as sack races and backward races. "Everyone will win something," Ritter said. 

Tickets for the inflatables are $1 each or 24 tickets for $20. Between noon and 4 p.m. Saturday, armbands will be available for unlimited play on the inflatables. The climbing wall and escape room are $5 each. 

One of the difficulties the festival board encountered is the lack of a carnival availability. "With the consolidation of carnivals, they end up going to larger cities," Ritter said.

Carnival operators sometimes also supply food concessions. Ritter said the festival prefers to have local groups sell food to support their fundraisers. "They bring the funds back into the community," Ritter said.

Available items will include lemon shakeups, steak sandwiches, cotton candy, apples with caramel dipping sauce, walking tacos, funnel cakes and burgers. The festival serves a charbroiled pork chop dinner on Friday evening and a deep-fried chicken dinner on Saturday afternoon. 

Most activities wrap up Saturday, but there is a church service at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Blue Mound United Methodist Church, 113 College St., followed by an 11:30 a.m. lunch in Wise Park provided by the Blue Mound Fire Department. Donations are appreciated. 

More festival information is available online at facebook.com/BlueMoundFallFestival

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Contact Donnette Beckett at (217) 421-6983. Follow her on Twitter: @donnettebHR

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