Celebrate all things rhubarb in Aledo this weekend


ALEDO, Illinois – The Aledo Rhubarb Festival turns 32 this weekend and organizers are inviting guests to head out to the annual celebration of everything rhubarb in this Mercer County town of 3,600.

Darlene Johnson, founder of the Aledo Rhubarb Festival, died last year. In her honor, organizers continue to share her admonition to avoid “avoid rhubarb regret” by getting to the June 7-8 event early. CREDIT ALEDO RHUBARB FESTIVAL

The two-day event on Friday, June 7, and Saturday, June 8, is held in the streets of the historic town, located at the crossroads of Illinois Highways 17 an 94. The annual festival’s events are split between Aledo’s Central Park and the Mercer County Courthouse lawn. Vendors and other offerings also spill into the streets of downtown Aledo.

The festival is billed as a celebration of all things rhubarb – from pie to ice cream to soda pop. This town is so well known for that leafy spring vegetable with bright pink stalks that in 2007 the Illinois General Assembly officially dubbed it the Rhubarb Capital of Illinois.

Since shortly after the festival began in 1991, the centerpiece attractions have always been the rhubarb tasting tent and the scores of rhubarb pies available for sale and sampling on Friday and Saturday.

One key thing that will be missing this year however, is the Aledo Rhubarb Festival founder Darlene Johnson. Ms. Johnson – who died last year – is well known for urging attendees to avoid “Rhubarb regret, a condition caused by arriving too late to purchase one of our delicious pies.” In her absence the festival is continuing to share that admonition in television ads as well as on its Facebook page and website.

Rhubarb still the star

While rhubarb is the star of this fest, it’s not the only thing that lures visitors to Aledo’s downtown each year.

There also will be live music, and visitors are urged to bring their lawn chairs to hear bands that include Levi Craft & Friends, the Clintstones and the Cowtippers.

Festival-goers also can sample food available from local restaurants and the cooks on Food Vendor Row.

An antique, craft and flea market again will be featured at the Central Park Market both days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Then, on Saturday, another 100 or so art and craft vendors will set up shop at Crafts In the Courtyard. They will peddle their wares on the lawn of the historic Mercer County Courthouse from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Downtown Aledo also will offer shopping and dining opportunities. A free trolley tour is available to see the town’s sites and history. Additionally, there will be free children’s activities in the Kid Zone.

Wear your walking shoes

Rhubarb Festival admission is always free. Main events run from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. For the most up-to-date information on parking, shuttles and events, check the website and Facebook page

aledo Rhubarb Festival

As always, organizers are warning that parking in this small town can be a challenge. So plan to park on one of Aledo’s side streets, and wear a good pair of walking shoes.

Complimentary golf cart shuttles are available both days from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. So look out for drivers who will be out shuttling walkers back and forth to their vehicles.

There is a limited amount of handicapped parking available on the 100 block of South College Avenue. Also on Saturday, there will be a free shuttle bus that will run from First Baptist Church at 800 NE 6th Ave. to the downtown heart of the fest. It will keep making a loop all day from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Visit aledorhubarbfest.com for more details.

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