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MATTOON -- Bagelfest's parade and its concerts Thursday through Saturday at Peterson Park drew crowds despite daytime temperatures that topped 90 degrees.

Tourism & Arts Director Angelia Burgett said the parade Saturday morning drew about 115 floats and other entrants, adding that participation usually is around 100. This total was without Mattoon middle and high school student groups, with the district following IESA and IHSA guidelines to not have students in parades during excessive heat.

Burgett said festival-goers used common sense by limiting their time outdoors at the park during the midday heat. She said breezes thankfully blew across Grimes Field during the evening concerts and that Bagelfest sold all the reserve seats for the Oak Ridge Boys concert Friday and nearly all for the 1964 The Tribute show Saturday.

"Both nights, people were jumping up and dancing. It was just fun," Burgett said.

Bagel breakfast

Festival-goers were lined up outside the Demars Center when the doors opened at 8 a.m. Saturday for the free bagel breakfast. The Lender's Bagels plant in Mattoon provided nearly 20,000 plain, blueberry and cinnamon raisin bagels for this event, plus approximately that many individual plain and bagged French toast bagels for the parade.

Mattoon natives Natalie Sutimek and her father, Jeff Furry, were among those in line after she ran in the Run for the Bagel 5K at 6:30 a.m. Sutimek, of Bloomington, and Furry, of Normal, said they said have a lot of family in Mattoon, so the Bagelfest provides a good opportunity to get together.

Bill Karpus dined at the bagel breakfast with his daughter, April Karpus-Weddle, and granddaughter, 2-year-old Violet, all of Mattoon. Karpus said his family has been going to this breakfast every year since the festival started in 1986, noting that the only breakfast her daughter missed was one while she was in France.

"It's something we plan to do every year. I don't know what we would do if we didn't go to Bagelfest," Karpus said.

The breakfast was staffed by volunteers, including cadets from the Mattoon High School JROTC program. Sophomore Kelley Stewart, who is a cadet private first class, said they also helped staff the concerts, sold bottled water, and cleaned up the park's pavilion and restrooms.

"One of my favorite things about JROTC is the community outreach and the service that we do," Stewart said.

Bagelfest parade

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Many of the parade participants decorated their floats and other entries to go along with the 2019 festival's "Peace, Love and Bagels" theme.

Coles County Truck Convoy for Make-A-Wish Illinois volunteer Joy Eggers said they created a 10-car train for children by turning plastic barrels for car wash soap into the cars. They decorated each car with flower power and peace symbols.

Monitor Sign Services general manager Bryan Cornell and shop foreman Kit Cornell decorated their big truck with four 4-foot-diameter bagel signs and 2 30-inch ones. They created these giant vinyl bagels in their workshop with a specialized printer, plotter and router.

Alton Warehousing & Delivery Service's entry featured a wooden spool for fiber optic cable that was turned into a giant peace sign. Joe Trueblood, general manager for delivery, said they spray painted the spool white, hand painted a swirl of tie-dye colors on this canvas, and then glued on bagels in the peace sign shape.

Main stage concerts

The concert lineup featured a free show by 7eventh Time Down on Thursday, followed by ticketed shows by the Oak Ridge Boys on Friday and 1964 The Tribute on Saturday. Burgett said she was pleased with the turnout for all three concerts.

Saturday evening, the Oaks used the concert as an opportunity to present their longtime friend and tour bus driver Darrell "Curly" Jones with a plaque honoring his 50 years of driving for them.

Concert-goer and Oaks fan Jan Seibert, a former Effingham resident who now lives in Quincy, said the country legends "were awesome as always, even though they were dying from the heat."

"Early in the show when (the Oaks Joe Bonsall) was talking to the kids, that was my grandson Aidan who said, 'I'm almost 7!' That's what makes the Boys so fun, they interact with the crowd. And, Aidan and I lucked into two extra meet and greet passes, so he got to go to the bus and we got our pic with them, he was so excited. He loved his first show."

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Contact Rob Stroud at (217) 238-6861. Follow him on Twitter: @TheRobStroud

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Rob Stroud is a reporter for the JG-TC, covering the city of Mattoon, Lake Land College, Cumberland County and areas including Oakland, Casey and Martinsville.

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