Coal Country Chamber Fall Festival Sept. 28

Coal Country Chamber Fall Festival Sept. 28

Humphrey, part of the petting zoo, is a rare, white camel who was born in the spring and will appear at the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce Fall Festival at Benld City Park on Saturday, Sept. 28, from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The Coal Country Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Fall Festival in the Benld City Park Saturday Sept. 28.

One of the annual highlights has been the festival’s free petting zoo, featuring pygmy goats, a variety of exotic species and live Alaskan reindeer.

The display will provide an opportunity for children and adults to learn more about a variety of animals and get an up close look at them. This year, there will be a young white camel and white wallaby.

Other fun places for children include the Adopt-A-Pet tent, where dogs and cats are available for adoption.

Games, rides, more

Children can enjoy a ride on the Coal Country Choo Choo.  It chugs through and outside the park and gives its rider views of all the activities that are available. Rick Konneker, the CCCC engineer for several years, always greets his passengers with a hearty smile and an “All Aboard.”

He blows the whistle as he leaves the station and lets everyone know to look out for the choo choo. 

Pony rides are available for a small fee.

The Gillespie Band Boosters will have more than a dozen 12 kiddie games, including duck pond, ring toss, bingo, hole in one, toilet paper toss, knock over the can, etc. Tickets are three for $1 with small prizes.

The Boosters will also have $1 face painting. Also, a favorite of children at the festival is Professor Longhair, who spends his day evoking smiles from the children while he fashions creatures and items from balloons for a small fee.

Illinois Valley will be offering free temporary tattoos for children.


Kettlekorn is a perennial favorite at the annual fall event. Rev. Dave and Theresa have been serving at the Fall Festival since September 1999.

Other fun edibles available are corn dogs, snow cones, all kinds of sweet things on sticks, funnel cakes, pork rinds, pretzels, hand dipped ice cream in sugar waffles, taffy, homemade chocolate candy, sweet bread, and brownies.


The entertainment that is lined up on the stage this year is designed for young and old alike.

The Coal Country Chamber of Commerce is proud to present continuous free musical entertainment on the stage at the park pavilion from 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.

Rock-a-Billy Revival, who hail from the Grafton area, will be on stage from 10 until 11:30 a.m. The Rock-a-Billy style brings back memories of an era of really fun music of early Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, and Carl Perkins. The group is comprised of Roger Roentz on drums and vocal, Larry on saxophone, Ray Roentz on lead vocals and steel guitar; Randy Roentz on acoustic guitar and Steve Harper on upright bass.

Performing from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. will be Gillespie native and longtime Nashville resident, Amy Hailstone, with her “Live from Nashville” country show. Amy grew up with a dad, who played in a popular local rock band, and she was surrounded by pop and rock and soul music at all times. Whether it was classic American rock, soul, pop, blues, British rock—all were welcomed and consumed with pure joy and excitement, and of course many of these influences show up in Amy’s music.

“Amy has a loyal following in her hometown area and has drawn many patrons to the festival over the years that she has been with us. We are grateful to have her,” Festival organizer Mickey Robinson said.

Next, “Memories of Elvis” will fill the park with Steve Davis, Thomas Hickey and Shanna Fredrick from 1 to 4 p.m.

“Steve Davis has been a featured performer for us from the beginning of the festival,” Robinson also said. “He has a following that will travel to see him wherever he appears and he always attracts a large crowd.”

A resident of St. Louis, Davis has spent more than 20 years perfecting his channeling of the Elvis persona. The “Memories of Elvis” concert features exhaustively researched costumes and performances that capture every nuance of the King of Rock of Roll’s stage presence.

The show traces Elvis’ musical career from his early recordings at Sun Recordings in Memphis through his Las Vegas Showroom appearances later in his career.

Thomas Hickey, a high school math teacher, began performing as Buddy Holly as an opening act for the Memories of Elvis show in 2004. Shanna Fredrick sees Patsy as her true inspiration. She has been singing the songs of the beloved country music singer since she was a small child, growing up hearing those songs playing on her parents’ record player.

Those attending the festival are welcome to bring lawn chairs to sit just outside the pavilion and listen to the entertainment. As always, dancing is encouraged on the dance floor directly in front of the stage.

More about this year’s CCCC Fall Festival and the delicious foods that will be available will be posted on the Coal Country Chamber of Commerce page on Facebook through the month of September.