Every June I look forward to the Aledo Rhubarb Fest in Aledo, Illinois. The Festival is pure Americana from the music to the homemade pies and food vendors. Aledo has mastered the art of the edible plant festival! For those that don’t know, “Rhubarb is a species of plant in the family of Polygonaceae and is a herbaceous perennial vegetable growing from short, thick rhizomes” that taste delicious when cooked with sugar.
This is the 27th year for the Rhubarb Festival which runs Friday, June 1 and Saturday, June 2 in Central Park in the middle of Aledo. Proclaimed the Rhubarb Capital of Illinois, historic Aledo celebrates each year by making thousands of homemade rhubarb pies that are sold under tents in the town’s shady Central Park. When I say thousands of pies, I am not exaggerating. You have to see it in person to understand the enormity of this baking feat. There will be 3,000 pies this year.
This year’s festival itinerary:
The Aledo Methodist Church serves lunch from 11:00AM to 1:30PM on both days.
There will be parking lot vendors with food and local businesses and restaurant will be open with rhubarb treats on the menu.
Food will be available in the park pavilion by a Relay for Life Team from 10:30AM to 1:30PM on June 1st.
Pie and ice cream will be served from 11:00AM to 2:00PM in the pavilion by youth groups from the First Baptist Church.
There is a Rhubarb Tasting Tent from 10:00AM to 2:00PM each day.
A craft show of over 100 exhibitors will run from 9:00AM to 4:00PM on June 2 on the Mercer County Courthouse lawn.
There is a rhubarb recipe contest on Saturday, June 2 with bake sale exhibitor competitions, kids categories, and an Iron Chef competition. (Last year’s Iron Chef won with a rhubarb pizza!) Competitors in the recipe contest must have entries at the big blue tent by 9:30AM on Saturday, June 2. Categories include pies, other desserts, and savory and miscellaneous. Tasting tent visitors may sample the entries after the judging!
The Aledo Fire Department pancake breakfast is 6:00AM to 10:30AM.
The Aledo Masonic Lodge fish fry is 11:00AM to 5:00PM at the fire station.
A 5K Rhubarb Run/Walk starts at 8:00AM on June 2. There is also a 1 mile fun run at the Mercer County Family YMCA.
Kids games will be available from 10:00AM to 2:00PM east of the band shell on June 2. Activities include face painting, inflatables and a bounce house
The Mercer Carnegie Library will have a book sale from 9:00AM to 4:00PM on June 1 and 9:00AM to 1:30PM on June 2.
A local model train club will have a display from 10:00AM to 4:00PM June 2 at 118 E. Main Street.
The Essley Nobel Museum at 1406 SE 2nd Avenue will be open from 10:00AM to 5:00Pm daily.
What is a Rhubarb festival without a pie eating contest? At noon on Saturday, June 2 there will be a rhubarb pie eating contest in front of the band stand.
There is live music on the stage which you can listen to as you sit under the shade of huge old trees. Bring a lawn chair as seating is at a premium.
Last year, I went to the fest with my sisters. We had pictures taken of ourselves sitting in the big oversized Rhubarb Fest chair in the the park. We found some unusual plants from a vendor in the park. I bought two rhubarb plants which are growing very nicely this spring. I can’t wait to harvest my rhubarb and add it to the recipes that I got from my friend, Karen, in Wisconsin. These plants will always remind me of the fun we have each year at the Aledo Rhubarb Festival!