Stormy festival could run out of steam

By Anna Yee

June 14, 2013 Updated Jun 14, 2013 at 8:20 PM CDT

PEORIA, Ill. -- This is Jessica Garcia's first time bringing her family to the 42nd annual Steamboat Days festival along the Peoria Riverfront.

"My husband's going to the race," said Garcia, "so it will be fun for them to watch him run and then also going to the carnival, they'll love that of course."

About 5,000 participants are expected to race in the Steamboat Classic Saturday morning.

"It's all about keeping people active and promoting physical activity and getting up off the couch and moving," said Philip Lockwood, Director of the Steamboat Classic Race.

You might need that exercise if you're going to stock up on fair food, like deep fried oreos.

This year, more vendors are locally-owned, even the carnival rides.

"It's very important for our company to be involved," said Deanna Pusey, concessions manager of CDAC, Inc. "We like to keep the money locally. We're local taxpayers, and we like to keep the money right here in Peoria and right in the community."

But if there's one factor that can affect how much money the festival generates, it's the weather.

The event chair says activities will continue in the rain until severe weather strikes, which happened last year.

"We had to pay three bands that never played," said Jim Junk, event chair of Steamboat Days and Vice President of PACE (Peoria Area Community Events).

"And then you had to shut the carnival down. The carnival doesn't make money. Venders don't make money. Nobody's happy. Weather can make or break us."

Still, organizers are keeping their hopes high for the 20,000 attendees expected... very high.

This year, the Steamboat Days festival is going all out for families, raising the bar on fun.

Fairgoers can ride the 3rd largest traveling Ferris wheel in the nation.

It's the six-story high ride and all the Steamboat events that are forecasted to help round up families in Peoria this weekend, rain or shine.

The Steamboat Days Festival continues on the Peoria Riverfront until 10:30 p.m. Friday. Bands will play until midnight.

The fair re-opens Saturday, from 9:00 a.m. until 10:30 p.m., with live music from 6:00 p.m. until midnight.

Admission is free before 6:00 p.m.

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