Home > IFL Road Trip > IFL Road Trip #3: Lacon Old Settler’s 2011

IFL Road Trip #3: Lacon Old Settler’s 2011

IFL Road Trip #1: Busch Stadium, St. Louis

IFL Road Trip #2: Chicago/Milwaukee

Welcome to the third edition of the IFL Road Trip.  Originally, I wasn’t going to include this as a road trip, because in a way it isn’t.  It’s more of a homecoming.  A significant portion of league members in the IFL and the IFB are natives of the small Marshall County seat of around 2,000 residents.  Here’s list of who has played in the leagues and came from the Lacon/Sparland/Midland School District area:

  • Anabolic A Rods (2010 IFB)/4th and Inches (2011 IFL)
  • BJ Penn (2010 IFB)
  • Bambinos (2010 IFB)
  • Bushwackers (2010 IFB)
  • JSloan (2010 IFB)/Bad News Bears (2010 IFL, 2011 IFB, 2011 IFL)
  • Muse Academy Muses (2010 IFB, 2010 IFL, 2011 IFB, 2011 IFL)
  • Sparland Hilltoppers (2010 IFB, 2010 IFL, 2011 IFL)
  • B1R (2010 IFL)
  • The Grove Johnsons (2010 IFL)
  • NIU Huskies (2011 IFB)

It may not be a majority, but a good portion of league members have a base in Lacon.  If there was an official home for the leagues, it would be Lacon.

But many of the people move on to different things; bigger jobs, college, general moving out of the area.  It happens, but Lacon is still home, with family and friends based here.

That is why Old Settler’s is a big event.  It’s the town’s biggest festival event of the year, and everyone comes back for at least a visit.  I couldn’t tell you how many friends from the past I ran into this past weekend, and it was superb to catch up with them all.  Some of things that occur during the festival have changed over the years, some for the worst, but the basic elements have stayed the same.

And that will be the theme of the photos taken from the 141st edition of the Lacon Old Settler’s festival.  The theme will be staples, staples of the event that you know will be there, and are true of every small town festival.  So come join us on this journey.

Here’s the road sign that greets you when you come to Lacon.  It used to say ‘Lacon  2000’.  Now it’s a sign that marks the hometown of one of Lacon’s most famous residents, Animal Jim Feurer.  His wife was the home ec teacher out at the high school, teaching us how to make cookies and sew.  I did not take part in the latter.

So after strolling in on a Friday afternoon, I decided to walk through the town to see how busy the town was.  It wasn’t.

The Main Stage

The Food Court

The Mortal Enemy of Old Settlers

Let’s pause for a minute and talk about Paul’s Mall.  This store always makes a killing during Old Settler’s, and I’m one that’s always for capitalism.  But this store becomes the main provider for every juvenile pre-teen delinquent in town  to destroy it.  Silly string, hair spray paint, stink bombs, and whatever they pick up at clearance at other stores.  The town has actually tried in the past to have the store shut down during the festival, just to make sure the streets don’t look like a Candyland war zone on Sunday morning.  It hasn’t been successful.

So after grabbing a quick lunch at the Pizza Peel, I went back home for a little bit to wait it out before the action started to pick up.  The activities wouldn’t begin until later that night.  I made a quick decision about my plans after I saw this on the main stage.


I decided my evening would be better spent playing poker, but before that, I wanted to visit one of the ‘staples’ of Old Settler’s…the ring toss put on by the Lacon/Sparland Fire Department.

Just a quarter to play!

It is a bit of a challenge to get a wooden ring around the top of a glass bottle.

Tougher than it looks.

Next up after an unsuccessful night of poker was a trip to another staple of small town festivals.

The beer tent outside the Legion.

The darkness of the night was not productive for taking pictures, and I had to head to bed earlier than usual that night for a long and early day that was ahead for Saturday.

The first event for the final, and largest, day of the festival was the flag raising at the courthouse.


After that, it was the first big event, and ‘staple’, of the day.  The annual 5K race.  The Old Settler’s 5K race is a challenging one that runs through the main drag of the town, through side streets and Johnson’s Grove Park, with numerous hills, and a downhill finish.  And I (stupidly) decided to run it for the second year in a row.

I'm not that strong

I made a custom shirt for the race, because I kinda wanted to stand out and have a little motivation.  So I asked my friend April if I could put her vectored image of Rainbow Dash on the front of my shirt.  She agreed, and everyone that saw it heaped praise on it for how it kicked flank.

A better look at the front.

The back of the shirt.

The back of the shirt contained my time from last year’s 5K, and the statement that I wanted to beat that time.  The Dash cutie mark came from Ponychan.  And I believe the shirt (along with some training) helped me accomplish my goal.

From the results page for the event:

I did it!  But when you factor in the age group results:


You might recognize the winner of the age group, and 4th overall finisher of the race.  That’s Bad News Bears, and was part of the first IFL Road Trip.


The group’s 3rd place finisher was also a member of the leagues in the past, playing in the 2010 IFB season as BJ Penn.

After the 5K event, another ‘staple’ of the Old Settler’s celebration took place, and both involved the kids of the town.  Every year, the kids get a parade of their own.

Kids running wild.

And after that, it was time for the kiddie water fight.  Every year, the fire department strings up an orange painted tin can on clothesline, and two kids would aim hoses at it to see who could push it further.  And the winner would receive a free ice cream cone or a bowling game.

Push that tin!

This year though, someone had to be a dick (or groups of people didn’t plan it out ahead of time) and drive an oversized load through the middle of the town, in the middle of the kiddie water fight, during the kiddie water fights.  They paused the event to let the driver through.  He was rightly booed.

You suck!

There’s plenty of other ‘staples’ of small town festivals.  One of them involves various vendors setting up shop in the courthouse park, and selling their wares.  Like…

T-shirts meant for old people.

Mall kiosk sunglasses.

Overpriced scented candles.

And the county health department giving you tips.

Another Old Settler’s ‘staple’ is the window display contest, where various businesses dress up their storefronts to the year’s theme.  This year’s theme was the ‘Old West’.  We’ll approach this abortion later on.  But here’s a few examples of the displays.

A craft store

State Farm office

The Historical Society

Every year, budding artists and people who took a few pictures on their family vacation enter the Art and Photography Show.  I won $25 in it once.  Here’s an example of my artist skills.

Art Ahoy!

Effort was put into this

Enter your vacation photos!

Let’s get back to this Old West theme for a minute here.  It seemed like they half-assed it this year.  Sure, there were people in costume, like this…

Old West cosplayers

The main event was a ‘bank robbery’, and the word robbery is used very loosely.  And quiet honestly, the whole charade was moronic.  Let’s go to the video.

They staged this at noon (or high noon in this case), in front of the bank while they were closing up for the day.  Not only that, the art show was still going on in the basement of the bank.  And yes, two old women happened to pop out in the build up to the ‘robbery’, while they were setting up.  A little more planning (and better acting) would have gone a long way here.

The next thing covered is a staple of EVERY festival, the carnival.  Back in the day, the carnival was spread out on the entire main drag of the town, and the rides would get you close enough where if you reached out, you might slam right into a building.  It was a blast.  In fact, this was the street it was on.

The barren Main Street

Looks empty, right?  This is what the carnival has been reduced to over the years.

Anyone there?

And this is where the carnie folk retired for the night, next to the beer tent.  Fitting it seems.

Don't go there...ever

I also mentioned earlier that Old Settler’s is a homecoming kind-of event.  Here’s a couple of people (a.k.a. blood relatives) I ran into this weekend.

Bushwackers (cousin Zack)

NIU Huskies

The main event of any festival, big or small, is the parade.  And Old Settler’s is no exception.  And every parade has its staples and things that you see in every single one of them.

Local law enforcement to start the parade

The county sheriff

Flag bearing American Legion members

The Grand Marshall

The county's elected officials

A float that fits the theme

The royalty of the festival

The local ambulance unit

Firefighters, which may include your annoying cousin

And their large truck

The junior high...

...marching band

The Shriners

And their large truck

The county fair queen (from Lacon this year bitches!)

A local TV news personality (WMBD 31's Bob Larson) coming to grace their presence to us

This next photo isn’t a staple of a parade.  It is in a way of the ‘local business’ sense, but this one deserves it’s own mention.

Casey's pizza nightmare fuel

It was horrifying.  Back to the ‘staples’…

Large farm vehicles

The local 4-H chapter

The local high school football team, the River Valley Falcons...

...and their cheerleaders

This float also merits a special mention.  My aunt Lisa has been fighting breast cancer for the past few years, and the effort to raise awareness and money to fight cancer has been in overload.  Next month is the 2nd annual Lisa’s Ride, a poker run bike ride thing where they raise money for good causes.  They had a float this year.


More bikers

Bringing up the rear

And on with the rest of the parade…

Another local business in a sweet car

A high school reunion float

And horses to close out the parade...

...with a mini-horse thrown in

Two new things have popped up in recent years that are quickly becoming staples of the Old Settler’s festival.  One of them is the bags tourney down at the beer tent at the Legion.


And the cruise-in car show that parks along Main Street.  This is actually one of the better things that has been brought in during the past decade.

Vroom vroom

After a long day of running races, watching kids fight with water, parades, and horrible stage entertainment, you need a good meal to keep the energy up for the night ahead.  And the traditional meal for Saturday dinner at Old Settler’s is the (overpriced, but still good) chicken dinner at the Legion.


And how does one wrap up a great weekend back home in Lacon at Old Settler’s?


The Saturday night adventure was pretty dull, until everyone I went to high school started showing up, and it turned into a reunion party.  Sadly, the dark once again stopped productive photo taking on my iPhone.

This is Emily. She kicks ass.

And that’s a journey back home for one of the longest running town festivals in Illinois.

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