Whoever came up with the idea to celebrate the fresh, doughy baked goodness of bagels over a three-day festival, we applaud you. Held July 20 — 23, Mattoon, Ill., (the self-proclaimed Bagel Capital of the World) will satisfy breakfast, lunch, and even dinner cravings for that one holed, yeasted wheat treat at the Mattoon Bagelfest. Now in its 26th year, this ingenious food festival is your spot for bagels, bingo, bands, and even babies, all weekend long.
The festival kicks off on Wednesday, July 20th, with the Beautiful Bagel Baby Contest at the Cross County Mall, where little ones — from newborns to 4 year olds — compete for a title so delicious, we wish we had it on our resumes. From 5 p.m. to 11 p.m., Thursday promises food and craft vendors, a carnival, and the Miss Bagelfest Contest, where kids of all ages duke it out for the crown and sash, not to mention, bragging rights.
Come Friday to get your grub on all day with food vendors open from 12 p.m. to 11 p.m. and while you’re busy making room for your next bagel, hit up the bingo tables or head to the beer tent to catch live, local bands and sip a cold one (or two!).
Rise and shine for Saturday morning’s 7 a.m. Run for the Bagel event, and work up an appetite for your Free Bagel Breakfast after the race at the Demars Center in Peterson Park, sponsored by Lender’s. Line up for the Bagelfest parade and march through Mattoon before you head back to the food vendors to get a taste of what you missed the day before.
Who says all food fests need to be about new wave gastronomy or top of the line food trucks? We have a feeling that it’s a clever simplicity that’s kept the Mattoon Bagelfest around for so long. So what are you waiting for? A festival this delicious only happens once a year…