BEST FAMILY-FRIENDLY ENTERTAINMENT
Knight’s Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure
Who hasn’t spent a summer day at Knight’s Action Park and Caribbean Water Adventure either floating on the wave pool, riding the go carts, knocking golf balls, hanging in the batting cage or just goofing off in the arcade? A Springfield area institution for decades, the family-owned and operated business originally started at the east end of South Grand Avenue and opened the current 62-acre amusement park off of I-72 many years ago. Knight’s consistently offers a tradition of fun in the sun for area residents. Recent road closings due to the improvements to I-72 and the wet and unseasonably cool summer of ’09 most certainly affected attendance numbers, but enough central Illinois folks decided Knight’s Action Park is by far the favorite spot for a family to be entertained. Coming in at a distant second was the Illinois State Fair. The Route 66 Drive-in, a part of the Knight’s complex, scored a well-placed third.
Runner-up: Illinois State Fair
BEST DOWNTOWN EVENT
Old Capitol Blues and BBQs
When choosing a favorite downtown event it seems our fine citizens have no problem as long as they can have several winners. There was only a six-point gap between top vote getter the Old Capitol Blues & BBQs and a tie for third between Old Capitol Farmers’ Market and the Old Capitol Art Fair, with the Taste of Downtown — the only high-scoring downtown event that doesn’t mention the Old State Capitol in its title by the way — hovering in the middle. In looking for similarities in all four winners other than location, there is the obvious connecting factor of food and art in varying degrees which bodes well for the refinement factor of our populace. The art fair wins in the longevity contest by several decades, but with Downtown Springfield, Inc. (DSI) firmly supporting the remaining three events the future of these favorites in our city culture looks very promising.
Runner-up: Taste of Downtown
BEST NONPROFIT FUNDRAISING EVENT
Chatham Sweet Corn Festival
Central Illinois residents enjoy their sweet corn and proved it by voting the Chatham Sweet Corn Festival their favorite nonprofit fundraising event. Then again maybe it’s the Illinois Champion Cow Chip Throw that attracts the crowd. Or perhaps the live music shows and the added attraction of blues bands on Saturday afternoon or maybe the availability of cold beer on a hot July day is what does it. Let’s assume the combination of all these factors and more makes this one of most popular events of summer in Sangamon County. Mark your calendars now for the 37th festival coming soon on July 16 and 17, 2010. Relay for Life, sponsored by the American Cancer Society, polled second with the Edwards Place Fine Arts Fair coming in at number three. All in all, each and every nonprofit fundraising event is a worthy cause and a winner at every level of consideration.
Runner-up: Relay for Life
BEST BAR FOR LIVE MUSIC
9 West Old State Capitol Plaza, 522-2280
Marly’s Pub again takes the crown in this category and it’s no surprise either. Owners of the largest bar space consistently booking live music in the city, the downtown venture keeps things hopping with live music six days a week. Other boons of the Irish-flavored nightclub include a large and visible stage, in-house PA system (thanks to Warren) and a fairly varied entertainment schedule within the rock world. It’s the place to find previous Best of Springfield winners Dave and Dave of the Station and Micah Walk performing on a weekly basis plus local, regional and national acts from original roots rockers to ’80s cover bands on the weekends. Up and comers Bar None, just a block and a half south of Marly’s on Fifth and Monroe, rated a respectable second place while Lime Street Café on the near west side pulled a distant but admirable third place showing.
Runner-up: Bar None
BEST BAR FOR KARAOKE
Inside Strike ’n Spare Lanes, 2660 W. Lawrence, 787-6111
Springfield loves its karaoke. Just take a look sometime in our Pub Crawl listings and count the karaoke nights. It’s truly amazing to see the sheer numbers with as many as eight separate shows in different bars on Thursday nights listed in a recent IT issue. So it’s no surprise to see a healthy competition and high numbers in the race for Best Bar for Karaoke. Breaktime, located in the same complex as Donnie B’s Funny Bone came out slightly ahead in the heated race, but currently doesn’t host a karaoke night and intends to “see how the market does” before reinstating one in the future. That gives us Sluggo’s, the lounge area inside AMF Strike ’n Spare bowling alley on the west side of town, as the top vote-getter still hosting karaoke. Greg Bomke, your congenial host, runs the show two nights a week and could very well win as longest-running karaoke host in Springfield. But that would be another category.
FAVORITE SUMMER EVENT AT THE LAKE
Rock the Dock
Let there be no doubt about it, Rock the Dock is the most popular event at Lake Springfield, according to our voters. In fact this event received more votes than any other single offering in the whole shebang. Thousands of oohers and ahhers came to the Lake Springfield Marina area to listen to local bands, partake in food and drink, and watch a 35-minute fireworks display last year and a good bunch of them decided to vote Rock the Dock in as the favorite summer event of 2009. Sponsored by Illinois