The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

September 20, 2013

New attractions at Melon Days

By Amy Kent
Herald Staff Writer

---- — THOMSON, Ill. — The time has come to welcome in the third annual Thomson Melon Days Fall Festival at 11 a.m. Saturday.

The event will take place at the Heirloom Market and Cafe on Illinois 84 in Thomson, and this year will feature a few new things to spark the interest of the area.

The masterminds behind the Melon Days Fall Festival, the Heid family, have been organizing the event for three years, and each year they try to top themselves by adding new items for guests to enjoy.

This year, for the first time at the festival, a beer tent will be available to adult guests and a wine tasting will be offered to those who wish to sample the spirits of Thomson.

The event also will feature three interactive workshops, for free, for anyone who is interested, one that will be hosted by television personality Michele Beschen.

“We have three informational workshops, 1 p.m., 1:30 p.m., and 2 p.m., that will cover landscaping, seed saving, and Michele Beschen will host a repurposing workshop,” event planner Sarah Tyler said.

Tyler’s parents, Bill and Kim Heid, are the ones who took over the Melon Days celebration three years ago after Thomson’s previous festival lost funding and was unable to continue.

“They used to have one over Labor Day and with the economy and with what happened with the Thomson prison, funding kind of dried up for that,” music facilitator Bob Whitten said. “Bill Heid decided to pick it up and really try to bring families back to Thomson.”

Melon Days originated as a time for the community to come together to celebrate the fall harvest and all the hard work the farmers had put into the season.

However, this year has been a tough go for local farmers because of dry conditions and high summer temperatures which is why Whitten believes the celebration is even more necessary.

“It has been a tough year for all the farmers, but that’s really all the more reason to kick back and have a good time,” Whitten said.

Guests can relax during a camel ride, pony ride or train ride, or put their feet up while listening to some local bluegrass music. There will be a total of five bands that will perform on Saturday, all with their own style but with the roots of bluegrass highlighting the day.

Three of the five bands are close to the Thomson area, but the two highlights of the evening, the Giving Tree Band and Hill Benders, will travel to take part in the event.

“The Giving Tree Band is a pretty well known group out of Chicago and they have actually opened for some huge acts,” Whitten said. “But the real highlight of the night will be the Hill Benders from Missouri.”

For the cost of $7 a person, or $12 a family, people from all over are encouraged to attend the event that Tyler says is aimed to promote family and friendship in the Thomson area.

“We’ve always just wanted an event where we could bring families and the community together and create memories, here at our place,” Tyler said.