Niles Family Fun Fair and Bluegrass/Americana Festival returns

Published 9:35 am Tuesday, May 24, 2016

A year after making changes to its name and format, the Niles Family Fun Fair and Bluegrass/Americana Music Festival is returning to Niles with a wide range of family-centered activities on the menu, from live music to carnival rides to arts and crafts for children.

The free event — now in its 14th year — is sponsored by the non-profit Niles Riverfront Optimist Club with support from several business partners. It was previously known as the Niles Bluegrass Festival.

The event is scheduled to run Thursday, June 2, through Sunday, June 5, at Riverfront Park in downtown Niles.

The music portion of the festival features Grammy nominated artists The Special Consensus and Audie Blaylock and Redline as well as 13 other bluegrass or Americana artists from across the country. All performances are free and will take place in the Riverfront Park Amphitheater. For a full list of performers, visit the contest website at

“All of the die-hard bluegrass fans will know these bands, but we are going after the Millennials with the mix of bluegrass and Americana,” said T.J. Martin, event coordinator. “It is a great lineup.”

New this year is a family fun area with its own stage upon which there will be performances from touring comedian Craig Tornquist and magician The Amazing Zendor Saturday and Sunday.

The Brandywine Creek String Band, comprised of students from nearby Brandywine Middle School, will play music at both the amphitheater and on the family stage.

All music at both stages is free, although people are encouraged to bring their own chair or blanket. Bleacher seating will be available at the family stage, which will be located behind Wonderland Cinema.

“We are focusing more on families and having activities that will bring the youngsters and their parents and grandparents together,” Martin said.

Those wanting a break from the music can purchase tickets to ride the many carnival rides provided by Beer and Jessop Amusements. Wristbands for unlimited rides each day can be purchased for $20. Martin said coupons for discounts off the price of a wristband could be found at many Martin’s Super Market locations.

There will also be a communitywide pancake breakfast from 8 to 11 a.m. Saturday and Sunday under a large tent. Bingo with cash payouts will also take place under the tent all four days of the festival.

People can also shop for what Martin described as quality arts and crafts (not of the flea market variety) and purchase food and drinks from several vendors.

There will also be an arts and crafts area for children.

Amphitheater Entertainment

Thursday, June 2

4 p.m. — Open mic

5 p.m. — Lukas Simpson & Karl Eggers

5:45 p.m. — Ron Spears & Friends

6:10 p.m. — Goldmine Pickers

7 p.m. — David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition

8 p.m. — Lukas Simpson & Karl Eggers

8:45 p.m. — David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition

9:35 p.m. — Goldmine Pickers


Friday, June 3

2:30 p.m. — Open mic

3:30 p.m. — Lukas Simpson & Karl Eggers

4:30 p.m. — Ron Spears & Friends

5 p.m. — Goldmine Pickers

5:50 p.m. — David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition

6:40 p.m. — Lukas Simpson & Karl Eggers

7:20 p.m. — David Parmley & Cardinal Tradition

8:10 p.m. — Goldmine Pickers

9 p.m. — Cornmeal


Saturday, June 4

11 a.m. — Brandywine Creek String Band (Brandywine Middle School students)

12 p.m. — The Redbuds

1 p.m. —Deadwood

1:50 p.m. — Riverbend

2:50 p.m. — Lonesome Meadow

3:50 p.m. — The Redbuds

4:40 p.m. — Audie Blaylock & Redline

5:40 p.m. — Deadwood

6:30 p.m. — Riverbend

7:30 p.m. — Lonesome Meadow

8:30 p.m. — Audie Blaylock & Redline

9:30 p.m. — Slim Gypsy Baggage


Sunday, June 5

12 p.m. — Bucktown Ramblers

1 p.m. — Lonesome Meadow

1:50 p.m. — Audie Blaylock & Redline

2:40 p.m. — Calabogie Road

3:30 p.m. — Lonesome Meadow

4:25 p.m. — Special Consensus

5:25 p.m. — Calabogie Road

6:10 p.m. — Special Consensus

7 p.m. — Audie Blaylock & Redline


Family Stage Entertainment

Saturday, June 4

12 p.m. — Brandywine Creek String Band

1 p.m. — Comedian Craig Tornquist

3 p.m. — The Amazing Zendor (magician)

5 p.m. — Comedian Craig Tornquist

7 p.m. — The Amazing Zendor (magician)


Sunday, June 5

1 p.m. — The Amazing Zendor (magician)

3 p.m. — Comedian Craig Tornquist