The Moweaqua Pow Wow is celebrating its 40th year with a new carnival, new events, and entertainment back by popular demand. The Moweaqua Pow Wow will begin with opening ceremonies at 5:15 p.m. on Friday, June 7 and will run through at 5:45 p.m. on Sunday, June 9, climaxing with the 40th Birthday Party Celebration and plenty of cake.
The Pow Wow has the traditional festival events like a queen contest, baby contest, a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, a parade, a car show, a kiddie tractor pull, kids games, fair food, and of course Cow-a Bunga.
New this year will the carnival, and a blowout day on Sunday with a new bags tournament, two concerts, a "Live Dessert Auction" and the 40th Birthday Party.
"The big thing is the new carnival," said Stephanie Little from the Pow Wow Committee. "It will be a huge change from what we have had. The people that provided the carnival in the past decided to retire. Cinda Villanueva and others always go to different festivals in the summer and get ideas. She had seen the Conner Family Amusements and they were spoken very highly of."
Back by popular demand on Friday night will be a concert by the Natu Band and on Saturday night a concert by Eric Burgett. The NATU Band led by Natu Visinia were at the Pow Wow last year. The have opened for Eli Young Band, Parmalee, Toby Keith, David Lee Murphy, Walker Mcguire, Easton Corbin, Maddie and Tae, Cole Swindell, and many more. It's NOT Just Country, It's NOT Just Rock, It's a good time NATU be Missed!
Eric Burgett, a Latham native, grew up playing piano at his parents place, the Korn Krib, and in church. Following in the footsteps of legends like Charlie Rich, Ronnie Milsap and Phil Vasser, Burgett has taken the 88-key torch and is blazing his own trail of standout country music. Burgett has opened for Chris Stapleton, Rodney Atkins, Lee Brice, Charlie Worsham, Phil Vassar, Frankie Ballard, Jana Kramer, Craig Morgan, and Jim Brickman. This will also be a return engagement performing at the Pow Wow.
"We are excited to have them back," Little said.
Saturday will be a full day of rides, a parade, the carnival, other events and a concert, complete with the Chicken Dinner by the Moweaqua Fire Department. The Pow Wow will come back on Sunday for another afternoon chock full of activities and concerts.
While some town festivals wind down on Sunday, the Pow Wow is still going strong.
"Sunday has always worked at the Pow Wow," said Kimberly Higgins of the Pow Wow Committee. "People come by after church, still in their church clothes, and eat at the Chicken Noodle Dinner put on by the incoming junior class parents to raise money for post prom. It's pretty popular. And, we always have a gospel concert."
This year there will be a new bags tournament after Sunday dinner. Two-person teams can register for $20 and play a double-elimination tournament for cash prizes. Two Sunday afternoon concerts begin at 1 p.m.
"The bags tournament will be a lot of fun," said Higgins.
The first concert on Sunday will be performed by High Cotton Bluegrass. "This band from the flat prairie land of East Central Illinois aims at the heart of the high-lonesome sound, full of foggy bottoms and smoky mountain tops. It airs out three and four part harmonies on top of scintillating banjo, skirling fiddles and Monroe-style mandolin all played to the insistent rhythms of guitar and doghouse bass. If you need some bluegrass in your life, pick High Cotton!"
After a break for the Live Dessert Auction, The Lesters will perform the joyous and heart-warming tunes of Gospel music. "It’s a passion that began with their grandparents, Harvey and Opal Lester, in 1925. And it’s one that has endured to the third, fourth and fifth generations." For years, the Lesters had their own Gospel music show on television every Sunday morning from Meramec Caverns in Missouri. They will perform in Iowa a few days before, in Georgia on Friday night, and come to play at the Pow Wow on Sunday.
The Pow Wow will conclude on Sunday with a 50/50 drawing and the 40th Birthday Party Celebration, complete with cake.
The Grand Marshalls for this year's parade is Chansamone Haksalia and her Family. Mama Chan and he husband, Bounthieng, and their four young children came to Moweaqua in 1979 from a refugee camp in Thailand, the same year that the Moweaqua Pow Wow started. Bounthieng worked in the school district for almost 35 years and Mama Chan's Restaurant opened in 2013 and still serves 4 days a week.
The wonderful story of the Haksalia family shows how a young family coming from a war torn country with no worldly possessions can end up living out their hopes and dreams in America.
The Moweaqua Pow Wow has always been run by a committee of volunteers from the community. This year the committee includes: Cinda Villanueva, Stephanie Little. Lucas Beckman, Brenda Little, Karen Nash, Brian & Leigh Postin, Mike & Laura Seitz, Tiffi Sloan, Dana Shuster, Delaney Shuster, Suzanna Johnson, Jennifer and Madison Wall, Kenny & Linda Long, Tori Ade, Justin Harvey, Kyra Harvey, Sarah Mulligan, Kelly Lamb, Diane Signall, Don Giles, Shawn Conlin, Carissa Weakly, Kaitlin Villanueva, Justin Smith, Kimberly Higgins, and Holly Taylor.
"What was also new this year was the opening of sponsorships," Little said. "We needed it to make the Pow Wow possible. It was a big help for us."
Pow Wow sponsors include: Gold-JCG Midwest, Moweaqua Lions Club, Moweaqua Pharmacy, Rork's Pok, Seitz Funeral Home, Shelby County State Bank, Stiner's Plumbing; Silvber- DMJ Construction, Richard & Barb Gregory; Bronze- Ayars Bank, Assumption veterinary Clinic, Blessed Bargains, Central Illinois Title Company, DeWitt Savings Bank First Christian Church, Grace Baptist Church, Jordan Auction Service, Legacy Grain Cooperative, Little Accounting Services, Gene Lower Insurance & Real Estate, Moweaqua Memorial Post 2705 VFW, Moweaqua Paint & Body Shop, Sloan Implement Company, Timi's Tours.