MENDON, Ill. -- Better than ever. Bigger, too.
That's what organizers are anticipating when it comes to the fourth annual Friends of Unit 4 Fall Festival, scheduled for Sept. 22 at the Adams County Fairgrounds.
"This allows people to be a part of the schools, even those who have moved away," said Tim Bealor, who serves as endowment chairman for the committee that organizes the festival. "This event has a lot of momentum, and we hope it continues for decades."
The free-admission festival serves as a fundraiser for the Mendon-based Unit 4 schools, and assists officials with repairs, buying supplies and meeting other needs within the district, such as a mentoring program.
The year's festival will run 2-8 p.m., with a noon registration for some activities and a 1 p.m. starting time for selected events like trap shooting.
The event has continued to grow and provide different offerings to keep the festival fresh.
"Fireworks will be new this year, and so is dodge volleyball," Bealor said.
Among the other activities and attractions are a food tent, bounce house, smokin' barbecue contest, bags tournament, free kids movies and games.
One of the big drawing points is always the festival raffle. This year's first prize is $10,000. For more information about the raffle and the festival, call 217-936-2804.
"Tickets are limited for the raffle," Bealor said.
The festival's first three years have raised $71,000.
"We'd like to see between $25,000 and $30,000 this year -- if we can top $30,000, I think everyone will be thrilled," said Paul Bealor, who is Tim Bealor's son and treasurer of the Friends of Unit 4 organization, which is a nonprofit entity.
Festival organizers have also established an endowment fund through the Community Foundation serving West Central Illinois and Northeast Missouri.
Paul Bealor said funds generated from the first three years of the event have been more than originally anticipated.
"That's allowed us to do more," he said.
Both Bealors are excited about the festival's immediate and long-range future.
"We're still a young organization," Paul Bealor said.
Other Friends of Unit 4 officers involved with this year's planning include president Tom Shaffer, vice president Curtis Shaffer, secretary Greta Frankel, activities chairman Jessica Carolan and board members Andy Obert, Kasey Cornwell, Kim Boccardi, Janelle Farmer and Richard Klusmeyer.