Joe Nichols

Country singer Joe Nichols headlines this year’s Mahomet Music Festival, set for Aug. 23-24 in downtown Mahomet.

MAHOMET — In just two short weeks, downtown Mahomet will be filled with music lovers, food vendors, bands and more for the annual Mahomet Music Festival, which will feature country music star Joe Nichols.

And all the concerts are open to the public and free to attend. The only optional cost to enjoy the music is new this year: $10 for “pit passes” right in front of the main stage.

“This is nerve-wracking time,” Dave Parsons, music fest committee chairman, said Tuesday, with the Aug. 23-24 festival approaching quickly. Last-minute problems inevitably pop up, he added. “You take a deep breath, and you figure out a solution and then wait for the next day’s problems.

“But it’s good,” he said. “At the end of the day, nobody will see the little hiccups. We’ll get it fixed.”

The village administrative building’s grounds at 503 E. Main St. is the center of all the downtown activities. The fest also includes a carnival, beer tent, bags tournament and 9 a.m. Saturday morning parade that steps off from and ends back up at Lincoln Trail Elementary School.

Mahomet has a lot of festivals, but it’s truly known for this one.

“This is humongous. This has become Mahomet’s premier event of the year,” said Parsons, who’s been in charge of the festival committee for about 12 years. “You start to hear more and more people talk about the fact that this is the big event. This is kind of East Central Illinois’ big event. This is the big one.”

“This really is kind of the one that really showcases Mahomet,” he added.

Local leaders heading up the festival planning expect between 8,000 and 10,000 people to flock to downtown for the two-day festival. The cost to put on the musical event is in the neighborhood of $100,000, leading to the new pit pass option for the main stage concerts this year, Parsons explained.

“We can only ask our local businesses to donate so much money. We can only ask the village to donate so much money,” he said. “We have to find every revenue source that there is. So we’re going to charge $10 this year for a pit pass.”

Organizers were reluctant to add any fee, wanting to keep the concerts completely free.

“It kind of hurt my heart a little bit to do it. (Some people say) ‘well, it’s not a free concert.’ Well, it still kind of is,” Parsons said. “It’s our growth, you know, and we have to do what we have to do.”

There will be a second stage this year for the music festival, to be centered at Sangamon On Main. Parsons noted that, for that stage, local music acts likely will be added to the festival events in coming days; he encourages people to watch the fest’s Facebook page and other social media avenues for the latest on the festival’s lineup.

More information about the music festival is available atmahometmusicfest.com.

On the main stage music roster so far this year:

Friday, Aug. 23

— 6:15 p.m., Nickel and Dimes

— 7:30 p.m., Blooze Brothers

— 9:30 p.m., Southern Accents

Saturday, Aug. 24

— 11 a.m., Building 429

— 6:10 p.m., Onoleigh Pommier

— 6:45 p.m., Feudin’ Hillbillys

— 8 p.m., SmithField

— 9:30 p.m., Joe Nichols

Nickel and Dimes

This band boasts strong blended harmonies, slick guitar and bass riffs and synchronized rhythmic beats, according to the bio on the group’s website. Members of the band are Garry Collett, Nicole Collett, Dave Cooper, Gary Wallace (Wally), and Zakk Burke. They play everything from rock to pop, country to Southern rock and more.

Blooze Brothers

One of Chicagoland’s most in-demand show bands, the Blooze Brothers has been taking the stage for over a quarter of a century, according to its website bio. Their goal is to honor the music made by the original Blues Brothers in movies, TV and recordings, and also the spirit in which they played — from Dan Aykroyd’s love of traditional blues and soul to John Belushi’s love of classic rock, the band’s website notes.

Southern Accents

This Nashville, Tenn.-based group is a tribute band to Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers. According to its website, Southern Accents is “the next best thing” to the original and is “the ultimate Tom Petty tribute band.” A press release from Southern Accents states: “Comprising six superlative musicians from Nashville’s rich music scene, Southern Accents have been bringing fans the Petty experience for the last three years, not only performing his timeless hits with exacting reverence but even looking and acting the part.” The band aims to bring to live Petty classics from “American Girl” to “Refugee,” plus older rarities and obscure B-sides.

Building 429

This Grammy-nominated Christian band has earned widespread acclaim since its 2004 debut album, from which the title track, “We Won’t Be Shaken,” went to No. 1 on radio. Its members aim to deliver lyrically driven, anthemic hit songs with a consistent message of hope along with high-energy concerts in sold-out venues internationally. Building 429 also received a 2014 and multiple 2012 “Song of the Year” Billboard Music Awards for “We Won’t Be Shaken” and “Where I Belong” respectively, two BMI “Song of the Year” Awards (“Where I Belong” in 2013 and “Glory Defined” in 2005), a 2014 “Group of the Year” KLOVE Fan Award nomination and a “Best New Artist” GMA Dove Award in 2005. RIAA-certified gold single, “Where I Belong,” further became one of the longest running Christian No. 1’s in Billboard’s history at 15 weeks.

Onoleigh Pommier

An artist who lives in Nashville, Tenn., Onoleigh Pommier is a Mahomet-Seymour High School graduate who performs traditional country songs. She also is working on her own songs and career in music.

Feudin’ Hillbillys

Led by Ryan Ideus, this band offers a lot of country, some originals, some funk, a little classic rock and a few pop culture classics, according to information on its website. They’ve opened for renowned artists including country music star Luke Bryan.

SmithField

This contemporary country music duo originated in Texas and was founded in 2011. It’s comprised of vocalists Trey and Jennifer, and took the stage by storm with their memorable music and stunning harmonies, according to their website. The pair grew up together and, after one year in Nashville, Tenn. SmithField has opened for artists including Kane Brown and Scotty McCreery. The act mixes Trey’s rock influenced background and Jennifer’s penchant for classical country.

Joe Nichols

Country music star Joe Nichols began his career in 2002 with “Man With a Memory” and has tallied six number one songs and eight Top 10s, including “Brokenheartsville,” “The Impossible” and “Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off.” According to his website biography, he’s a three-time Grammy nominee whose last album, “Crickets,” produced No. 1 songs “Yeah” and “Sunny and 75.”

His newest project is a brand new selection of old-school country music ranging from Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” to “The Rose is for Today,” originally recorded by Charley Pride. His music has been influenced by country singers including Don Williams, Keith Whitley and George Strait. His new release “Never Gets Old” continues to feature his recognizable baritone.

Duck race planned

During the festival on Saturday, the Mahomet Parks & Recreation Department will hold its annual Sangamon River Duck Race, launched from the bike path bridge that stretches over the Sangamon River. People can “sponsor a duck” for $5 each to win a $500 grand prize and numerous other prizes. Proceeds benefit the parks and recreation department and the Upper Sangamon River Conservancy.

To sponsor a duck, go to the parks and recreation office at 218 S. Lake of the Woods Road; log on tomahometrecreation.com; stop by the village of Mahomet office at 503 E. Main St. or see any USRC member.

The race begins at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, at the bridge in Barber Park, 703 S. McDougal Road in Mahomet.