Horizon Hobby’s RC Fest is a true hands-on celebration of the fun, power, speed and latest tech of RC. The event venue, located at Eli Field in Monticello, Illinois, is expansive, with plenty of parking and a huge aircraft hangar, paved runway, try-me tracks, an epic off-road and trail adventure area, dirt race tracks, RC crawling and pulling areas, a boat pond, a mud bog, and so much more. It’s such an epic event that I made the trek out to America’s heartland to check it out firsthand.
There is something for everyone, from seasoned RCers to beginners. Every hour of the day the place is humming with RC demonstrations and races, with an emphasis on getting transmitters in the spectators’ hands. Each day of the event is capped off with an amazing nighttime airshow and even fireworks.
RC Fest is staffed completely by the Horizon Hobby corporate team, which is out there in force—from the executive team, to product development and brand managers, to tech support and administrative staff. They do it all from demo-flying those killer Habu large-scale turbine jets to directing traffic, and everything in between.
It’s immediately evident that they are passionate about what they do. In the middle of the crowds and action you can find company president and CEO Chris Dickerson, who’s got a real hands-on work ethic himself and keeps the machine running. Chris is a big advocate of “showing the world how cool and fun RC is,” and continues to drive the Horizon Hobby mission: “Creating a successful experience for RCers, especially the newcomers.”
Many of the products being demonstrated were driven by Horizon’s SMART and SAFE technologies, which can help compensate for operator mistakes and keep enthusiasts’ RC cars, boats and airplanes in the game and the fun factor high.
What’s really cool about the event is that so many of the spectators brought their own vehicles to show off. At any given moment a cool RC semi and trailer could drive by, lights blazing and horn blaring. In fact, there are cool scale rigs everywhere you look, and it make for a great venue to show off your latest project.
If you love the smell of nitro in the morning, the dirt track comes alive with Losi 1/8-scale buggies screaming through the turns with blue smoke and power slides. The trail adventure area is off the hook and features an insane course made with 50 tons of cement and rock, plus an old vintage Jeep wreck in the middle. What a great place to test your driving skills. At all the try-me tracks, newbies with transmitters were really having quite a time. At the long jump competitions, some of the vehicles got so much big air some of them might have considered filing a flight plan!
Speaking of flying, the flight line was a never-ending parade of aerobatics, 3D flying, demos and turbine jets. Don’t be surprised if next time you attend you see a foamie Cub flying in formation with an F-18! And when the team starts spooling up those real turbines, its sounds like a full-scale Citation is in the airspace. The Horizon Flight Team is truly the best in the biz and the airshows are truly something to see! RC Fest also features a huge retail center, where you can score the latest products from all the Horizon Hobby brands—and there were plenty of show deals because the place was packed.
Kudos to the Horizon Team for another stellar, consumer-friendly event. I’ve attended some of the earlier RC Fests, and they always know how to “Wow the Crowd.”
This show has evolved into a true destination for the RC community. If you can check it out next year, you won’t be disappointed. It bears repeating: There is something for everyone there.
2023 Event Information:
Horizon RC Fest
Location: Eli Field – Monticello, IL
Date: June 9-10,2023
A SPECIAL RC EVENT
We spoke to Horizon Hobby Senior Field Marketing Manager, Andrew Ziegler, to ask what makes this event so special. Ziegler responded: “Horizon RC Fest is unlike any other RC event. Kids of ALL AGES (you know who you are!) can take advantage of all of the try-me activities, where they can drive an off-road truck, tackle the scale trails with a rock crawler, splash around the pond with an RC boat, and conquer the sky with an RC airplane. Where else can you do that and so much more? From off-road racing with world-class drivers like Ryan Cavalieri, to watching some killer events on Basher Blvd, to watching the skies being dominated by 200+ MPH jets and award-winning aerobatic performance by the best RC pilots in the world, and then capping it all of with the ever-exciting Ring-of-Fire and a spectacular fireworks display, there’s nothing else like it anywhere! Bounce houses, food trucks, on-site hobby shop, vendors and so much more. You have to be there to really experience it all. Make plans now to attend next year!”
Text by Louis DeFrancesco
Images Courtesy of Horizon Hobby