Children squealed in excitement -- and possibly fear, too -- as they whirled around, rocked back and forth, and shot straight up toward the blue, cottony sky on carnival rides Saturday at the Lakeside Festival in Crystal Lake.
Eight-year-old Parker Swanson, of Crystal Lake, got off the Zero Gravity ride with a big grin on his face. "It was amazing," he said. "You're like, really stuck. It suctions you."
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Nearby, Brian Moritz, also of Crystal Lake, sat in the shade with his 5-month-old daughter as his three boys, ages 2, 6 and 9, made the most of their $20, unlimited-ride bracelets under the watchful eye of his wife. "They look forward to it every year," he said.
The only drawback, Mortiz said, is that organizers charge a $5 admission fee for the food, beer garden and music area. "It ends up costing a lot of money," he said.
All proceeds of the five-day festival, expected to draw about 50,000 people overall, go toward restoring the historic Dole Mansion and funding Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, which offers music and art programs and is home to the McHenry County Youth Orchestra, said festival Co-Chairman Ron Russell. Sage Products, Inc. is the event's main sponsor.
The festival has become a summer tradition for area residents, said Cate Williams, who had lunch there with her husband, John, and friends Mark and Dani Daniel.
All four had already staked out their spot along Sunday's parade route on Dole Avenue, as had dozens of other residents. "We always pick the same spots, and you get to know the people near you," Dani Daniel said.
Meanwhile, Janet Priesz, of Crystal Lake, enjoyed reading her Kindle comfortably seated in a foldout chair in a shady, grassy spot by her car, a few hundred feet away from the noise and excitement of the festival grounds. Her 12-year-old daughter was at the carnival with friends, she explained.
"We're leaving right at 4 p.m. -- not one minute later," she said, referring to the cutoff time for unlimited rides.
The Lakeside Festival continues from noon to 10 p.m. today and Monday. For more information, visit lakesidelegacy.org/lakesidefestival2011.html.