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updated: 7/5/2011 5:30 PM

Frontier Days sees record-breaking attendance

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  • Aaron Kohlberg, 17, of Rolling Meadows has a cool job at Frontier Days on a very hot summer day, loading ice and keeping all the vendors supplied.

       Aaron Kohlberg, 17, of Rolling Meadows has a cool job at Frontier Days on a very hot summer day, loading ice and keeping all the vendors supplied.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Large crowds invade the third day of Arlington Heights Frontier Days on a very hot summer day.

       Large crowds invade the third day of Arlington Heights Frontier Days on a very hot summer day.
    Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

 
By Zuzanna Skwiot
zskwiot@dailyherald.com

Frontier Days in Arlington Heights saw record-breaking attendance for the five-day Fourth of July festival which ended Monday, officials said.

An estimated 150,000 people attended the 36th annual festival, which wrapped up Tuesday with the traditional cleanup day at Recreation Park.

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"It went very well," said LeAnn Lenz, a co-chairwoman on the Frontier Days board of directors. "It was so patriotic and really beautiful."

Since Frontier Days Inc., is a nonprofit organization, all festival proceeds after expenses go toward seed money for next year.

Some years, the organization has also donated excess funds to local not-for-profits, but it is too early to know if that will happen this year, she said.

Lenz said the festival drew visitors from out of state, as well.

"I didn't realize how much people look forward to this," she said. "People come from out of town specifically for the festival. They make a vacation out of the festival."

Since the weather cooperated, everything went on as scheduled. The festival's main stage featured performances by Lee Greenwood, Gin Blossoms, Kansas, Lonestar and American English.

The festival also introduced some new events in addition to its long-running traditions. A trivia contest and a rib eating contest brought large crowds of participants and viewers.

"People loved the rib-eating contest," said Janelle Kulisch, a co-chairwoman. "We had a lot of participants and the crowd was really into it. They were cheering the whole time."

The annual Citizens with Disabilities Day also drew more than 1,000 people.

"We had free carnival rides and food (during the Citizens with Disabilities Day)," said Kulisch, who has been with the organization for 17 years. "It's really a great event for disabled people and their families."

The Stampede Run and Kids Dash had a 30 percent increase in participation this year.

According to Race Director Craig Carlson, 1,600 people ran in the 5K and 10K races and 170-200 joined the kids race.

"We're getting a reputation from the running community for being one of the best small races in the Chicago area," said Carlson.

This year also marked the first time the race used a chip-based timing system, allowing for more precise time recording and increasing the race's credibility in the running world.

Mark Rouse, a runner in the 5K race, said that the prizes and food after the race also made it fun to participate in. Participants ran through nearby Arlington Heights neighborhoods and were welcomed at the finish line with snacks, merchandise and rewards.

"It was a great race and the amenities were outstanding," said Rouse, co-owner of Runners High 'n Tri, a running store in Arlington Heights.

The festival featured all types of entertainment, ranging from sports tournaments and pony rides to a pet parade and a battle of the bands.

"This year, we were more family-oriented and had more children's entertainment," said Lenz. "The weather cooperated with us and we really couldn't be happier."

For a complete list of festival and parade winners, go to www.frontierdays.org.

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