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Article updated: 7/6/2011 2:30 PM

Batavia festival offers activities for all ages


Variety is the key word at the Windmill City Festival in Batavia, which features activities ranging from a 5K race to an ice cream eating contest to a bags tournament.

The two and a half day festival kicks off at 5 p.m. Friday, July 8, and continues through Sunday, July 10. Admission is free but costs may vary for certain activities and food items.

Allison Niemela of St. Charles, director of marketing and public relations for the event, said there is an activity for every age group.

"This festival caters to infants because we have the diaper derby, teenagers with the ice cream eating contest and parents with the bags tournament," Niemela said. "Plus we have the arts and crafts fair for the seniors. So we really have something for everyone."

The ice cream eating contest, on Sunday at 4 p.m., is popular with a wide range of ages, according Craig Foltos, master of ceremonies for the event.

"It's fun to see kids with ice cream up their nose," Foltos said. "But I love seeing someone from the audience come participate, like someone you wouldn't expect. When a grandma just walks up and starts eating the ice cream, it's great. You're never too old to do stuff like that."

There is a separate division for adults in the ice cream eating contest, which is Superman flavor. Anyone who wants to participate can enter the day of the contest; there is no fee. Competitors must eat one scoop of ice cream without the use of hands.

Foltos said he tries to get the participants excited but also the crowd involved because it helps improve the competitive atmosphere.

Another activity that appeals to young and old is the "Toss for a Cause" bags tournament. It was originally meant for adults, but kids wanted to get involved as well, so it was changed to 14 and older last year.

Matthew Ellmann of Batavia, treasurer for the Batavia Parks Foundation, organizes the bags tournament. Ellmann said it's fun to see the different ages of pairings.

"Last year we had a senior citizen who wanted to play but didn't have a partner and a 15-year-old who wanted to play so we matched those two together," Ellmann said. "Wide range of ages come together, which makes it special and provides a competitive flavor."

The talent for the bags tournament varies but Ellmann said he hears people say, "We lost miserably, but we had a great time," which Ellmann said is the most important aspect of the event.

The bags tournament is open for preregistration and costs $25, but Ellmann said the majority enter the day of the contest, which is 4 p.m. Sunday. There are teams of two and the tournament has around 20 to 30 teams registered each year.

Ellmann said first and second place usually win a cash prize depending on how many teams sign up. The rest of the money helps fund a playground at Engstrom Park in Batavia.

The festival is filled with new activities as well, including the Youth One Mile Run for ages 3 and older that will follow the Fox River Trail at 6 p.m. Friday. Niemela said this race was by popular demand for people who did not want to run the 5K run that takes place on Friday at 7 p.m. Runners for both races can sign up the day of the race.

New activities also include a Guitar Hero competition from 8-10 p.m. Saturday and a cheesesteak eating contest sponsored by Jersey Mike's Subs set for 2:30 p.m. Sunday.

"I grew up in Batavia so (this festival) always has a special meaning to me," Foltos said. "People should be proud of the community that they live in and they can show that by participating in the festivals."

For details, call (630) 879-5235 or visit bataviaparks.org.

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