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updated: 7/13/2011 3:58 PM

Vernon Hills Summer Celebreation ready to rock

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  • Carnival rides are a popular draw of Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.

      Carnival rides are a popular draw of Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.
    Steve Lundy/slundy@dailyherlad.com, 2007

  • Vernon Hills Summer Celebration begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at Century Park.

       Vernon Hills Summer Celebration begins Thursday and runs through Sunday at Century Park.
    GEORGE LECLAIRE | Staff Photographer, 2009

  • Fireworks on opening night are a tradition at Vernon Hills Summer Celebration, which begins Thursday.

       Fireworks on opening night are a tradition at Vernon Hills Summer Celebration, which begins Thursday.
    Steve Lundy | Staff Photographer, 2005

 
 

The days of heavy spending on entertainment have passed but the lineup for the annual Summer Celebration in Vernon Hills will still pack a punch.

The annual four-day festival, which runs Thursday through Sunday at Big Bear Lake in Century Park, also will have some new features including the interactive Radio Disney road crew over the weekend.

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"That will be a cool thing for kids. We're pretty excited about it," said Village Manager Mike Allison.

A cupcake decorating contest is another new activity at Kiddie Corner, which is open from 12:30 to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Several new food vendors have been added and brings the total to about 20 for the festival, which attracts about 40,000 people and is considered one of the largest events of its kind in Lake County.

There have been a few other adjustments, such as an area where businesses and nonprofits will have information available.

But basically, the long-running festival, which began in the 1980s as celebration for residents, retains the tried and true formula of food, music and entertainment.

"During the darkest days of budget review there was always a desire (by the village board) to hold the event," Allison added.

Hours are 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. to midnight Friday; Noon to midnight Saturday; and, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday at Century Park on Lakeview Parkway just north of Route 60. Visit www.vernonhills.org for a detailed schedule of times and attractions.

Though organizers have dabbled in musical themes, the core always has been rock and this year is no exception.

The headliner this year at 9 p.m. Saturday is Blue Oyster Cult, which had a No. 12 Billboard hit in 1976 with "Don't Fear the Reaper" and has released nearly two dozen albums since its debut in the early `70s.

Fans will note that original singer Eric Bloom and guitarist Donald "Buck Dharma" Roeser are still on board. The opening act is 25 or 6 to 4, which pays tribute to the band Chicago.

For local flavor, Vernon Hills residents play in Mr. Slate, which opens the musical entertainment at 7 p.m. Thursday and the traditional fireworks display sets the pace at 9:30 p.m.

Once again the Run From the Cops 5K benefit run gets out of the gate at 8 a.m. on Sunday.

On another note, the village for the first time is concentrating on social media with advertisements running continuously on two 52-inch jumbo screens in the food and beverage tent. Merchants will have QR or quick response codes displayed on a board beneath the screens that can be scanned by smart phones for more information.

The entertainment budget this year is about $39,000, well below earlier years, particularly the watershed 50th anniversary bash in 2008. Overall, the village will spend about $132,000 on the event.

"It comes very, very close to breaking even. It's a really, really good event for the community," said village Trustee Thom Koch.

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