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updated: 9/1/2011 3:48 PM

Sling your fruit at Lake in the Hills festival

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  • Contestants shoot watermelons at 130 mph at last year's Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival.

      Contestants shoot watermelons at 130 mph at last year's Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival.
    Daily Herald Archives, 2010

  • Carnival rides, including the Zipper, are a big draw at the Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival. The annual event opens today and runs through Sunday.

       Carnival rides, including the Zipper, are a big draw at the Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Festival. The annual event opens today and runs through Sunday.
    John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2009

  • Jason Henning of Lake in the Hills takes a picture of his twins, Ashley, and Brady, both 3, at a previous Summer Sunset Festival in Lake in the Hills.

       Jason Henning of Lake in the Hills takes a picture of his twins, Ashley, and Brady, both 3, at a previous Summer Sunset Festival in Lake in the Hills.
    BRIAN HILL | Staff Photographer, 2009

 
 

Do you want to see watermelons fly through the air? Or a human being swallow fire? Or maybe you feel like checking out some local handmade crafts?

The 11th annual Summer Sunset Festival runs Friday, Sept. 2, to Sunday, Sept. 4, at Sunset Park in Lake in the Hills. The event attracted about 40,000 people overall last year, and offers free parking and budget-minded entertainment for the whole family, organizers said.

Kicking off this year's festival will be a classic and custom car show Friday night, said festival co-chair Denise Wasserman Haugk, who also serves as village clerk. The other two event co-chairs are Lake in the Hills Trustee Ray Bogdanowski and Parks and Recreation Director Trudy Wakeman.

"We don't have preregistration for the car show, we just ask people to show up," Wasserman Haugk said. "It gets pretty crowded."

A parade will kick off Saturday at 10 a.m. at Grafton Farm and Miller roads and will proceed down Miller Road for about a mile, arriving at Sunset Park at about 11:30 a.m., Bogdanowski said.

Among the parade participants will be Those Funny Little People, a mobile puppet entertainment crew, the minicars of the Roaring 57's of the West Suburban Shrine Club, the Crystal Lake Strikers' drum line, and the Jacobs High School Golden Eagle marching band.

On Saturday afternoon starting at 2 p.m., a battle of the bands and the "melon propellin'" competition are sure to attract lots of fans, as people cheer for their favorite band and watch their friends and neighbors sling the fruit, Wasserman Haugk said. An exhibition group, Acme Catapult from central Illinois, will also participate, she said.

A craft show, also on Saturday, will feature between 30 and 40 vendors selling only homemade and handmade items, including paintings, jewelry, wooden objects an more, she said.

On Sunday, the Algonquin/Lake in the Hills Chamber of Commerce will sponsor a Business Expo with about 40, mostly local businesses.

"We encourage home business, small medium or large businesses, to market their business. We don't discourage selling, but we really just want them to market themselves," she said.

And, of course, the annual "Got Talent?" competition is open to anyone with any talent, she said. Really, any talent.

"Kids, adults, teens, anyone can come. We mostly have singers, dancers, a couple of bands and a magician here or there," she said. "We'd love to see something different, anything that somebody thinks they're good at."

Volunteers and committee members will wear pink T-shirts to honor the memory of Debbie Mulcahy, who passed away in June and who co-founded the festival 11 years ago with her husband, Lake in the Hills Trustee Paul Mulcahy, Wasserman Haugk said.

"All of this is because of her and Paul, and we want to remember that," she said.

Unlike some festivals that start really small and grow over time, Summer Sunset Festival always had the same basic structure, because Paul and his wife knew from the beginning they wanted to organize something big, Paul Mulcahy said.

The Mulcahys would have celebrated their 29th wedding anniversary on Aug. 21.

"We planned the very first one for about 1 years. We said, 'We shouldn't try to do this halfway," Paul Mulcahy said. "We tried to do kind of a full-scale festival for the whole weekend from the beginning."

For festival details, see summersunsetfest.com.

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