Veterans to be honored at this year’s Itasca Fest
At this year's Itasca Fest, festival-goers can marvel at the Washington, D.C., World War II Memorial.
In replica form, that is.
If you go
What: Itasca Fest
When: 6:30 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12; 9 a.m. to midnight Friday, July 13; 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, July 14; and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 15
Where: Washington Park, Irving Park Road and Rush Street
Cost: Free; carnival wristbands $18 at ticket booths, $14 in advance at village hall, Itasca Community Library or Itasca Park District
Pillars of Honor Inc. transports an original scale model of the World War II Memorial, designed by renowned architect Fredrick St. Florian, to veterans at local events. The visits include a formal presentation of the colors, live patriotic musical performances, a historical presentation of the memorial, guest speakers, members of the military and representatives from various veteran service organizations.
"The average age of the World War II veterans is now 89 years old," said Dan Kompanowski, special events coordinator and Itasca Fest chairman. "Many of these veterans aren't healthy enough to do Freedom Flight, so it's an opportunity for them to be honored."
The memorial program is just one of the attractions at this year's Itasca Fest, which could draw as many as 50,000 people to Itasca's Washington Park during its four-day run. Festival hours are 6 to 10:30 p.m. Thursday, July 12; 9 a.m. to midnight Friday, July 13; 8 a.m. to midnight Saturday, July 14; and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 15.
Attendees can visit the classic car show Sunday, which has been a part of Itasca Fest for the past 15 years and features anywhere from 100 to 125 cars.
"It's a significant car show," Kompanowski said. "Basically, the majority of the supporters of this festival are the people of Itasca. You constantly are looking for a couple things that are free for them."
Also on Sunday, attendees can visit the health fair in the park district gym, where blood pressure checks, body fat analyses, eye exams and health screenings will be offered from 1 to 4 p.m.
Another free attraction is the flea market, where between 50 and 70 booths will sell collectibles and antiques Saturday.
Kompanowski said $18,000 was spent on entertainment strictly for kids. That includes a full carnival with wristband specials available at ticket booths for $18 Thursday, Saturday and Sunday. Residents also can buy wristbands in advance at the village hall, Itasca Community Library or Itasca Park District for $14.
The carnival will feature rides, magicians, acrobats and puppeteers, to name a few.
"It's just an amazing show," Kompanowski said. "It's probably the best kids show of any festival in the area."
Residents also can enjoy performances by eight different bands that will play throughout the festival's four days, including Blue Moon Swamp from 6 to 9 p.m. Saturday and Beatles tribute band American English from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. Sunday.
"We try and get something that is going to cover a multitude of people," Kompanowski said.
The festival started in 1990 to celebrate the village's centennial. It was supposed to be a one-year event, but it blossomed and people enjoyed it so much the village decided to make it an annual endeavor.
"It is truly a family event," Kompanowski said. "There's something for kids 2 years old to 95-year-olds. There's something for everybody, and it's just family friendly."
Kompanowski has seen how the festival serves as a reunion for students from Lake Park High School to meet and catch up.
"The people enjoy coming out here," he said. "It's a weekend where people get to see their neighbors."
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