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updated: 7/26/2012 1:05 PM

Algonquin Founders' Days provides family fun

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  • A gigantic flag makes its way South along Route 31 during the parade at last year's Founders' Days Festival in Algonquin.

       A gigantic flag makes its way South along Route 31 during the parade at last year's Founders' Days Festival in Algonquin.
    Brian Hill | Staff Photographer, July 2011

  • Emma McBreen, 2, of Algonquin doesn't care for the goats tasting her hand as she feeds them in the petting zoo at last year's Algonquin Founders' Days.

       Emma McBreen, 2, of Algonquin doesn't care for the goats tasting her hand as she feeds them in the petting zoo at last year's Algonquin Founders' Days.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer, July 2011

  • Jonathan Saylor, 15, of Hampshire, enjoys the thrill ride at the carnival for special-needs kids during last year's Algonquin Founders' Days. He attended the carnival with his mom Vicki.

      Jonathan Saylor, 15, of Hampshire, enjoys the thrill ride at the carnival for special-needs kids during last year's Algonquin Founders' Days. He attended the carnival with his mom Vicki.
    Daily Herald File photo

  • Bert, 12, is sized up by the judges in his pirate costume at the dog and cat show at the Algonquin Founders' Days festival in Towne Park. Bert is owned by Matt and Jill Sarto of Algonquin and their children Gabrielle and Riley. He was adopted from a shelter when Gabrielle was only 1, and has donned many costumes with help from Gabrielle. Bert won the category.

       Bert, 12, is sized up by the judges in his pirate costume at the dog and cat show at the Algonquin Founders' Days festival in Towne Park. Bert is owned by Matt and Jill Sarto of Algonquin and their children Gabrielle and Riley. He was adopted from a shelter when Gabrielle was only 1, and has donned many costumes with help from Gabrielle. Bert won the category.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, July 201

 
By Hailey Czarnecki
hczarnecki@dailyherald.com

Family-friendly. Special-needs carnival time. Music that spans the decades. A battle of the bands contest. A 5K run.

And of course, tasty food, fun rides, contests and fireworks.

Truly, the Algonquin 53rd Founders' Days Festival is an event that has something for everyone, which is what festival planners want.

And veteran festival committee member Jerry McEvilly said the group works year-round to make that goal a reality and to give the community an affordable four days of excitement.

The festival will be Thursday, July 26 -- Sunday, July 29, in Towne Park in downtown Algonquin.

"The thing we strive for is to bring an all-around family festival," he said. McEvilly has been on the committee for past 18 years.

One way to do that is for the carnival to be open only to special-needs children and their families, for free, from 4 to 6 p.m. Thursday. "The families are really appreciative of it," McEvilly said.

"The whole essence of Founders' Days is to bring families together," McEvilly said. And with 4,000 people attending each year, that's a lot of people to keep happy. But the 200 volunteers help make it possible.

"Without volunteers, this could not happen," he said.

Daily activities include a family petting zoo, a beer garden, the Taste of Founders', a carnival and live entertainment. The six food vendors are Papa Saverio's Pizza, Windsor Fudge and Ice Cream Parlor, American Legion, Knights of Columbus, Jamba Juice and Miss Cindy's Concessions.

"We hit on every demographic possible ... during the fest there's always something that every person can enjoy," said Kent Miller, a festival committee member for 21 years.

When he moved to Algonquin in 1979, the population was very small, Miller said. "This little farm town gave me something that I wanted to give back. … I've always had fun with it."

Among his most rewarding tasks is creating the entertainment schedule for the festival.

"When I see people enjoy the music and kids' games, it reaffirms what we're doing is a good thing," Miller said.

Pirates Over 40 will kick start the music at 7:30 p.m. Thursday. Friday will feature Mike and Joe and Modern Day Romeos who will rotate for four hours starting at 6:15 p.m.

Cover bands will take over the stage on Saturday. American English, a Beatles tribute band; 25 or 6 to 4, a Chicago tribute band; and The Lounge Puppets, a tribute to '80s hair bands, will entertain crowds throughout the day, starting at 2 p.m.

But there is more than just music. The Market and Bazaar will be open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday. A dog and cat show will start at 10 a.m. with registration starting at 9 a.m. Contestants will be judged in several categories. A trophy will be awarded to the first-place winners.

The bake-off registration is at 11 a.m. and the judging starts at noon. There are six categories including a juniors section for kids in kindergarten to eighth grade. Cash prizes will be given to the first-place winners and a grand champion.

At 1 p.m., watch for an "Into the Future" bike decorating contest; registration is at 12:30 p.m. Entries are judged on creativity, best depiction of theme or originality. A winner will be chosen from each category.

A single-elimination bags tournament will begin at 7 p.m. Friday and a double-elimination tournament begins at 2 p.m. Saturday. The top three teams will win a cash prize.

"Into the Future" is also the theme of the parade, which will begin at 11 a.m. Saturday with 50 entries. This year, it will take a different route due to construction restrictions. It will start at Madison Street and end at St. Margaret Mary Church.

The whole festival is chock-full of fun, but for McEvilly, the last day is the best.

"Sunday is all about the kids," he said "It's the only day we can spend time with our families."

The Kids Kraft Korner is an interactive booth that allows children to create something to bring home. Also, it will give the businesses running the event a chance to promote themselves while the kids are busy. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Also on Sunday is the Founders' Run.

"It's pretty well attended," McEvilly said. Runners will receive a free ticket for the pancake breakfast after the race.

For the second year, Founders' Day will host the regional finals of the Illinois State Battle of the Bands Competition. The eight bands to perform on Sunday have already won local contests. The winner of this event will advance to the finals at the Illinois State Fair.

Miller said three of the bands competing are local. The Skelters and Dead Authority are from Lake in the Hills and Arkane Eaze is from Crystal Lake.

Capping off the festival -- fireworks. "Undoubtedly the best fireworks in the area," McEvilly said.

"Because we're in the Fox Valley, the echoes and the flashes just magnify so much," Miller said. "It really is a truly magnificent show."

The fireworks will be begin at around 9 p.m. Sunday at Riverfront Park.

Shuttle buses will provide free transportation approximately every 20 minutes from St. Margaret Mary School to village hall from 5 p.m. to one hour after the park closes on Friday and Saturday. On Sunday, buses will run from 7 p.m. to one hour after the fireworks end, and travel from Butera Foods and Joe Caputo's and Sons to Riverfront Park.

"We may not be the largest festival in the area," Miller said. "But we want to make it the best festival we can."

For details, see algonquinfoundersdays.com.

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