Thousands are gearing up for what officials say will be an exciting weekend of festivities in Arlington Heights with the Mane Event, Taste of Arlington Heights and Community Day at Arlington Park all leading up to next weekend's Arlington Million horse race.
Tonight's Mane Event will feature more than 80 vendors at a business expo, including 24 food sellers, said Jon Ridler, executive director of the Arlington Heights Chamber of Commerce. The Mane Event also has pony rides, jump houses, live music and entertainment for the whole family.
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Typically the Mane Event has been held the night before the Arlington Million, the showcase event at Arlington Park. But this year the Mane Event will take place a full week in advance to give the public more time to celebrate before the Arlington Million on Saturday, Aug. 18, Ridler said.
"It's going to be great. This way we're not competing with what the racetrack is trying to do, we're just enhancing the lead-up to the big day," Ridler said. "We're happy to be a part of that kickoff and to help get people excited for the week ahead."
Saturday's Taste of Arlington Heights, which is 3-9 p.m., will give residents a chance to sample food from different styles and cultures around the village with more than 20 food vendors on hand as well as live music and performances from the Final Five acts competing in Suburban Chicago's Got Talent.
The winner of the talent contest will be named at 6 p.m. and more live entertainment will continue the rest of the night.
People who stop by the chamber of commerce booth Friday or Saturday and sign up for their online coupon and incentive program will get a promotional bag full of offers and be entered in a drawing for an Apple iPad.
Both Friday and Saturday festivals will take place in downtown Arlington Heights near Vail and Campbell.
The celebration moves over to Arlington Park on Sunday for Community Appreciation Day. Residents can get four free tickets for Sunday's events at Arlington Park by going to the chamber website.
With sun in the forecast, Ridler said the weekend will be a great end-of-the-summer bash.
"We've been planning this all year," Ridler said, adding the chamber has worked with Arlington Heights' special events commission. "You put a lot of work into this, so when the weather looks like it's going to be perfect, it brings even more excitement to it."
Ridler said in previous years the weekend has drawn between 6,000 and 8,000 people to downtown Arlington Heights each night.
All main parking garages in downtown Arlington Heights will be open and street parking is available, but Ridler suggested carpooling or walking to the event if possible. Bikes will not be allowed in the fenced area but can be parked outside.
"It's a wonderful whirlwind of activity for the entire family," said Nancy Kluz, village community relations coordinator.