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posted: 8/15/2012 2:00 PM

Lions Club's Elburn Days puts fun in fundraising

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  • Mud volleyball players Jeff Klosinski and Heather Cornell, right, play on the final day of last year's Elburn Days at Lions Park.

       Mud volleyball players Jeff Klosinski and Heather Cornell, right, play on the final day of last year's Elburn Days at Lions Park.
    Mark Black | Staff Photographer

  • Senior Eva Aguilar and the Kaneland High School poms lead the band during last year's Elburn Days parade.

       Senior Eva Aguilar and the Kaneland High School poms lead the band during last year's Elburn Days parade.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

  • Ava King, 3, of Elburn attacks an icy treat during the Elburn Days parade last year.

       Ava King, 3, of Elburn attacks an icy treat during the Elburn Days parade last year.
    Rick West | Staff Photographer

 
By Hailey Czarnecki
hczarnecki@dailyherald.com

The 83rd annual Elburn Days festival, which takes place Friday through Sunday, Aug. 17-19, is a way for the community to come together for fun -- and to celebrate the Elburn Lions Club's dedication to service.

The festival, held ever since the club was established in 1929, offers a full weekend of entertainment while it raises money for international and local charities, as well as individuals in need.

"Elburn is the largest (Lions) club in Illinois and the 55th largest club in the world," board member Chris Halsey said. The Elburn club has 180 members; the next largest American Lions club is Denver, Halsey said.

Judi Day, entertainment organizer, joined the club 10 years ago because of how welcoming she found the organization. She said Elburn Days takes an entire town to make it a successful event.

"If it wasn't for our community and businesses ... we probably wouldn't have been able to do it," Day said. The community has a population of only 5,000, Day said. "When Elburn Days is on, it is suddenly a huge metropolis for three days."

Halsey said as many as 25,000 people show up for the festival.

"There's a great parade Friday night that hundreds and hundreds of people attend," Halsey said. Also, the truck pull, Beer Garden and the free entertainment keeps the crowds returning year after year, he said.

"One of the main things that make our event a success -- it's safe," Halsey said, as the grounds are private property.

A variety of activities are planned to keep festival goers busy. Day said Elburn Idol gives people the chance to become the opening act for one of the headliners throughout the weekend.

The musical entertainment is completely free. Day has been scouting bands since the last fest ended and said it is something to get excited about. The Main Stage headliners are Deep Six and Hi Infidelity on Friday, ARRA on Saturday and Back Country Roads Sunday.

Back Country Roads has played at the Elburn Days festival for the past few years, Day said. They are from the Kaneville area and started as a three-piece band. Now, the group has played at big country festivals and just released a single on iTunes, Day said.

The community stage gives people a chance to showcase their talents for a crowd. Some performances include the Empower Dance Company, M&M Dance Exhibition and Kaneland High School cheerleaders Saturday and Sunday.

On Friday and Saturday there will be rummage, book, bake and sidewalk sales and a flea market outside the park. A pancake breakfast, hula-hoop contest and a 5K run and mile walk are scheduled for Saturday inside the park.

On Sunday, the morning will begin with a community worship followed by a charity race. Later, a mud volleyball tournament, free hip-hop class, ice cream eating contest and bingo will happen throughout the park.

People can also enjoy the carnival and craft show during the weekend.

Enter the car raffle and a 50/50 drawing any time during the weekend and the winners will be chosen at the end of the event.

When the weekend ends, the board will meet up again to discuss what the donations will go toward.

"We always have a charity that we'll help out," Halsey said. Many of the donations in the past have helped to fund glaucoma screenings, guide dogs, visually and hearing-impaired aids, juvenile diabetes research and local community programs.

"If the individuals in the world were all like Lions members we wouldn't have any problems," Halsey said.

The club holds other fundraisers throughout the year. One spaghetti dinner in July raised $7,000 to help a young girl receive a much-needed service dog, according to organizers.

The Elburn Lions club teamed with the junior Leo club to fundraise for the girl who has many medical issues. That is the exact purpose of Lions Clubs everywhere -- to help those in need.

Halsey has been involved with the club since 1996. He said he believes the club attracts members who want to make a difference in the world.

"At the end of the day, if I sit back and reflect on what we did that day, it's the fact that you made a positive difference to somebody's life," he said.

Elburn Days will take place at Lions Park, 500 S. Filmore St., Elburn. Admission is free. For a complete schedule of events, visit elburnlions.com.

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