Summer lovers can welcome the season with food, song, dance and games at the eighth annual Scandinavian Midsommar Celebration.
The festival kicks off at Vasa Park in South Elgin at 2 p.m. Saturday, June 22, and runs until 9 p.m.
If you goWhat: Eighth Scandinavian Midsommar Festival, featuring food, music, dancing, Maypole raising and bonfire
When: 2 to 9 p.m. Saturday, June 22
Where: Vasa Park, 35W217 Route 31, South Elgin
Cost: $5 donation, children 12 and younger admitted free
The children's parade starts off the afternoon, with marchers in full costume. All are welcome to participate in the iconic Maypole raising and dancing. Horse-drawn wagon rides will follow the parade from 3 to 5 p.m.
New this year will be a live video link between this festival and a Midsommar festival in Sweden -- a chance to celebrate together with new friends in the old country.
At sunset, organizers will light a bonfire, which will be accompanied by a traditional toast and music.
The bonfire is a traditional summer solstice ceremony of Scandinavians. The fire was said to protect people from evil spirits that were set free as the earth turned North on its axis.
Vendors will sell traditional Scandinavian food and drink -- and hot dogs for the less adventurous -- from 2 to 6 p.m., but families are welcome to bring their own picnics to enjoy the afternoon of festivities, including a children's treasure hunt in the oak grove, Viking storytelling, a dance party and ethnic crafts, including Danish paper cutting, Swedish floral headbands and ornament making and Norwegian rosemaling.
Musical entertainment will be provided by Nordikids Children's Group, Chicago Spelmanslag and Dark of the Moon Contra-Band.
Admission is a $5 donation, free for children 12 and younger. For details, visit www.vasaparkil.com/.