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posted: 7/8/2013 12:40 PM

Itasca Fest celebrates everything from carnival rides to Subarus

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  • Itasca Fest organizers say they try to offer something for everyone, but there's always an emphasis on activities for youngsters.

      Itasca Fest organizers say they try to offer something for everyone, but there's always an emphasis on activities for youngsters.
    Daily Herald file photo

  • The band ARRA will play classic rock as part of this weekend's Itasca Fest celebration.

      The band ARRA will play classic rock as part of this weekend's Itasca Fest celebration.
    Courtesy Algonquin Commons

 
By Sean Hammond
shammond@dailyherald.com

For Itasca Fest Chairman Dan Kompanowski, the goal each summer is to bring something interesting and free to the festivities.

"We want to always have something special that people don't have to spend a lot of money on," Kompanowski said. "There's always some type of attraction, like last year's World War II memorial. In the past we've had a NASA exhibit and a Vietnam Wall replica. This year the Subaru trailer will attract a lot of people."

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On Saturday, the fest -- which begins Thursday and runs through Sunday -- will feature a Subaru trailer with all manner of racing memorabilia for festival goers to see.

Also on Saturday, Subaru will be attempting to break the Guinness World Record for the largest parade of Subaru cars with as many as 500 vehicles, beginning at 9 a.m. on nearby Park Boulevard.

"They technically hold the current record with 340-some cars," Kompanowski said. "Some other town beat the record, but it wasn't officially recorded. They're shooting for 500 this year."

For those with limited interest in racing vehicles or Subaru-dominated parades, Itasca Fest has much more to offer. The festival, located at Washington Park, 350 E. Irving Road, features cash bingo and live music all four nights. Featured cover bands include The Meteors (oldies rock 'n' roll), Downpour (an AC/DC tribute), ARRA ('80s rock) and American English (a Beatles tribute).

Food vendors feature a variety of ethnic foods. The carnival is open each day of the festival and Kompanowski says the children's entertainment is usually the biggest hit.

"We probably spend the most money of any festival on the kids," Kompanowski said. "There's jugglers, stilt walkers, face painting and balloon makers. We usually have a huge magic show."

Tickets for unlimited carnival rides are available at the festival for $20.

Other big attractions include a 3-on-3 basketball tournament, an antique flea market and a classic car show.

The basketball tournament features a youth division on Friday and two men's divisions on Saturday. The flea market will take place from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday in Usher Park, 200 E. Irving Park Road.

Kompanowski said the antiques usually draw big crowds. The car show features about 100 classic vehicles and will be held from 2 to 6 p.m. Sunday, also in Usher Park.

There is a health fair in the park district gym on Sunday that will feature numerous businesses that will offer blood pressure tests and eye exams, and sell vitamins and organic food.

"It's truly a family event," Kompanowski said. "Send your kids to buy a wristband ticket, go on unlimited rides and spend the day watching the entertainment."

Entrance to the festival is free, although food and rides come with a cost. Itasca Fest is in its 24th year and Kompanowski has been involved since Day One.

"It's great entertainment for anyone from 2 years old to 90 years old," he said. "And the carnival is probably the best carnival in the area."

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