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posted: 7/15/2013 6:00 AM

Blues Traveler headlines the festival on Saturday

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  • Ride enthusiasts enjoy the "Predator" during the Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.

      Ride enthusiasts enjoy the "Predator" during the Vernon Hills Summer Celebration.
    Joel Bissell | Staff Photographer, 2012

  • The Flying Dragons ride at last year's Summer Celebration in Vernon Hills.

      The Flying Dragons ride at last year's Summer Celebration in Vernon Hills.
    Gilbert R. Boucher II | Staff Photographer, 20


What began as a neighborhood gathering in the early days of Vernon Hills has evolved over the years to a four-day event exceeded in attendance perhaps only by the Lake County Fair.

Vernon Hills' Summer Celebration again will be in full swing Thursday, July 18, through Sunday, July 21, at Century Park on Lakeview Parkway, north of Route 60. There will be a variety of music, food, rides and attractions.

"About 20 years ago, it started to get big," Village Manager Mike Allison said.

Visit for a full schedule of events and other information.

Popular cover bands Modern Day Romeos and Mike & Joe are scheduled to alternate sets Friday night. Blues Traveler, who had a Top 10 hit and snared a Grammy with "Run Around" in the mid-90s, is the headliner Saturday.

But each day is filled with plenty of live music and other activities, including the traditional fireworks show at 9:15 p.m. Thursday.

And while there aren't any major changes in store, some interesting tweaks are planned. For example, for the first time, organizers will be holding a bags tournament. Online signup is available.

"We're doing a lot of social media. We're trying to get the word out so the younger people are aware of what's going on at Summer Celebration," said Joe Hoffmann, who for many years has been a member of the committee that oversees the annual festival.

About 15 food vendors are expected and Small Town Brewery in Wauconda will be serving something a little different.

"We'll be serving a new beverage this year: 'Not Your Father's Root Beer,'" Hoffmann said. "It's a root beer beer."

Kids offerings both weekend days will feature A to Z Entertainment, crafts, face painting and balloon animals. On Sunday, a trivia game show for parents and children and a petting zoo will be added to the mix.

"We're always trying to think of ways to improve," said Kathy Zerillo, secretary/children's entertainment director.

After a few tight years, the budget for the annual event has increased to about $159,000, Allison said. Cost of the musical entertainment and production is about $88,000, up from $65,200 in 2010.

As local festivals and fairs go, attendance at Vernon Hills is considered among the highest.

"I say we're the second largest event in Lake County, behind the Lake County Fair," Hoffmann said. "We put on a great show. We try to get some pretty decent entertainment. It's all free, there's no charge."

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