Although East Dundee and West Dundee lie just a river apart from each other, the communities haven't been as close as officials would have liked.
That appears to be changing, though, as authorities from both towns are jointly holding Heritage Fest in September. In previous years, the festival has been a West Dundee affair only, but things started to change on election night in April.
“Mayor (Lael) Miller from East Dundee stopped by to see me over at Emmett's and he had indicated to me that he wanted to have a closer relationship between the communities,” West Dundee Village President Chris Nelson said. “I said, 'I'm thinking the same thing.' ”
Nelson set up a meeting with West Dundee Village Manager Joe Cavallaro and East Dundee Trustee Kirstin Wood to talk about ways the communities could collaborate.
Heritage Fest is West Dundee's largest event and it celebrates the spirit of Dundee as well as its sense of community, Cavallaro said. This year's fest runs Sept. 13 to 15. West Dundee has been holding it for 16 years, Cavallaro said.
Miller doesn't know why East Dundee hasn't been involved in the event the last several years, but he insists East Dundee is back.
“We're working hard to provide some entertaining things to do for the weekend for the residents,” Miller said.
Wood, a new trustee in East Dundee, ran on the platform of getting more people involved in the community. Heritage Fest, she said, is the village's first opportunity to do that.
“I think it's a great move on our part, with the revitalization of downtown in the next few years, we need to get people back in the downtown to see what we have to offer,” said Wood, also chairwoman of the village's community events committee.
East Dundee's involvement will include a carnival on its side of the river on Water Street and Route 72, and local business, food, jewelry and art vendors at Bartels Park with live music at the train depot.
West Dundee's tentative lineup features an art festival, a bean bag tournament, a classic car show, live music and an ice cream contest.
“We want to encourage their participation,” Cavallaro said of East Dundee. “It's nice to see that there's a willingness and a desire to participate. It'll only strengthen and grow the event.”
The towns will market the festival jointly and East Dundee will eventually post a link to the event on its website. Future collaborations could include a joint St. Patrick's Day parade and a Dickens in Dundee that extends to East Dundee.
“That type of coordination just makes sense,” Nelson said. “We have a shared heritage in many respects, settled by largely the same group of people and most river towns are usually separated into two different sections but in our case we're separated in two different communities.”Copyright © 2013 Paddock Publications, Inc. All rights reserved.