Elgin International Festival adds events for second year
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The second annual Elgin International Festival, or iFest, will feature new elements this year, including an international martial arts demonstration and a kite decoration contest, all while working with a slightly smaller budget than last year, organizers said.
The festival, taking place noon to 11 p.m. Saturday at Festival Park, 132 S. Grove Ave., will also include an international food court, a world market, a parade and all-day music from around the world.
"Preparations are going wonderfully well. We're looking forward to having a big crowd at the festival," festival co-chairwoman Danise Habun said. "We have great entertainment lined up for people. Great food, great exhibits, lots of things for people to do, a great parade. It's going to be a wonderful day."
There will be a display of internationally themed kites, an artists' kite design contest, and a make-your-own-kite area for kids, Habun said.
People won't be able to fly their kites, however. "There's only so much space in Festival Park, so the kite demonstration is limited to the south side of the park," she said.
The martial arts demonstration will include tae kwon do, jiu jitsu, judo, karate and more, with chances for spectators to participate, she said.
The KidZone area was expanded to include more games, artifacts and arts and crafts representing 27 countries from around the world, Habun said. "It will be about looking, touching, feeling and creating," she said.
The parade, whose grand marshal will be longtime resident Ernie Broadnax, will be twice as long as last year's, Habun said. Broadnax is a member of one of the first African-American families to settle in Elgin, she said.
iFest also will include a domino tournament organized by the Puerto Rican Heritage Organization. The tournament traditionally was the "staple piece" of the summer festival PRHO held for 20 years, the last one in 2012. This year, the organization won't have its summer festival, and instead joined in iFest.
This year's fundraising came just short of last year's, festival co-chairman Gil Feliciano said.
The city of Elgin donated $20,000 in cash — same as last year — plus in-kind donations such as police officers' time, and organizers raised an additional $25,000, he said. This year there are more sponsors, but each gave smaller amounts, he said. Sam's Club has been a major sponsor both years.
"I'm really, really proud of what we can offer. We're putting on a better festival with less money," he said. "It took a lot of creative thinking, a lot of begging with entertainers, a lot of negotiating, and some lucky breaks."
Fundraising should start earlier next year, before major corporations set their annual budget in December, Feliciano said. He also hopes for more financial support from the city of Elgin.
Volunteers are needed, especially for setup and cleanup after. Those interested should visit elginifest.com
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