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updated: 9/6/2013 9:38 AM

Bad weather interrupted Buffalo Grove Days

Fest organizers reflect on using emergency plan

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  • Rubber ducks are scooped up as they flow out of a pool by Rotary member Carey Savitt during the Rotary Rubber Duck race on the fifth and final day of Buffalo Grove Days Monday. The event was moved from Buffalo Creek due to low water levels in the creek.

       Rubber ducks are scooped up as they flow out of a pool by Rotary member Carey Savitt during the Rotary Rubber Duck race on the fifth and final day of Buffalo Grove Days Monday. The event was moved from Buffalo Creek due to low water levels in the creek.
    Bob Chwedyk | Staff Photographer

 
 

For the first time in 20 years, Buffalo Grove Days was interrupted by bad weather twice in one weekend, forcing organizers to dust off and put their emergency plan into action.

The five-day festival wrapped up Monday with a carnival, arts and crafts fair, food tent, martial arts demonstrations and other activities.

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"We've always been very fortunate," said Paulette Greenberg, event co-chairwoman for the past 20 years. "We've never had to use the weather plan."

Fierce winds and lightning strikes forced organizers to shut down the festival for a couple of hours on Friday night and for an hour-and-a-half on Sunday night. Festival-goers had to be evacuated from the grounds north and south of Lake-Cook Road between Buffalo Grove Road and Raupp Boulevard.

While the crowd was only about 100 people on Friday night, thousands had to be evacuated from the field during the American English concert Sunday night. The band played four songs before the crowds were herded into four buildings on-site.

"It was a very bad lightning storm," Greenberg said. "It took us 20 minutes and we moved 8,000 people."

Though some vendors were irked, a majority of the participants were understanding about the situation, Greenberg said.

"Safety is more important than people being upset about their beer sales being cut off for a few hours," she added. "We had to get people off the field. It was just too dangerous, we couldn't take the chance. I think our emergency plan worked perfectly. Everyone cooperated very nicely."

Roughly an hour later the crowds were allowed to return to the field for the fireworks show at 9:30 p.m.

Earlier on Sunday, a parade along parts of Bernard Drive, Raupp Boulevard and St. Mary's Parkway went off without a hitch with appearances by the iconic miniature vehicles driven by Shriners International, "American Idol" star Haley Reinhart, dozens of local organizations, and musicians, poms team and cheerleaders.

The rest of the festival went off as planned with only minor glitches, such as the Buffalo Grove Rotary- sponsored duck race being held in a pool instead of Buffalo Creek because there wasn't enough water in the creek, Greenberg said.

"The kids liked it," Greenberg said. "It was a lot safer than chasing someone falling into the creek. The Rotary is looking at doing that pool thing again."

Greenberg said it's still too early to say how the event did financially. Buffalo Grove Days is not designed to be a moneymaker, and receipts pay for the $50,000 cost of putting on the festival.

"We went over 200,000 in ticket sales for the carnival," she said. "The carnival (was) packed on Monday. It was a long wait for rides. Sixty percent of the sales for the carnival came in Sunday and Monday."

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