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updated: 10/10/2013 4:54 PM

Barrington Hills' annual fall fest debuts Sunday

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Barrington Hills' inaugural "The Hills Are Alive Fall Heritage Fest" Sunday afternoon will feature activities as diverse as hay rides, an exotic animal show, equestrian demonstrations, live music and even a chicken beauty contest.

The event aimed at all residents of the village will run rain or shine from noon to 5 p.m. Oct. 13 at the Barrington Park District Riding Center, 361 Bateman Road.

"We really don't have a Main Street in Barrington Hills, so the Riding Center is going to be our Main Street," Barrington Hills Village President Martin McLaughlin said.

The event is co-organized by both the village and park district, but no taxes or public funds are being spent.

In addition to company sponsorships, all members of the village board have donated $100 each of their own money, senior Trustee Fritz Gohl said.

Because this is the first time for the event and the attendance level is uncertain, McLaughlin is hoping residents planning to go can pick up tickets in advance before 4:30 p.m. Friday at village hall, 112 Algonquin Road. But for those for whom this isn't possible, a registration table will be set up at the event.

McLaughlin said he hopes the event will prove a good showcase of Barrington Hills and provide a respite from politics. Being a lifelong resident of the village himself, he said not enough residents have ever been to the Riding Center.

"I really see this as an exposition on Barrington Hills," McLaughlin said. "If you walk through this event for three or four hours, you should have a great idea of what Barrington Hills is all about. I'm hoping all sides of our community -- whatever side people think they're on -- will participate."

One tongue-in-cheek event -- the chicken beauty contest -- was inspired by McLaughlin's own neighbor, who's raised about 45 exotic chickens of different varieties.

McLaughlin had thought this a unique interest, but recently learned that about 40 other residents of the village do the same. So far, there are about 12 to 15 entrants in the contest in which the winner will be awarded a sash and many of the other accoutrements of a beauty contest.

Preregistration for the contest is being done at hillschicken@gmail.com, and on-site voting will occur between 12:30 and 3 p.m. Sunday.

The exotic animal show will run from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and pony rides from noon to 4 p.m. There will be a composting demonstration at 1:30 p.m., and music and balloon animals starting at 2 p.m.

Other activities running throughout the event include face painting, pumpkin painting, food, local beer and wine, fall treats, squad cars, and a visit from Sparky the Fire Dog of the Barrington Countryside Fire Protection District.

Because of the Riding Center's large indoor arena, all activities can be held regardless of the weather, McLaughlin said.

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