This weekend's 32nd annual City of St. Charles RiverFest promises a variety of experiences, ranging from live entertainment to friendly competitions.
The festival will run from Friday, June 6, until Sunday, June 8, and activities are located at 10 different venues throughout St. Charles.
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City of St. Charles RiverFestWhen: June 6-8, carnival opens June 5; see schedule inside
Where: Ten venues can be found throughout the city of St. Charles surrounding the downtown area and the Fox River.
Admission: Free; fees for food, beverages, carnival rides and some activities; carnival wristbands are available for $25 from 1-5 p.m. Thursday and 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
Details: www.prideofthefox.net or (630) 296-7683.
RiverFest will also hold a Special Family Night at 5 p.m. on Thursday, June 5, for families who have special needs members, said Julie Farris, executive director of Pride of the Fox, the independent not-for-profit group that organizes the festival.
Along with the annual RiverFest traditions such as dragon boat races, which will take place throughout the day on Saturday and Sunday on the Fox River, there will be expanded features this year for visitors of all ages, Farris said.
"We really pride ourselves on having something for everyone," Farris said. "Events like RiverFest bring families together, and it is an opportunity where families can go as a group and everyone can find something to enjoy."
This year's overall theme is based on the celebratory 20 years of fantasy sand sculptures that have been created at RiverFest, Farris said.
Two record-holding teams, Team Xfinity and Team Lafarge Fox River Stone, will be competing in a sand sculpting competition throughout the weekend, Farris said. Each sculpture will be created with 20 tons of sand.
RiverFest 2014 will offer more activities for teenagers than in years past, said Vanessa Bell-LaSota, St. Charles resident and RiverFest volunteer for eight years. On Saturday night, Lincoln Park, located at Fourth and Main streets, will be the site of a "teen zone" set up for local teen bands to play.
"We wanted to create a safe haven for teenagers," Farris said. "We're giving them a fun place that is safe with activities catered to their interests."
In addition to an area for teens, Lincoln Park is considered the family-friendly venue of the weekend, Farris said. Events include family game show competitions, performances by local dance schools, a diaper dash race and a chicken sandwich-eating contest sponsored by Chick-fil-A.
The Fox River will be the site of many activities, Farris said, including a Ducky Derby, which will be held at 4:45 p.m. Sunday, and a festival-long kayak demonstration, located at the canoe launch at the Riverwalk venue, where attendees can try out kayaks for free.
Another highlight will be Swifty Swine Racing Pigs shows, held five times a day throughout the weekend at the VFW Barbecue Venue.
RiverFest attendees will participate in a worldwide trend this year, Farris said. The recently popular pop song and music video "Happy," by artist Pharrell Williams, has sparked parody music videos across the globe, and this weekend, RiverFest will join in on the fun.
"Since RiverFest is such a happy place, we're going to be making our own 'Happy' video," Farris said. She added that footage from all RiverFest venues will be included in the video.
At the Main Stage, one of the most popular venues located at the intersection of Walnut and Second avenues, bands of a variety of genres are scheduled to play throughout the weekend. From country rock to rhythm and blues to mellow beach music, "we have a little bit of everything," Farris said.
Also at the main stage is an event returning to the festival after seven years. A Bachelor Auction will be held at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, and attendees can bid on any of the 10 bachelor participants. Farris said the money spent on the auction will go toward a charity of each bachelor's choice.
Windy City Amusements will bring its carnival rides to RiverFest once again. The carnival is open during festival hours. Local residents can beat the crowds and purchase unlimited ride wristbands for $25 from 1-5 p.m. Thursday. Wristbands are also available from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Friday.
RiverFest sees tens of thousands of attendees each year -- anywhere from 30,000 to 60,000 people. That's why, Farris said, it's important to have so many diverse activities.
Bell-LaSota said each year, residents of the community come forward with more and more ideas for activities to include in the follow year's festival, and each year, Pride of the Fox and RiverFest volunteers take on the additional responsibility to make those ideas come to life.
"When you become a part of RiverFest, your world just expands," Bell-LaSota said.
Pride of the Fox is a self-sustaining entity supported through sponsorships, vendor fees and through funds from the festival's beer garden, Farris said. With the funds received from RiverFest, the group can help support 10 other nonprofit organizations, including the Kane County SWAT Team, whose officers make an appearance at the festival to interact with the public.
"We work very closely with them to make this a fundraiser for them," Farris said.
Additionally, volunteers from three other local nonprofit organizations -- Anderson Animal Shelter, St. Charles Noon Rotary Club and the Changing Children's World Foundation -- will run the festival's beer garden this year, Farris said. In turn, these organizations will receive 9 percent of the sales made from the beer tent over the weekend.
St. Charles Mayor Ray Rogina said RiverFest has always been a community-focused event that welcomes visitors. After attending the festival for many years, he added, he is extremely impressed with the volunteers, sponsors and individuals who make RiverFest happen.
"RiverFest in our town is a great opening to summer," Rogina said. "It's a very positive community event with the focus on the families."
As in previous years, admission is free at all venues. Food and beer tents are available throughout the festival.
For more information, visit prideofthefox.net or call (630) 296-7683.