Wintertime daydreams about summer fun often include visions of carnivals, outdoor concerts, parades or fireworks.
West Chicago's Railroad Days celebration has it all.
If you goWhat: West Chicago's Railroad Days
When: 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 11; noon to midnight Saturday, July 12; and 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 13
Where: Reed-Keppler Park, 129 W. National St., West Chicago
The festival at Reed-Keppler Park, 129 W. National St., features a carnival, beer garden and food vendors. It continues from 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 11, with a magic show and more for the crowds to enjoy. The free festival runs through the weekend from noon to midnight Saturday, July 12, and 3 to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 13.
"We try to make sure there's enough going on that will allow you to take a break from all the challenges that life throws at us every day," said David Sabathne, CEO of the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual event. "Our goal is to create a place where you don't have to work hard to be entertained."
Because of the new ARC (athletics, recreation and community) Center at the park, the festival is in a slightly different location from past years. Still, Sabathne said, there's plenty of room for the carnival and about 15 rides.
"We didn't have to scale down the carnival at all," he said. "It will still be a great carnival."
If taking a spin on the rides makes you hungry, a dozen vendors are selling a variety of food, including Chinese, Mexican and German dishes. Visitors also will find burgers, funnel cakes, ice cream and other festival mainstays.
When it comes to live music, Railroad Days organizers have booked six acts to perform Friday and Saturday on the main stage. Lost in Time takes the stage at 5 p.m. Friday, with Blooze Brothers at 7:15 p.m. and Voyage at 9:15 p.m.
On Saturday, the Christian rock group 4th Point performs at 6 p.m. Then there will be a 7:45 p.m. show by Parallel Universe, a Red Hot Chili Peppers cover band.
Before the AC/DC tribute band Down Pour hits the stage at 9:45 p.m., there will be fireworks at dusk.
"Be there early," Sabathne advises anyone planning to watch the roughly 20-minute fireworks display.
New this year is the West Chicago DJ Fest, scheduled for 3 to 8 p.m. Sunday. DJs from throughout the area will play a variety of music.
But first, the parade -- the highlight of the festival -- steps off at 1 p.m. Sunday from Ingalton and Elmwood avenues.
West Chicago resident Ted Phillips, who has long been active with neighborhood watch and the local community emergency response team, will be the parade grand marshal. And in a nod to other residents who get training to help their neighbors during emergencies, the parade theme is "CERTainly Prepared."
"We wanted to recognize people who prepare to be of service," Sabathne said.
About 60 parade entries will travel south on Ingalton, west on Washington Street, north on Arbor Avenue and then end by the park. The procession will include politicians, fire trucks, floats and the West Chicago Community High School band.
"It's a really nice parade," Sabathne said. "And a lot of people (in the parade) hand out candy. So kids tend to show up with bags. It's like trick-or-treating without having to walk."
For details, visit westerndupagechamber.com and follow the link to Railroad Days.