It's crunchtime for a club of young professionals dedicated to giving back to Naperville charities, which means it's soon to be fun time for anyone who makes the Last Fling an end-of-summer tradition.
The annual festival begins at 5 p.m. Friday in downtown Naperville with a carnival, business expo, food booths and concerts along Jackson Avenue and on Rotary Hill.
If You GoWhat: Last Fling Labor Day festival
When: 5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30 and Sunday, Aug. 31; 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1
Where: Downtown Naperville locations including Jackson Avenue, Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., and Rotary Hill, 443 Aurora Ave.
Who: Sponsored by Naperville Jaycees
Cost: Free admission, carnival rides and food for sale, concert tickets start at $10
Chad Pedigo, coordinator of this year's Last Fling sponsored by Naperville Jaycees, said months of planning by a committee of about a dozen members and 40 other volunteers is coming to a close just as summer is ending with the arrival of Labor Day weekend.
"We've spent months thinking about what worked well, what traditions do we keep alive or what new traditions do we create," Pedigo said. "Now we're into the event time. It's time to get everything going when everyone really gets excited."
Organizers said bands, races, contests, dog events, a parade and kids activities are among things to get excited about during this year's Fling, which lasts until 6 p.m. Monday.
Visitors can stroll most of the Last Fling grounds for free. The only area with an admission charge is Rotary Hill, where the main stage will be set up to host bands such as O.A.R., Smash Mouth, ARRA and 7th Heaven.
Ticket prices range from $10 for Friday general admission to $125 for VIP tickets to view Saturday's concert from the observation deck of the Millennium Carillon. Sept. 1 concerts, including a 12:30 p.m. performance by the "Singing at the Fling" contest winner, a 1 p.m. show by Jessica Rae and a 3 p.m. show by 7th Heaven, are free.
"Friday night is our first opportunity to really kick off the Fling weekend," Pedigo said about the day that will feature a 6 p.m. concert by cover band Maggie Speaks followed by an 8 p.m. performance by ARRA, whose frontman recently was named the next lead singer of Kansas. "We've made it the most affordable ticket price next to our free day on Monday, which we do for military appreciation."
Along with concerts, Last Fling-goers who love dogs can watch the Ashley Whippet World Championships of dog disc competitions from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday or participate with their pup in Four-legged Follies at 2 p.m. Saturday at Centennial Park.
Those who bring small children can visit Family Fun Land at Naper Settlement, 523 S. Webster St., for free crafts, singalongs, face-painting, Lego fun and bounce houses galore. Even babies have an event that's their speed, as the Diaper Derby, sponsored by Cafe N Play, kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday.
Crawling babies younger than 12 months can start their engines, so to speak, to dash across a 10-foot mat in the special events tent to the delight of parents and onlookers alike.
"It just seems hysterical. You put babies down that have no idea what they're doing," said Cathy Subber, who runs Cafe N Play and the Naperville Moms Network. "But its always something fun, it's something different for parents."