The area's largest Labor Day festival returns to Schaumburg this year, with its blockbuster list of entertainment options and family-friendly atmosphere.
From the Taste of Schaumburg, packed with 23 local restaurants, to its three stages of live entertainment, a craft fair with 250 vendors, fireworks on Sunday, a Labor Day parade and 18 carnival rides all three days, it all adds up to summertime fun.
Festival hours are 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30; 9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 31; and 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday, Sept. 1. Admission is free.
Septemberfest takes place across the rolling grounds of the 40-acre Robert O. Atcher Municipal Center, with its weeping willow trees wrapped around a scenic pond, and winding trails that weave patrons through the different festival locations.
Historians note that it was Atcher, Schaumburg's former mayor, who started the festival back in 1970 when the village received a $5,000 donation from the builders of Woodfield Mall.
Atcher decided the money should be used for a hometown celebration, and the former country music star even offered to provide some of the entertainment.
The seeds for the festival were sewn, and the tradition of bringing the community together for a last celebration of summer became entrenched.
"Septemberfest is one of the largest fests in the suburban Chicago area, which is due in large part to having enjoyed a long and successful history of more than 40 years," said Betsy Armistead, director of Schaumburg's cultural services department.
This will be Schaumburg's 44th annual Septemberfest, and village officials expect 250,000 people to converge on the festival grounds over its three-day run.
Shuttles replace on-site parking
Despite the crowds, free shuttle bus routes make getting to and from the grounds fairly easy. Remote lots are located at Schaumburg and Conant high schools, Jane Addams Junior High School, and at street corners in various neighborhoods. Detailed information can be found on the village website, www.ci.schaumburg.il.us.
New this year is a drop-off site at the festival grounds. It is located on Lambert Drive, between Summit Drive and Ashcroft Court.
"We added a drop-off site in response to past requests from patrons," said Roxane Benvenuti, special events director. "But it is drop-off only. There is no parking on the festival grounds."
One-of-a-kind arts and crafts
Many festivalgoers make the fest a full day of activities, starting with the expansive craft fair, located on the southern edge of the fairgrounds.
Arts and crafts vendors sell everything from Halloween decor to Christmas ornaments and furniture, but seasoned visitors like to search out the handmade jewelry, home décor, woodworking and sculpture, as well as unique gifts, such as porcelain Santa Claus figures, ornaments made of recycled cans and ornate bird baths made out of stone.
Perusing homemade craft items can build an appetite, and the restaurants serving up local specialties in the dining tent have the answer.
Taste of Schaumburg specialties
Patrons may choose from traditional entrees such as burgers, sub sandwiches and pizza; to more eclectic options, including orange chicken, pulled pork sandwiches and chicken and steak quesadillas. They also will find several vegetarian selections, fish tacos, crab Rangoon and pad thai tofu.
"Area residents look forward to the diversity of restaurants in the Taste," Armistead said.
Live music on three stages
Entertainment is always a big draw, and with bands playing the Miller Lite stage, the Prairie Center Music Stage and inside the dining tent -- not to mention strolling musicians -- fans will not be disappointed.
The three headliners this year include pop singer Taylor Dayne at 8:30 p.m. Saturday, with her top 10 hits "Tell it to My Heart," "I'll Always Love You," and "Love Will Lead You Back."
Brian Howe takes the main stage at 8:30 p.m. Sunday night. Howe is a former lead singer with Bad Company, singing their lead vocals from 1985 to 1995. His set will be followed by the traditional fireworks show.
The Liverpool Legends, a Grammy Award-winning Beatles' tribute band, closes the fest, playing from 8:30-10 p.m. Monday night. They have played Fab Four favorites around the world and now have their own show in Branson, Missouri.
Area's only Labor Day parade
After creating "parade shows" for the Schaumburg High School marching band to play in Septemberfest parades, former band director Kevin Miller -- now retired -- finds himself the parade's grand marshal.
He will ride in style down the two-mile parade route, while high school bands from Schaumburg, Hoffman Estates and Conant, as well as other musical groups, will carry on the show without him.
The parade steps off at 10 a.m. and proceeds down Summit Drive from Wise Road to Stock Port Lane. In keeping with tradition, Schaumburg Mayor Al Larson and members of the village board will precede the parade units, distributing candy to children and families along the route.