As the Olympics take place in Rio, Gurnee Days celebrates summer, sports and the community.
The 44th annual summer festival, Aug. 11-14, is packed with events for all ages, including carnival rides, food, games, live music, fireworks, a parade, and more.
This year's Gurnee Days honoree and parade marshal is Don Henderson, a dedicated volunteer for many local organizations and village institutions. A testimonial dinner honoring Henderson kicks off Gurnee Days on Thursday evening.
Some of the four-day festival's most popular events include:
• Friday night's Gurnee Teen Idol, where talented teenagers compete to be crowned the top singer in Gurnee.
• Saturday's Rib Fest, sponsored by the Gurnee Exchange Club, features rib dinners, a beer garden and a rib-eating contest.
• A fireworks display sponsored by the village of Gurnee lights up the Viking Park sky Saturday night.
• The parade at noon Sunday along Old Grand Avenue features more than 50 entries, including local marching bands, floats and more.
The weekend is filled with music from local school bands to live entertainment. Friday night features the Keith Semple Band. Keith was a top 20 contender on Season 9 of "The Voice," and his band plays rock, pop and country. Saturday entertainment kicks off at 5 p.m. with R-Gang, an R&B band that plays funk and soul from the Motown era to today. At 8 p.m., Modern Day Romeos takes the stage with music from Motown and rock to top hits from the '80s to today.
Friday evening features two new family events -- a kite decorating and flying contest, and a family decathlon contest that features an obstacle course suitable for all ages.
Gurnee Days provides plenty of entertainment options for families with carnival rides, games, teen pool party, Friday movie night, the Great Gurnee Adventure, talent show, baby contest, pony rides, petting zoo and more. Other events include a golf tournament at HeatherRidge Golf Course, a 10K Race and Fun Run/Walk, a pancake breakfast sponsored by the Fraternal Order of Police and the Gurnee Days car show sponsored by the Mis-Shifts Car Club. Saturday features open houses at the village fire and police departments, and the historic Mother Rudd House, which is open for the weekend.
The Gurnee Days festival was first held in 1973. The Gurnee Days Corporation, a not-for-profit organization of volunteers, was formed in 1979 and has been planning the annual celebration ever since. The Gurnee Park District and FitNation, village of Gurnee and many local individuals, businesses and organizations partner with the Gurnee Days Corporation to fund, organize and run the festival.
For information on how to get involved, contact Gurnee Days Corporation at (847) 623-7788 or visit www.GurneeDays.com.