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posted: 8/10/2017 5:30 AM

Lakemoor hopes to boost crowds at fest's opening night

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  • Roasted corn is a staple at Lakemoor Fest, which starts Friday in Morrison Park. Village leaders are spending $3,000 on opening night entertainment in hopes of drawing bigger crowds.

      Roasted corn is a staple at Lakemoor Fest, which starts Friday in Morrison Park. Village leaders are spending $3,000 on opening night entertainment in hopes of drawing bigger crowds.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer, 2014

  • The annual Lakemoor Fest starts Friday, Aug. 11.

    The annual Lakemoor Fest starts Friday, Aug. 11.
    Courtesy village of Lakemoor

  • Lakemoor officials hope the addition of Modern Day Romeos to the schedule for the opening night of Lakemoor Fest helps draw more visitors to the event.

    Lakemoor officials hope the addition of Modern Day Romeos to the schedule for the opening night of Lakemoor Fest helps draw more visitors to the event.
    Courtesy of Modern Day Romeos

 
 

The fireworks show on Saturday night at Lakemoor Fest has become legendary.

Opening night of the three-day festival beginning Friday is another matter.

While tens of thousands of spectators are drawn to the shore of Lily Lake for the memorable pyrotechnics, getting people to Morrison Park for the first day of Lakemoor Fest has been a struggle.

Attendance on Fridays generally is fewer than 100. Boosting that number has been a perennial goal, so village trustee and long-term organizer Colin McIntyre has upped the ante. This year, the village is paying $3,000 for the Modern Day Romeos to perform as the headline act at 8 p.m. Friday. The band has a fan base of between 3,000 and 5,000, McIntyre said. Whether they'll travel to Lakemoor to see them is the question.

For festivalgoers, the music is free -- unless they want a beer or other alcoholic beverage. Those require a wrist band that costs $5 -- up from $3 last year -- in addition to the cost of the suds. There also are charges for the carnival and food from one of 10 vendors.

Increasing the wrist band fee is an attempt to make up for the outlay on music. But making money has never been the intent.

"Our goal at a minimum is to break even," said Village Administrator David Alarcon. "There are a lot of residents who don't come to the fest, but there are parties up and down every street."

A resident summer gathering preceded the official Lakemoor Fest, according to village Trustee Ralph Brindise, a 40-year resident.

"It used to strictly be a small-town festival, just local people," he said. "They had a watermelon-eating contest, that sort of thing."

That has changed considerably, particularly with the inclusion of fireworks. For the occasion, the village leases a peninsula of privately owned land jutting into Lily Lake. That provides a wide safety zone and allows the operator to launch bigger shells.

The show is so distracting the village gets permission from the state to close the busy, four-lane Route 120 bordering the lake so accidents don't result.

"It's probably a $60,000 or $70,000 show if was on the Fourth of July. We get it for $35,000," says McIntyre. About $20,000 of that cost is defrayed by sponsorships.

Overall, the village will spend $70,000 to $80,000 for all aspects of the event, according to McIntyre, whose kids were in strollers when he assumed the organizational role 11 years ago. But returns on food, beer sales and other revenue usually come close to offsetting that.

"The fest has never cost the village more than $3,000," he said.

That is of particular concern in a village that operates on a lean budget and has minimal staff. This year, trustees authorized hiring an events staff to be paid about $10 per hour to help with setup, traffic control and other duties.

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