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posted: 9/13/2017 12:16 PM

Des Plaines Fall Fest brings community together

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  • Abbey Fox, 2, of Des Plaines and her dad, Michael, make their way through hanging foam tubes as they have fun at the Des Plaines Fall Fest last year.

      Abbey Fox, 2, of Des Plaines and her dad, Michael, make their way through hanging foam tubes as they have fun at the Des Plaines Fall Fest last year.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • John Vadopalas, 6, of Des Plaines says the magic word while assisting the "Magic with Keith" performance at the 2016 Des Plaines Fall Fest.

      John Vadopalas, 6, of Des Plaines says the magic word while assisting the "Magic with Keith" performance at the 2016 Des Plaines Fall Fest.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • Sylas Kazen, 7 of Des Plaines pets a skunk pelt held by Mark Pfeiffer of the Des Plaines History Museum during the Des Plaines Fall Fest at Lake Park.

      Sylas Kazen, 7 of Des Plaines pets a skunk pelt held by Mark Pfeiffer of the Des Plaines History Museum during the Des Plaines Fall Fest at Lake Park.
    Joe Lewnard | Staff Photographer

  • The Matterhorn is a popular carnival ride at Des Plaines Fall Fest.

    The Matterhorn is a popular carnival ride at Des Plaines Fall Fest.
    Courtesy of Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce

  • 7th heaven will play Sunday at Des Plaines Fall Fest.

    7th heaven will play Sunday at Des Plaines Fall Fest.
    Courtesy of Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce

  • Carnival rides are one of the top attractions at Des Plaines Fall Fest at Lake Park.

    Carnival rides are one of the top attractions at Des Plaines Fall Fest at Lake Park.
    Courtesy of Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce

 
By Mike Miazga
Daily Herald correspondent

Over the years there have been numerous variations of the "It takes a village …" proverb.

In the case of the upcoming Des Plaines Fall Fest, taking place Sept. 15-17 at the city's Lake Park, if the proverb fits, wear it.

Through a collaboration between the Des Plaines Chamber of Commerce, the Des Plaines History Center and the Des Plaines Park District, not to mention strong local corporate support and plenty of volunteer assistance, Fall Fest, now in its ninth year, continues to provide residents with an action-packed three days of family-friendly entertainment.

Festival organizers say attendance has doubled over the years, with this week's rendition expected to draw between 10,000 and 12,000 attendees.

"It's a family-oriented festival in a beautiful location," Des Plaines Park District Marketing Director Gene Haring said. "Fall Fest brings the community together."

Admission to the festival is free, as is parking. Haring noted nearby Abbott Molecular opens its parking lot (at Touhy Avenue and Lee Street) to festivalgoers. That lot can hold about 750 vehicles.

"The things that have spurred the growth are the combination of the full carnival, the kidsZone! area and the concerts, in conjunction with the free admission and free parking," Haring said.

What can Fall Fest attendees expect this year on the entertainment front?

For kids

For children, the kidsZone! area has added a climbing wall in addition to pony rides, face painting, a craft tent, an interactive PlayZone and other special kids' entertainment. kidsZone! will stay open until 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

The festival's carnival features more than a dozen rides, a special kids' midway, booths and games. From noon to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, unlimited carnival ride passes are available for $25 per person, with the carnival remaining open Sunday until 8 p.m.

On stage

Additionally, Fall Fest is again loaded with musical entertainment covering many genres. On the main stage Friday night are well-known suburban Chicago town-festival rock tribute band Infinity and Boy Band Review, which as the name suggests, is a boy-band tribute ensemble.

Saturday features the Dennis Caravello Band at 12:30 p.m., followed by Chicago area R&B dance band R Gang at 4 p.m., and Bartlett-based decades tribute band Generation at 6:30 p.m. Hi Infidelity, a local tribute band specializing in '80s rock, headlines at 9 p.m.

Artistry in Motion, the Des Plaines Park District's dance company, kicks off Sunday's entertainment at noon, followed by Nashville-based The Roosevelts and local favorite 7th heaven closing things out at 5 p.m.

"For the most part, these are local bands everybody loves to hear. They have followings and they draw well," said Haring. "7th heaven shows up and a couple thousand people will fill that space."

Food, fishing, cars

Some other Fall Fest activities include the Des Plaines History Center's Country Fair Tent, where visitors can make a corn-husk doll, and the annual pie-eating contest, plus a plethora of food and refreshments from area restaurants available for purchase at the food court near the main stage.

On Saturday from noon to 2 p.m., kids can participate in the free Lake Opeka fishing derby. A custom car show will be Sunday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Registration for the car show, which features classics, antiques, American muscle cars and hot rods, takes place on-site and trophies will be awarded for best-in-class and best-in-show.

The open air market, hosting specialty booths with unique and handmade items, will be open Saturday and Sunday from noon to 7 p.m.

A group effort

Haring stressed the large scope of Fall Fest would not be possible without the help of the many volunteers the event attracts each year.

"Volunteers are critical to the success of a festival this size," he said. "We start looking for volunteers several months before and we get excellent response from the community and from service organizations such as Rotary Club, the Kiwanis and the Chamber of Commerce."

Harring added local high-schools such as Maine West and St. Viator also have assisted with providing volunteers in recent years, with students being able to earn service-hour credits.

For more information on Fall Fest, visit www.FallFestDesPlaines.com.

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