Lake Villa-area community agencies collaborate on fireworks show

Cooking classes and free concerts at the elegant Lehmann Mansion in Lake Villa have been popular activities in recent years, and now the partnership behind them is upping its game.

A free fireworks show July 3 at Lakes Community High School in Lake Villa will be a new public offering by a consortium of five public entities that have been collaborating on events and activities considered to have a mutual benefit for the area.

The success of what has been rebranded as Lindenhurst/Lake Villa Community Partners is allowing for the fireworks show and a beefed up concert lineup.

"We pool our resources to give residents fun, interesting activities at minimal or no cost," said David Mohr Jr., executive director of the Lindenhurst Park District.

Each partner contributes a percentage annually toward the concerts, which varies by year based on the cost of the acts and the amount of sponsorship revenue secured. Lake Villa's current contribution, for example, is about $7,000.

Mohr was new to his position in 2016 when he sought to establish relationships with other government bodies and he pitched the idea of a partnership to the villages. But at the time, Lake Villa had hired its first village administrator and a new one was just coming aboard in Lindenhurst.

"We didn't quite know how it would go or if it would continue," Mohr said of the initial partnership.

Lake Villa Township signed on and the Lake Villa District Library joined last year. The Lindenhurst-Lake Villa Chamber of Commerce also is part of the mix, working with event sponsors.

Library Director Andy Lentine said it makes sense for taxing bodies serving the same area to collaborate. The library staff, for example, helped brand events and was instrumental in the logo design.

"I believe the biggest benefit to the library is that our constituents see that different governmental entities can come together for the greater good of the community," Lentine said.

Besides providing public entertainment, events are intended to introduce residents and visitors to what the member organizations offer, as well as available goods and services, for example, Mohr said.

The Live Music in the Parks summer concerts Wednesday nights had been attracting about 500 attendees.

"Last year, we got up to 2,500. It's really drawn attention to what else is going on in Lindenhurst and Lake Villa," according to Mohr. Country act Bella Cain opens the season June 5.

As a result of the success of the concerts, the group decided to host a free fireworks show. People like to see agencies working together to keep costs low, Mohr said.

Lake Villa Village Administrator Karl Warwick said cooking classes at Lehmann Mansion have been a benefit of the partnership with the park district.

"These classes started a few years ago and have begun to really take off," Warwick said. "We had to move them into the tent and increase the maximum class size from 20 to 40."

The first offering of 2019 is "Cooking with Wine" on Wednesday.

A crowd packs the Lehmann Mansion grounds in Lake Villa last year for a summer concert Photo by Joyce Dever
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