Batavia's Riverwalk comes alive for Windmill City Festival
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Roger Breisch remembers how his daughter Kathryn would spend the entire afternoon at the carnival when she would celebrate her birthday at the Windmill City Festival.
"They'd get those unlimited ride wristbands and they'd ride and ride and ride, from the time they were little kids," said the 23-year resident of Batavia.
If you go
What: Batavia's Windmill City Festival
When: 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, July 12, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 13, and 12 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 14
Where: Batavia Riverwalk at Houston Street and Island Avenue
The long-running Windmill City Festival has become a tradition of the riverfront community, running from 4 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 12; 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 13; and noon to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 14 on the Batavia Riverwalk.
As the executive director for the Batavia Chamber of Commerce, Breisch now organizes all the food vendors with the rest of the chamber, spending his time at the festival assisting the vendors and running errands. Though he can't enjoy the festival the same way he used to, he still looks forward to the entertaining atmosphere.
Festival chairman Jeff Clark of Batavia agrees.
"When it all comes together and people get together and have fun, we did what we were supposed to do," he said.
In addition to a carnival and plenty of food vendors, the annual festival offers different activities and competitions each day.
Sports enthusiasts can sign up for the Windmill Whirl 5K, the Whiffle ball Home Run Derby or the Golf Challenge, all taking place on Sunday.
Families look forward to such events, so when the community asked to bring back the traditional golf challenge on Depot Pond after it was taken away a few years ago, the organizers listened, Clark said.
In the challenge, for $5 players get five balls to try to hit onto the floating green about 50 yards to 75 yards from the pond's edge, with prizes for good shots, Clark said.
Other popular events include Saturday's pet parade and Sunday's ice cream eating contest, where teams line up along a 100-foot gutter filled with hundreds of scoops of ice cream.
Another community favorite is the fire hose challenge, where teams of two, ages 5 and older, are pitted against local firefighters.
A variety of bands Friday and Saturday night and Sunday afternoon will liven the scene on the main stage, allowing time for locals to get up and dance or relax from the festival action.
The craft fair will offer an exciting lineup of vendors selling items like handcrafted jewelry and sandals, said Carla Hill, who runs the craft show.
As a resident of Batavia for 45 years, Hill remembers going to the craft show when the festival was called Boo-Boo Days, a citywide, retail-focused festival allowing retailers to sell their overstock and "boo-boos" at sale prices.
"It was great coming downtown and seeing everyone down here — there was so many people you knew," said Hill, who is the director for the Batavia Depot Museum.
The festival has evolved beyond a retail focus, but the Batavia tradition is still a hub for community members to come together and see old friends, Hill and Breisch agreed.
Breisch will stay busy helping out the food vendors throughout the festival. And after nine years, they've become his friends. He looks forward to the happy reunion with local restaurateurs, including three Mexican restaurants and a booth selling pulled pork and pulled chicken.
"What people love about the festival is coming back and seeing people that you don't see regularly — everybody shows up," Breisch said.
For a detailed list of events, visit www.windmillcityfest.com
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