Elgin plans outdoor concert in August
The city of Elgin is planning a new internationally themed concert with food trucks and a beer tent during the weekend of Art & Soul on the Fox in August.
The concert would take place at Festival Park the evening of Aug. 5, in the middle of the two-day art festival. The city plans to use $30,000 that had been budgeted for iFest, or International Festival, which will not be held this year.
The city council voted in favor of the plan at Wednesday's committee of the whole meeting in an 8-1 vote, with council member Toby Shaw voting "no."
City staff members had recommended putting the $30,000 aside and using it for a "revamped" iFest next year, but council member Tish Powell convinced her colleagues the money should be put to use this year.
The purpose of iFest, created in the wake of the economic downturn, was to stand in for a variety of multicultural festivals that the city had co-sponsored over the years. iFest did not have the nighttime entertainment for adults that Fox Fire Fest, Fiesta Salsa, BoriquaFest and others offered, Powell pointed out.
"That is the thing that people ... go out of Elgin to participate and enjoy," she said. "And we really shouldn't do that in our community."
Grand Victoria Casino sponsors summer concerts at Festival Park, but it's typically rock music that doesn't appeal to everyone, Powell said. The casino hasn't released its concert schedule for the year.
Council member Carol Rauschenberger agreed. "I feel like iFest didn't quite take off the way it should. And I feel like Art & Soul isn't (as) punchy as it used to be. Maybe we have to re-look at things, at what we used to have and what is happening."
Art & Soul on the Fox is organized by the group Art for All, whose president, Karen Castillo, gave a thumbs-up to the plan.
"With the elimination of iFest this year the proposal has the makings of a great alternative, and our hope would be that it might increase attendance at the art fair, too," Castillo said.
City staff members said a promising option for the concert is the multicultural band Funkadesi. The band did not respond to a request for comment Thursday.
This year, the city also will hold another new event, a family festival Aug. 26 at Settlers Park, 3046 Sutton St., in an effort to be more inclusive of residents of the west side.