Gurnee Days will be back in August sans carnival
Another festival coming back this summer will be Gurnee Days, albeit in a modified, shorter version without a carnival.
The Gurnee Park District and the village of Gurnee jointly announced Thursday that the two-day festival, canceled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will take place over the first full weekend in August.
Susie Kuruvilla, executive director of the park district, said that delaying a decision about whether to cancel the festival paid off. The park district had imposed a June 1 deadline for itself, she said; meanwhile, Gov. J.B. Pritzker announced the state would fully reopen June 11.
"We were meeting on a regular basis, talking about it, as to when is the absolute drop-dead date that we need to take a decision by," Kuruvilla said. "The easiest thing would have been to cancel way in advance. But we know how much it means to the community and we wanted to do what's best for the community."
Gurnee Days will include a concert and fireworks Aug. 7.
A parade themed "The Great Outdoors," a car show, food booths and the Exchange Club of Gurnee's Ribfest are planned for Aug. 8.
The decision to shorten the festival and not have the customary carnival with rides and booths will allow people to spread out more on the grounds at Viking Park, Kuruvilla said.
Mayor Tom Hood said the festival is important to the village.
"We really had a high desire to see the people get out, celebrate and be able to be together," he said.
Hood said he, too, is glad the park district didn't make an early decision to cancel the festival.
"There is a pent-up desire that we are feeling (from people), and we are very much looking forward to having this," he said.
Kuruvilla said the village is in talks with bands similar to ones that have played at Gurnee Days in past years and that appeal to the general public.
"Usually we secure the band a year in advance. As soon as Gurnee Days is done, we work to secure it the next year," she said. "But we didn't want to enter any contracts because we didn't want to put any money on the table."
More details will be announced in the coming weeks, Kuruvilla said.