West Dundee Heritage Fest is on, with a few pandemic modifications
With warm weather predicted for the weekend, West Dundee officials are hoping for a good turnout at Heritage Fest, which returns for its 23rd year. The festival takes place 6-11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 17; 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18; 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 19, in downtown West Dundee. Highlights include a business expo Friday through Sunday; fireworks at 8 p.m. Friday over the Fox River; music from Modern Day Romeos at 9 p.m. Friday and Hi Infidelity at 9 p.m. Saturday on the main stage downtown; food and drinks; Lions Heritage Fest 5K along the Fox River at 8 a.m. Saturday; art and craft fair on Saturday and Sunday along the Riverwalk; a car show on Saturday and Sunday on South Second Street; and a pancake breakfast at 8 a.m. Sunday in downtown.
The Daily Herald checked in with Village Manager Joe Cavallaro to learn more about this year's plans.
Q. What is new or different at Heritage Fest this year?
Cavallaro. We are attempting to maintain Heritage Fest largely in the same fashion and form as it was pre-COVID. There are however, a few changes this year.
Due to uncertainty regarding attendance and volunteer availability, we have downsized the event somewhat this year by focusing attention in the immediate downtown area, centralizing the sale of pop and water, and eliminating activities and entertainment that have traditionally taken place at Grafelman Park. We have also eliminated the amusements near the Main Stage.
Additionally, a shuttle for off-site parking at Spring Hill Mall will not be made available to spectators. This shuttle service will be restricted to the craft fair vendors who park off-site.
A new addition is the availability of breakfast offerings by Cub Scout Pack 43 at the car show.
Q. How is the village adapting the festival this year for the pandemic?
Cavallaro. In order to better facilitate social distancing for both participants and spectators, we have provided additional space between each food vendor and within the Business & Not-For-Profit Expo. We have eliminated hands-on activities for kids and inflatables to minimize high-touch surfaces, per the current IDPH and KCHD guidelines.
Masks will be encouraged through signage throughout the fest, and we have encouraged our vendors, volunteers and staff to wear masks while interfacing with the public or in close proximity to others.
In addition to portable sinks adjacent to the portable restrooms, hand sanitizer stations will be made available throughout the festival area.
Q. What are some highlights this year or things you'd urge visitors to check out?
Cavallaro. This year's event includes a large arts and crafts fair and car show on both Saturday and Sunday. Also, (people will enjoy) the Dundee-Crown Homecoming Parade at 1 p.m. on Sunday, as well as live music and food throughout the entire weekend in the municipal parking lot north of Route 72, between 1st and 2nd streets in downtown West Dundee.
We would also encourage attendees to patronize our downtown businesses, including Elder & Oat coffee shop, Around the Corner Candy, our dining establishments, and retail establishments such as The Half Full Nest and Boxwood.
Q. Any tips for attendees to make the most of their visit?
Cavallaro. Just a reminder that beverage sales, as well as many of the food and craft offerings, are cash-based. An ATM is available across the street at First American Bank. Those who wish to consume alcohol should secure their tickets and $1 wristband earlier in their day to avoid longer lines and wait times in the evening hours.
A wide variety of domestic and craft beers, seltzers, wine and cocktails will be available to attendees over age 21 who wish to partake. Please note that alcoholic beverages must remain within the main tent/stage area. Soda and water will be sold in the main festival area on a cash basis (no tickets needed).
Parking is on a first-come, first-served basis, both in terms of street parking and the municipal parking lots. A large municipal parking lot is available south of Route 72, between 1st and 2nd streets in downtown West Dundee. Handicapped accessible parking is available at the First American Bank parking lot on North 2nd Street, as well as in each of the municipal parking lots.
For details, visit www.wdundeeheritagefest.org.