Summer concert season returns in Geneva and St. Charles

After long, grueling winters, what does the arrival of warmer weather really mean to us?

It means festivals, swimming, golf, dining el fresco, gardening, youth baseball and soccer, biking, hiking, etc. The list could go on.

But at one of the most satisfying levels of summer fun, it has always meant we move our music outdoors.

This is a significant plus for those of us generally huddling in our homes for several months to avoid the bite of a winter's night.

Outdoor music takes us on a journey to another place. It tells us it is OK to get out the lawn chairs and enjoy the evening. Let someone else - in this case the musicians and sound technicians - do the work.

Plenty of outdoor venues for summer music dot our landscape, but the park districts make sure we can establish a weekly summer pattern if we are so inclined.

The St. Charles Park District kicks off its Summer Concerts in the Park at 7 p.m. Thursday, June 7, at the Lincoln Park Gazebo on Main Street in front of St. Patrick's Church.

"Final Say" opens the summer series, but it's just the first say in a long summer of music.

Geneva Park District is moving its Wednesday evening summer concerts to RiverPark this year, with the first of four concerts taking place July 11 with "June's Got the Cash," a tribute to Johnny Cash and June Carter.

The park district moved its programs from Island Park to RiverPark this year, so it might get a tad confusing for those who attend these shows. Not only is it a new venue for this year, it also should not be mixed up with the regular RiverPark concert series, which occurs on Sunday nights, starting with a Lee Murdock concert on July 8.

Wednesday evenings will have area residents tapping their feet quite often through June, July and August at the Batavia Riverwalk band shell. Starting at 7 p.m. June 13, the River Rhapsody Concert series begins in Batavia with a performance by Red Woody. It's touted as a show that will deliver great songs from every decade.

As if that isn't enough, Geneva Commons will host its 16th annual summer concert series on the green near the bell tower for the Wednesday, Friday and Sunday shows.

That series kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Friday, June 22 with the Neverly Brothers, a band that takes us from the 1950s rock-a-billy era to the British invasion of the 1960s.

All of these summer concert series are listed on the websites of these organizations.

This doesn't even take into account that literally all of the local community festivals have live music, with ones like Swedish Days in Geneva or Windmill City Festival in Batavia, or Elburn Days having some type of music day and night. The Kane County Fair provides some decent concert nights as well.

Did I mention that a vast number of bars and restaurants in the area have live outdoor music during the summer?

Pick your concert, and we'll see you for some outdoor fun this summer.

No naked swimming:

It had been some time since we took in a local history lesson, so we hopped on the trolley car tour last weekend at the St. Charles Fine Art Show to learn a bit more about St. Charles' historic districts.

Dr. Steven Smunt, the vice chairman of the St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission, was our tour guide.

He gave a nice summary of the city's districts, various homes and buildings, with details about the architecture and history of the families that settled in these parts.

What am I most likely to remember from the tour?

It's the main reason generations of St. Charles residents didn't have to see their friends and neighbors swimming naked in the Fox River.

Turns out, Mayor James K. Lewis, who was elected in 1875 as the city's first mayor, had a pretty good view of the river back then from his home at Fifth and Walnut streets.

When peering through his binoculars, he noticed some folks had the habit of swimming naked in the river, so he set up the city ordinance not allowing such behavior during daytime hours.

So, the question among the persons on the tour centered on this: What did the mayor's wife think of him "spying" on naked swimmers in the Fox River?

They're on the run:

Young girls today may not believe this. But there was a time many, many years ago when girls didn't do much during school recess in elementary school other than stand around and talk, or maybe play hopscotch or skip rope. Some even stayed inside to help teachers clean chalkboards and such.

They were never running around and certainly not roughhousing like the boys. At least that was the case at my Catholic grade school.

Those memories crossed my mind when reader Nancy Dantino told me about the recent "Girls on the Run" event at Geneva Middle School North.

This 5K event featured girls from grades three through five from most of the elementary schools in the Geneva School District, as well as some middle school runners.

Teachers served as coaches, preparing the girls who were going to participate.

Dantino had good reason to be proud of this particular event. She had two granddaughters from Williamsburg Elementary participating, and her daughter-in-law formed a group of girls from Heartland Elementary to join in.

More on that pizza:

When we visited Chuck Grote's vendor table at the Geneva French Market more than a year ago, it was our first encounter with his Wood Fired Pizza.

Grote sells a pizza crust that you can use to bake or grill your own pizza. At that time, he was experimenting with selling complete pizzas out of Smitty's on the Corner in the evenings, hoping to attract hungry folks before or after Arcada Theatre shows.

That didn't pan out as he had hoped, but he's feeling pretty good about his latest venture - selling his pizza crust of out Ream's in Elburn.

"That is going really well," Grote said. "This gives the pizza exposure to a lot of people."

That would be true, especially since the larger Ream's location on Main Street in Elburn opened to the loyal customers and others who visit this popular meat market.

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