How rising river level may affect West Dundee Heritage Fest

Heritage Fest usually brings excitement with the changes in events during the three-day party.

This year, it may even be more exciting with more changes.

Recent rainstorms have officials watching the Fox River's level, hoping it will not continue to rise and put many events in a soaking jeopardy. Although no changes in locations have been decided, they are being considered, said West Dundee Village Manager Joseph Cavallaro.

“We are working on a contingency plan in case the wet weather continues,” he said. “Nothing has been decided yet.”

Even if the sun starts to shine, the water level may take days to drop in Northern Kane County.

The possible changes will be determined on Wednesday, Sept. 12, two days before heritage Fest begins, if the river continues to rise, said Kim Tibbetts, a leading organizer.

“Postponing Heritage Fest is not a possibility,” she said. “There are too many players and too much at stake. Everything is already scheduled.”

West Dundee trustees host Heritage Fest. Every year, they buy rain insurance in case storms hamper attendance and force them to cancel. The policy helps the village recover some of the financial losses. The rain has to fall during the September festival, not before, though.

If the Fox continued to rise or stays high, some events may be moved across West Main Street and staged on higher ground.

The village has continued its riverwalk to the south side of Main Street. Also, trustees have paid for paving a new parking lot along First Street.

Attractions, such as the stage for musical groups, traditionally are held on the north side of Route 72, so trustees can show off the improvements they have made to their banks along the Fox River, but they are prone to flood in heavy rains. Planners do not want revelers to slosh though puddles of water.

Safety is the main concern, Cavallaro said. Electricity is needed for the stage, along with tents that house organizations selling items, crafts and food.

Water and electricity do not work together well.

Nonetheless, the three-day festival will go on and include the usual attractions, such as the Friday night fireworks display over the Fox River, free musical entertainment, a car show on Sunday, craft booths and a community breakfast on Sunday.

“We've also expanded our attractions for children with sporting events on Sunday,” Tibbetts said. “They will include soccer, lacrosse, basketball and handball. There will be sports camps for children 2-5 years old. They will be lead by professional instructors.”

Heritage fest will not include a parade this year, though. The parade is planned by Dundee-Crown High School for its homecoming. This year, homecoming is a week after the festival.

For a complete list of events and their locations, along with the latest updates, visit the festival's website at You can also find festival information on Facebook.

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