Civil War Days canceled again, as Lake County forest preserve calls off summer events
Summer events, activities and programs that attract crowds or do not lend themselves to social distancing will be canceled by the Lake County Forest Preserve District due to concerns with the spread of COVID-19.
The lengthy list of popular summer fare that will be shut down includes Civil War Days at the Lakewood Forest Preserve near Wauconda, the beach and marina at Independence Grove Forest Preserve near Libertyville, and the outdoor concert series at Independence Grove and Greenbelt Cultural Center in North Chicago.
Also at Independence Grove, the district's busiest preserve, all rentals and permits at North Bay Shelter, the Plaza and open areas will be canceled.
The forest board's operations committee on Monday unanimously agreed with an extensive list of staff recommendations involving dozens of events, programs and facilities. The consensus does not require approval by the full forest board.
As a result of the changes, district officials estimate an "identifiable" revenue loss of $900,000. About half that loss is expected to be offset by not hiring the full complement of temporary summer help in operations, education and at facilities that offer rentals, such as Greenbelt.
Cancellations in some cases, like Civil War Days, were almost a certainty given the expected large crowds which would include a substantial at-risk population.
Last year, the two-day Civil War Days event for the first time in decades was canceled due to unspecified threats. It was expected to be back in a revised fashion this summer, but the pandemic descended before any details were determined.
Besides many re-enactors being at risk, the lack of running water at the site in Lakewood was a concern, said Nan Buckardt, the district's education director.
"The risk to the staff and public outweighs any additional benefits that program might bring," she said.
Picnic shelter rentals are also off, and the remote control airfield, youth camping areas, Adlai E. Stevenson historic home will remain closed to the public.
Some programs, like Conservation Explorers and Kids Nature Fun Fest, are canceled, while others will be modified to take place remotely or under public health guidelines at the time.
Off-leash dog parks will remain closed in accordance with guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention not to let canines interact. Dogs are allowed at forest preserves but must be on a leash.
A few users questioned the decision, but officials noted dog parks operated by Cook and DuPage forest preserves previously left open were closed last weekend.
"We're not on an island here," said Mike Tully, chief operations officer.
Lake County forest preserves and trails have remained open throughout the stay-at-home order. but officials have warned that could abruptly change if people don't obey distancing rules.
One of the few district activities allowed to take place during the stay-at-home order began Friday with the opening -- with limitations -- of the 36-hole Countryside Golf Club in Mundelein, one of the district's three courses.
District officials also hope to open the Dunn Museum at its Libertyville headquarters, but with changes such as how many people are allowed in at a time.