Vernon Hills to budget for summer activities with fingers crossed

  • With fingers crossed, Vernon Hills leaders will be budgeting for Summer Celebration. If it proceeds, the long-running festival likely will be in a different format.

      With fingers crossed, Vernon Hills leaders will be budgeting for Summer Celebration. If it proceeds, the long-running festival likely will be in a different format. John Starks | Staff Photographer, 2017

Posted2/23/2021 5:15 AM

Vernon Hills isn't writing off big events this summer or fall, but whatever is held will be different from typical activities of the past.

The Arbortheater concert series and Fourth of July fireworks, for example, likely will proceed. But because of unknowns involving the coronavirus, planning events involving large gatherings is a work in progress, village officials say.


"We just don't know where things will be trending in the next few months," Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer said.

"We are cautiously optimistic that we will be able to hold some type of events. We just don't know what they will look like," he said.

Fleischhauer said the village will budget for all the events, with the outcomes determined by guidelines from Gov. J.B. Pritzker's office or the Illinois Department of Public Health.

Some decisions are fairly clear.

For example, because of the typically small attendance and large open area at the Arbortheater, proper social distancing can be maintained and the concert series likely will be held.

However, the annual Jim Heier Veterans Fishing Derby hosted every June by the village police department again will be canceled.

Holding the annual parade and activities associated with the Fourth of July may be impractical, although the traditional fireworks show in Century Park might proceed without entertainment, Fleischhauer said.

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The big question will be Summer Celebration, a multiday festival featuring multiple bands. It's one of the best-attended summer events in Lake County.

"If we are going to have Summer Celebration in some form, I don't think it will be in the format people are used to," Fleischhauer recently reported to the village board.

Fleischhauer said he has spoken to the concert promoter. Last year's event was canceled and the deposit on the bands transferred to this year. If the festival can't be held, the contracts will be transferred to 2022, he said.

Summer Celebration also features fireworks, but the village has until the end of April to cancel or reschedule the show.

"It sounds like any kind of large gatherings are not the greatest idea yet," Mayor Roger Byrne said.


Village Trustee Jim Schultz added, "I think July is being a little too optimistic. August has some potential."

Another possibility could be partnering with the Vernon Hills Park District on its annual Ribfest in Century Park.

Whether that will be held is to be determined, said Tom Ritter, superintendent of recreation.

Looking ahead, community expectations will be balanced with safety to determine what may be permissible or practical in mid- to late summer. And if nothing works out, a pop-up event this fall is a possibility.

"Everyone is just watching and waiting," Fleischhauer said. "We'll make whatever we can work."

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