Bands, food, fun fill summer festivals in county

Odds are McHenry County’s summer festival season has something to suit your tastes, musical and otherwise.

Performances celebrate Mozart, jazz, folk, ’80s hair bands, Bruce Springsteen, heavy metal, independent songwriters, local bands. Name a musical style, it’ll be here, along with everything else.

Art, antiques, sports, agri-tourism, even pickles will be on display.

It’s an eclectic sort of mix, but it works, organizers say.

“McHenry County continues to grow and position itself as an event destination for locals as well as out of town visitors,” said Laura Witlox, manager of group sales for the McHenry County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

With a full festival season kicking off this weekend with Milk Days in Harvard, and including a couple of new events this year, the area draws locals along with those living in Rockford, Chicago and beyond, she said.

Events, such as the Woodstock Mozart Festival, are affordable, despite being world class, she said.

“You’re paying a sneeze to see some really fabulous artists,” she said.

For many, the festivals, such as McHenry Fiesta Days, Lakeside Festival and America’s Cardboard Cup Regatta in Crystal Lake, the Rockin’ Rotary Ribfest in Lake in the Hills and Algonquin Founders’ Days, have become tradition.

Tribute acts and others, such as Queensryche, Modern Day Romeos, 7th Heaven and The Lounge Puppets, are bound to draw crowds throughout the area.

And new this year is the Discovery Music Festival, hosted by singer/songwriter Cassandra Vohs-Demann’s A Place to Shine Music. The festival will feature independent singers and songwriters as a celebration of music and the arts, as well as up and coming musicians.

Also making its debut is the Tour De Crystal Lake, hosted by the McHenry County Convention and Visitors Bureau. Pro male and female cyclists will race at speeds exceeding 35 mph while others take part in a family fun race and bike rodeo. The event includes musical entertainment, sales, drinks and more in downtown Crystal Lake.

In its second year, the Woodstock Pickle Palooza hosted by Claussen Pickle looks to show off popular local acts, such as Josh Scholl, The University, Suburban Cowboys, Spoken Four, Johnny Russler and the Beach Bum Band and Wedding Banned.

Scaled back to a single day this year and with a new location, the festival is more focused, said Shari Gray, executive director of the Woodstock Chamber of Commerce, which hosts the event.

“Everything is about pickles,” she said.

Pickle Eating, Pass the Pickle and Find the Pickle contests take place throughout the day.


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