A move to a larger location has rejuvenated Algonquin Founders’ Days, organizers say.
In its 53rd year, the festival will take place July 25-28 at Algonquin Lakes Park, behind Algonquin Lakes School at 1401 Compton Drive. Bypass construction forced the closure of Towne Park, the festival’s previous location.
More room means more carnival rides, event Treasurer Jerry McEvilly said.
“It’s considerably bigger,” he said. “There’ll be more rides that appeal to the teenagers. We were always constricted by space before. We’re kind of excited about it.”
Along with the annual carnival and event-ending fireworks, the festival features some of the area’s top bands, such as Pirates Over 40, Mike & Joe, Modern Day Romeos, 7th Heaven, Smokin Gunz and The Lounge Puppets.
With Smokin Gunz, the festival is bringing in its first country act in at least three years, McEvilly said. Mike & Joe and Modern Day Romeos are returning this year because of how popular they were last year, he said.
And on Sunday, teen bands will battle it out to advance to a Springfield competition during the festival’s Illinois Battle of the Bands.
In its fourth year, the event includes seven bands this year and gives young, local acts the chance to take the stage, event President Kent Miller said.
“For them to come to Founders’ Days and play on a 24-by-40-foot stage with a professional mixing system, that’s the biggest thing they’ve ever been involved in,” Miller said. “Just to watch their faces and how they react to that is really cool.”
The winners of local park district battles will compete for a regional spot during the Algonquin competition.
Hosted by the Illinois Park & Recreation Association, the round of competitions end with state finals in August at the Illinois State Fair. About 120 teen bands from throughout the state eventually will compete for prizes, such as studio time and band makeovers.
“It’s really a wide variety,” Miller said of Algonquin’s Battle of the Bands. “We’ve got pretty much everything from death metal to party band music.”
The event was one of the festival’s best additions and has helped round out Sunday’s family-oriented events, he said.
“It really has turned into an awesome event, with all of the families coming out,” he said.
Among the festival’s numerous other events are the Taste of Founders’, a social garden, a Dog & Cat Show, children’s games and activities, a petting zoo, a Bake Off, Founders’ runs, a pig roast, a “Wild Wild West” parade Cardboard Boat Regatta and a new Stand-up Paddleboard Challenge.
Sponsored by Alpine Accessories, the Paddleboard Challenge requires participants to have some experience.
“It’s really a lot of fun, a growing thing,” McEvilly said of the new event. “Even if you don’t want to participate, it should be fun to come down and watch.”
Last year’s festival drew at least 5,000 people throughout the weekend, he said, drawing people of all ages.
“We try to appeal a little bit to everybody,” he said.