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Weekend festival welcomes 100 years

Published: Friday, Sept. 20, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Lathan Goumas –
Juan Savino Jaurez of Fantasy Amusement Company puts together a carnival ride as workers set up for the Crystal Lake Centennial Celebration Kick-Off Festival at Three Oaks Recreation Area in Crystal Lake.

After 100 years in the making and 365 days of planning, the Crystal Lake Centennial Celebration is set to start Friday at Three Oaks Recreation Area.

George Koczwara, deputy city manager for Crystal Lake and member of the Crystal Lake Centennial Committee, said nearly 150 volunteers have donated their time, skills and money in the past year to make this weekend's kickoff festival a reality, along with the dozens of other celebratory events that will take place through September 2014.

"Our hope is to do two things with this festival," Koczwara said. "One is to let people know that Crystal Lake will be celebrating its 100th year all year long, and the second is for people to have fun."

Festivities will start at 4 p.m. Friday at the Main Stage area, with Jimmy Nick and Don't Tell Mama performing live music before Pirates Over 40 takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. The featured attraction of the first night will be tethered hot air balloon rides from 6 to 7 p.m. The festival closes at 11 p.m. Friday.

Saturday will be the festival's longest day, running from noon to 11 p.m. Five bands will perform on the Main Stage, headlined by Modern Day Romeos at 7:30 p.m. The Beach Area – where admission is free throughout the festival – will have family activities from noon to 6 p.m.

Entertainment at the Beach Area includes carnival rides, magicians, clowns, kite demonstrations, "Star Wars" characters and fireworks on Saturday night.

Sunday will be a shortened schedule, with the festival running from noon to 6 p.m. Three bands will perform on the Main Stage, with Libido Funk Circus headlining while more family activities will take place at the Beach Area.

Admission is $5 to the Main Stage for adults, with free entry available to those 16 and under, seniors and people with military IDs. Parking is $10 on-site, but a free shuttle service will run from the old Walmart.

Local food vendors and a beer and wine garden will be available throughout the festival.

Centennial Committee member Laura Witlox said the festival is a great way to introduce people to local businesses that will be on hand providing food and refreshments while showcasing one of the city's nicest areas. She said she has heard many people are planning to use the event for family and friend reunions.

"I think overall we just wanted to create that family-fun atmosphere, an all-ages mentality," Witlox said. "That's what we're looking for."

Longtime resident and committee member Bob Blazier, who has resided in Crystal Lake for half of the 100 years it has been a city, said the weekend festival would be a special event.

While the city hosts annual festivals and community events, Blazier said the meaning behind the festival and the true community effort it took to make it all happen shows why Crystal Lake is a special place to live.

"I have been involved with a lot of committees and events and I've never seen anything like this," Blazier said. "Everyone has communicated, no one has dropped the ball and everyone is just so excited about it all happening."

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