McHENRY – For its 70th birthday, McHenry Fiesta Days is going to do what it does best: eat, drink, play and rock out!
This year’s 10-day event kicks off Thursday evening with Food Truck Night and bands Pirate Radio and Boy Band Review. The eating and jamming continues through the weekend with the Taste of Fiesta Days featuring an array of food for your taste buds including Chinese, pizza and barbecue. Attendees can stuff their faces while listening to the musical stylings of Modern Day Romeos and Mike & Joe on Friday night.
“I think everyone is very excited about our musical lineup this year,” said McHenry Area Chamber of Commerce Events Director Molly Ostap. “It’s a whole new group of bands coming to our stage and I think people are going to have a ton of fun.”
Saturday night features Las Vegas-based five-string violinists Femmes of Rock, but do not be fooled. These women are not your typical violin quartet.
“Queen, Metallica, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Led Zeppelin. These are just a few of the artists we cover,” said Michael Licata, Femmes of Rock drummer and manager. “People are going to be very pleasantly surprised when Femmes of Rock blows through town and does what they do. This is not Mozart. This is rock and roll.”
The group is comprised of four main violinists as well as a bass player, guitar player and drummer. The group’s renditions are largely instrumental, but some do have vocals.
Band member Chandra Meibalane has played the violin since she was 3 years old after her parents took her to a dinner concert.
“I started tapping my spoon to the beat of the music,” Meibalane said.
Shortly after, Meibalane picked up a violin and never looked back. The Evansville, Indiana, native majored in chemistry at Butler University in Indianapolis but knew she would do whatever she could to keep violin as a major part of her life.
Meibalane began playing with the band’s lead violinist and arranger, Nina DiGregorio, about 5 years ago with the Femmes of Rock forming about a year-and-a-half ago. The women have been rocking audiences across the country since.
“Growing up, I was a classical player. I was never exposed to rock so learning to play this type of music was a whole new challenge for me and it’s been very inspirational,” Meibalane said. “By the end of show, the energy from the crowd is up so high and they’re in love with us at that point. It’s so much fun and such a powerful experience that we share with the audience. People who come to see us tell us after the show that they weren’t really sure what they were in for, but that we blow their minds!”
Also new to this year’s Fiesta Days event schedule is the Beach Bash on Sunday.
The family friendly event includes free admission to the event at Petersen Park Beach in McHenry.
“We typically do a family fun day but, this year, we’re really amping it up,” Ostap said. “We’re going to have a lot of booths, face painting, a stilt walker, touch-a-truck and games. It will have something for everyone.”
Art lovers will enjoy the second weekend of events featuring a Plein Air Live Art Competition on the Riverwalk, make-your-own-craft stations along Green Street as well as the Arts and Crafts in the Park at Veterans Memorial Park. Entries from the student art show currently are on display in McHenry business windows through July 22. Awards for the Plein Air and Student Art Show competition are to be awarded after the parade July 22.
“Fiesta Days is a family friendly event that is affordable, a place where people can come out and hang with their friends and enjoy good music, good food and a great city,” Ostap said. “We’re excited to have everyone come out and enjoy everything McHenry has to offer.”