A guide to all the festivals the county has on tap
Eclectic is about the only way to describe McHenry County’s summer festival season.
Bed and cardboard races. Mozart and jazz. Art and BBQ.
“They’re all over the spectrum,” said Jaki Berggren, interim director of the McHenry County Illinois Convention and Visitor Bureau. “There’s something for everyone.”
With Harvard Milk Days as the unofficial kick-off June 1, the summer season is filled with unique, some high-class, and a lot of hometown events.
Among the attractions at Milk Days, aside from the popular Bed Race on May 30, are “Survivor, The Family Game Show” by magician Bob Bohm as well as the Allens Original Redwood Log House.
A traveling exhibit, the house is fully furnished and hand-carved inside a 1900 California redwood tree.
“It’s definitely different. I can’t wait to see it,” said Wanda Marzahl, office administrator for Milk Days.
The festival easily attracts at least 75,000 people throughout its weekend run, she said.
And it remains one of the few with no entry fee, she said. Organizers, mostly volunteers, begin planning the festival immediately after the previous year’s event ends.
“It’s continually changing and interesting to watch it all come together,” Marzahl said. “It’s a lot of fun.”
Along with one of the longest running festivals in the state – Milk Days, McHenry County also plays host to one of the largest – Fiesta Days beginning July 13 in McHenry.
And new to the county this year is a Blues, Brews and BBQ event hosted Aug. 3-5 by the McHenry Rotary Club, featuring bands as well as an amateur BBQ cook-off.
From hometown barbecue to world-class entertainment.
The county’s Mozart Festival, scheduled to begin July 28 in Woodstock, was recommended as a “Summer Stages” destination in the New York Times, along with Ravinia and Grant Park.
The Mozart Festival features Grammy-winning artists, said Anita Whalen, artistic and general director.
“It’s world-class,” she said. “You just can’t beat what we’ve got.”
To promote the festival season and beyond, the Visitor Bureau created a new visitor’s guide to distribute throughout the state.
Those interested in a copy can contact the bureau online at www.visitmchenrycounty.com or by calling 815-363-6177.
Berggren also recommended people follow the bureau on Facebook, where festival updates continually will be posted.
HARVARD MILK DAYS
June 1-3, throughout Harvard, including Milky Way Park, downtown and the Milk Days Grounds. (Bed Race preliminaries take place May 23 with the finals on May 30.) One of the longest running festivals. Includes a more than two-hour parade, carnival, food, fireworks, petting zoo and other animals, races, contests and entertainment. Information: www.milkdays.com or call 815-943-4404.
CARY CRUISE NIGHT
Beginning June 6 and ongoing every Wednesday through Aug. 29, downtown Cary on West Main Street. Classic car show featuring the best in hot rods, muscle cars, classic cars and more. Information: www.carygrovechamber.com
June 9, downtown Marengo. Downtown turned into a giant mini-golf course for the sixth year in a row. Play all day for $2 on holes uniquely created by local organization and businesses. Information: Marengo Main Street Office, 815-568-8440
PEDAL-PADDLE THROUGH THE PRAIRIE
June 10, Glacial Park, Ringwood. Paddlers will enjoy a scenic trip along Nippersink Creek and a bike ride. Finish with a pasta feast and listen to live music. Information: www.mccdistrict.org
RAILWAY POST OFFICE WEEKEND
June 9-10, Illinois Railway Museum, Union. Weekend operations and demonstrations of Railway Post Office railway cars with on-the-fly mail pickups. Information: www.irm.org
AMERICA’S CARDBOARD CUP REGATTA
June 23, Crystal Lake’s Main Beach
Considered the championship of cardboard boat racing with entrants building and racing boats for a variety of awards along a 200-yard course.
June 28-July 1, Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, Crystal Lake. Live music, food, Taste by the Lake, beer/wine/tropical drink gardens, carnival, parade, fireworks and tours of the Dole Mansion. Information: www.lakesidelegacy.org or 815-455-8000
ART ON THE FOX
June 30-July 1, Riverfront Park (north of Port Edward Restaurant), on the Fox River, Algonquin. Juried art show hosted by the village of Algonquin and the Algonquin Public Arts Commission. Free Admission. Information: 847-658-2700.
ROCKIN’ ROTARY RIBFEST
July 5-8, Sunset Park, Lake in the Hills
Barbecue and family entertainment. Features nationally renowned professional ribbers and bands from the Chicago area. Information: lithribfest.com or 847-742-3378.
July 8, McHenry County Historical Museum, Union. Themed “Hats Off to Home Towns,” and featuring the barbershop quartet “The Clef Hangers.” Quilt appraiser, artist and teacher Sandy Schweitzer of Crystal Lake will demonstrate a quilt bed turning featuring Civil War quilts. Pie baking contests and cake walks as well as an antique auction. Magic shows in the afternoon. Information: www.mchsonline.org or 815-923-2267
July 13-22 (Family Faith Nite on July 21) Petersen and Veteran’s Memorial Parks, McHenry. One of the largest festivals in the state, includes live music, amusement rides, arts and crafts and more. Information: www.mchenryfiestadays.com
WOODSTOCK FOLK FESTIVAL
July 15, Woodstock Square
In its 27th year, the finest in folk entertainment and great family fun. Information: www.woodstockfolkmusic.com
ALGONQUIN FOUNDERS’ DAYS
July 26-29, Towne Park, Algonquin
Carnival, Taste of Founders, live bands, cardboard boat regatta, social garden, children’s activities, games, parade, fireworks, food and more. Information: www.algonquinfoundersdays.com or 847-658-5340
BATTLE AT THE BEACH
July 23, Indian Trail Beach, 228 Indian Trial, Lake in the Hills. Battle other teams in a variety of silly and fun games. Information: www.lith.org or 847-960-7460
TRI-COUNTRY PRO RODEO
July 27-28, Milky Way Park, Harvard
Bull riding, steer wrestling, barrel racing and much more at the 2nd annual event. The only IPRA sanctioned rodeo in McHenry County. Rock/country band Smokin’ Gunz! performs Friday after the rodeo. Information: www.tricountyprorodeo or 815-943-4404
WOODSTOCK MOZART FESTIVAL
July 28-29, Aug. 4-5, 11-12, Woodstock Opera House. Guest conductor format enabling patrons to enjoy music of Mozart in different performance styles.
McHENRY COUNTY FAIR
Aug. 1-5, Route 47 and Country Club Road, Woodstock. Information: www.mchenrycountyfair.com or 815-338-5315
BLUES, BREW & BBQ 2012
Aug. 3-5, Peterson Park, McCullom Lake Road, McHenry. Amateur BBQ cook off as well as bands.
WOODSTOCK JAZZ FESTIVAL
Aug. 23-25, Woodstock Square
Promotion of jazz music in all its diverse forms and colorful history at various businesses in the Square.
Information: www.jazzonthesquare.net or 847-340-8319
LAKE IN THE HILLS SUMMER SUNSET FESTIVAL
Aug. 31- Sept. 2, Sunset Park, Lake in the Hills. Parade, carnival rides, craft show, live music, car show, games, food and fireworks. Includes Sunset 5K run/2-mile walk. Information: www.summersunsetfest.com
OLD TIME COUNTRY HARVEST FESTIVAL
October, downtown Algonquin. Farmers market, children’s games, pumpkin contest, craft fair, costume parade, build a scarecrow, historic cemetery walk and more. Information: 847-658-4184 or www.downtownalgonquin.org.
REGIONAL & CHICAGO
Beginning June 7 and running throughout the summer, Ravinia Park, Highland Park. Chicago’s “sound of summer” and the oldest outdoor music festival in the U.S. Performances on the lawn, but also at several venues, including the Pavillion, the Martin Theatre and Bennett Gordon Hall. Featured acts include Earth, Wind & Fire, Al Green, Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, Colbie Caillat and Gavin DeGraw, Glen Campbell and Ronnie Milsap, Sarah McLachlan, Demi Lovato, Seal, Macy Gray and many more. Information: www.ravinia.org
PRIDE OF THE FOX RIVERFEST
June 8-10, downtown St. Charles
Features the annual running of the ancient sport of dragon boat racing, a 40-ton Fantasy Sand Sculpture, water ski shows, canine capers & pet boutiques and an assortment of events and entertainment for all ages. Information: www.prideofthefox.com
June 8-10, Northcenter, Chicago
Features a hot blend of indie, pop, Indie Roots, rock and alternative country, as well as an average of 50,000 pounds of ribs. Information: www.ribfest-chicago.com
June 19-24, downtown Geneva
Geneva’s Midsommar Festival with a parade, food, carnival rides, live music, a craft show and many children’s games. Information: www.genevachamber.com
LONG GROVE STRAWBERRY FESTIVAL
June 22-24, downtown Long Grove
Entertainment, children’s activities and rides and all sorts of strawberry-themed foods, drinks and merchandise.
TASTE OF CHICAGO
Festival runs from July 11-15, Grant Park
June 27-July 1 and July 3-8, Marcus Amphitheater, Milwaukee, Wis.
The world’s largest music festival with headliners Aerosmith, Kelly Clarkson, Neil Diamond, Lady Antebellum, Zac Brown Band and many more. www.summerfest.com
NAPERVILLE EXCHANGE CLUB RIBFEST
June 29-July 3, Knoch Park, Naperville
Performances by Joe Nichols, Arra, Heartsfield, Leftover Salmon, Thompson Square, ZZ Top, Steve Miller Band and many more. Carnival, inflatables and circus aerial show as well as a Great American BBQ. Information: www.ribfest.net
WINDMILL CITY FESTIVAL
July 13-15, Batavia Riverwalk
Main stage entertainment, outdoor games, golf challenge, pet parade, kid’s and 5K runs, flea market and arts and craft show. Information: www.bataviaparks.org
KANE COUNTY FAIR
July 18-22, Kane County Fairgrounds, St. Charles. Information: www.kanecountyfair.com or 630-584-6926
GENEVA ARTS FAIR
July 28-29, South Third Street in the downtown historic district, Geneva
Juried outdoor gallery of fine art showcasing more than 150 artists from around the country. Mediums include photography, pottery, printmaking, glass, mixed media, watercolor, oil/acrylic, wood, sculpture and jewelry.
SUGAR GROVE CORN BOIL
July 27-29, Sugar Grove
Entertainment, arts, crafts, bingo, fireworks and a corn boil. Information: www.sugargrovecornboil.org or 630-466-5166
COON CREEK COUNTRY DAYS
Aug. 2-5, Hampshire
Information: www.hampshirecooncreekdays.com (Site not yet updated.)
Aug. 3-5, Grant Park, Chicago
ART IN YOUR EYE FINE ART SHOW & FESTIVAL
Aug. 4-5, Batavia Riverwalk
An outdoor fine art show featuring award-winning artists from around the country in a variety of media, musical entertainment and food. Information:
ON THE WATERFRONT
Aug. 3-Sept. 2, downtown Rockford
Information: www.onthewaterfront.com or 815-964-4388
FESTIVAL OF THE VINE
Sept. 7-9, downtown Geneva
Featuring wines from around the world, event includes flower market, arts and crafts show, live demonstration stage, Kids’ Patch, Fall Harvest market and live musical entertainment. Information: