Lifestyle

McHenry County guide to summer festivals

A certain survival instinct kicks in when festivals run as long as some of those in McHenry County.

"We've weathered recession. We've weathered mistakes. We've weathered weather," said Kay Bates, president of the Chamber of Commerce in McHenry, which has hosted one of the largest festivals in the state – Fiesta Days – since 1948.

"We've definitely done well," she said.

The festival – known for drawing national music acts – is one of numerous festivals and events anticipated throughout McHenry County this summer.

From the 74th annual Milk Days opening June 5 in Harvard, one of the longest-running festivals in Illinois, and Fox River Grove's new Rock the Routes festival June 6 stretching all the way to the Summer Sunset Festival (Sept. 4-6) in Lake in the Hills and Cary's Main Street Festival (Sept. 19-20), the area offers both the unique and expected.

And it's all served up with "the quaint charm of the country out here," said Jaki Berggren, executive director of Visit McHenry County (www.visitmchenrycounty.com).

"It's Americana at its best, and it's not very far from Chicago," she said.

They're community celebrations with roots.

In Harvard, for instance, organizers will white-wash the streets in honor of Milk Days. It's all about the cow as the town celebrates its status as once producing more milk than anywhere in the country.

And it's always the place to be.

"This was something we would just automatically do," said Beverly Burkart, who grew up in Harvard and has helped organize the festival for about four years. "A lot of my classmates were [Milk Days] queens. I just always went and helped with whatever I could."

Food. Music. Art. Athletics. Cardboard cup regattas. Historic celebrations. Parades. Carnivals. It's all in McHenry County this summer, along with a few hidden gems, such as the Woodstock Mozart Festival, which runs over three weekends in July and August at the Woodstock Opera House and the Place De Musique in Barrington Hills.

"It's really a secret almost," Berggren said. "A lot of people don't even realize what it is. It's not your traditional outdoor festival. They bring in Grammy award-winning musicians from all over the world to play in the Woodstock Opera House. It's a small quaint area, just like Mozart would have played during his day."

From Mozart to country, rising star Ty Bates will perform at the ever-popular Lakeside Festival July 2-5 in Crystal Lake, and '90s hit-makers Little Texas will be at Lake in the Hills' Rockin' Rotary Ribfest, running from July 9-12.

The variety continues from country to folk and jazz festivals in Woodstock and the McHenry Rotary Blues, Brews & BBQ. And, of course, there will be rock – even hard rock. Along with Jack Russell's Great White at Algonquin Founders' Days (July 23-26), Stephen Pearcy of Ratt and Ace Frehley of KISS will take the stage at Fiesta Days, which runs from July 10-19 in McHenry. Boasting three national acts this year – up from two last year and one in previous years – the festival also will feature Sam Llanas of the BoDeans.

Frehley might not wear the makeup of KISS' heyday anymore, but that doesn't mean McHenry can't celebrate it, Bates said.

"We'll have face-painting there because we just know people are going to want to come in costume and have fun with that," she said.

The goal always is to keep the ticket prices as low as possible and, of course, to have a good time, said Bates, who's already monitoring weather predictions.

"I love the hoopla," she said.

Following are festivals and events in McHenry County this summer:

MAY

CITY OF McHENRY SUMMER CONCERTS IN THE PARK, 7:30 p.m., Bob "Beef" Freund Band Shell at Veterans Memorial Park, 3400 Pearl St., McHenry. Schedule: May 28 (at 7 p.m.), McHenry High School Jazz Band; June 4, McHenry City Band; June 11, McHenry City Band; June 18, Beatolution (Beatles tribute band); June 25, McHenry City Band; July 2, McHenry City Band; July 9, McHenry City Band; July 16, Centerfold Band; July 23, McHenry City Band; July 30, McHenry City Band; Aug. 6, Larry Briedenbach singing tribute to Frank Sinatra's 100th Birthday; Aug. 13, The New Odyssey Band (sponsored by the Downtown Business Association). Free. Farmers markets open 4 to 7:30 p.m. before concerts starting June 4. Information: 815-363-2100 or www.ci.mchenry.il.us.

JUNE

HARVARD MILK DAYS, 74th annual, June 5-7, Milky Way Park, on Lawrence Road, Harvard. One of the longest-running festivals in the State of Illinois. Harvard Milk Days offers a weekend of fun for people of all ages. Friday events will feature an Antique Tractor Display, carnival, concessions, petting zoo, entertainment, Pork Chop Revue Comedy Show and fireworks display. Saturday events include a Milsk Run/Walk and Kids Dash, Antique Tractor Display, brunch at the Moose Lodge, parade, carnival, Classic Car Show, Pork Chop Revue Comedy Show, Moo Mania Comedy Show, concessions, petting zoo, Milk Drinking Contest, Talent Show and fireworks display. Sunday events include a community church service, carnival, concessions, petting zoo, Junior Dairy Cattle Show, Antique Tractor Show, Pork Chop Revue Comedy Show, Moo Mania Comedy Show, entertainment and grand finale fireworks display. Grounds hours: 5 to 10:30 p.m. Friday, 2 to 10:30 p.m. Saturday, noon to 10 p.m. Sunday. Free admission to park grounds. Parking: $5 daily or $10 three-day pass (advance sale only). Information: 815-943-4614 or www.milkdays.com.

FIRST FRIDAYS CONCERT SERIES, 7 to 8:30 p.m. June 5, July 10, Aug. 7 and Sept. 4, Lost Valley Visitor Center patio at Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood. McHenry County Conservation District hosts an evening of music and nature. Bring a picnic dinner and hear regional musicians: June 5, Althea Grace; July 10, The Dixieland Cats; Aug. 7, The Jeff Trudell Band; Sept. 4, The Nippersink Rogues with Kingsford. Free. Information: 815-479-5779 or www.mccdistrict.org.

HOOKED ON FISHING, 9 a.m. to noon June 6, Rush Creek Conservation Area, 20501 McGuire Road, Harvard; and 9 a.m. to noon June 7, The Hollows - Lake Atwood, 3804 Route 14, Cary. Family fishing fun hosted by McHenry County Conservation District. Learn fishing techniques and safety tips. Fishing license not required. Free. Registration and information: 815-479-5779 or www.mccdistrict.org.

ROCK THE ROUTES, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. June 6, Stone Hill Center, 900 W. Route 22, Fox River Grove. Kick off the summer at "Rock the Routes." There will be a car and motorcycle show, live music, food from favorite local restaurants, fun stuff for the kids. Bands include One Step Forward, Hans and the Hormones and Alex & The Allstars. Free souvenir cups to the first 250 people. Free shuttle to and from Fox River Grove Metra. Drink tickets $5 each or five for $20. Free admission. Information: 847-858-6319 or www.facebook.com/frglivingfortheweekend.

TASTE OF DOWNTOWN McHENRY, 1 to 5 p.m. June 6, downtown McHenry. Annual event presented by the McHenry Area Downtown Business Association. Sample food and drinks from 18 downtown McHenry restaurants on Riverside Drive, Green Street and Main Street for $1 or $2. The event also features bike demonstrations and shows at Veteran's Memorial Park, live music, a special release beer from Chain O' Lakes Brewing Company and a raffle. Information: 815-385-4300 or visit McHenry Area Downtown Business Association on Facebook.

CELEBRATE LAKEWOOD, noon to 4 p.m. June 7, RedTail Golf Club, 7900 RedTail Drive, Lakewood. The annual event offers free activities for the whole family including a petting zoo, balloon twisting, face painting, moonwalks, music by Bob Bero, golf lessons, child safety-seat inspections and more. Refreshments available. Also accepting recyclable items. Free hot dog or soda with a nonperishable food donation. Information: 815-459-3025 or www.village.lakewood.il.us.

PEDAL, PADDLE, SADDLE THROUGH THE PRAIRIE, June 7, Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood. The 13th annual outdoor event hosted by the McHenry County Conservation Foundation. Paddlers can enjoy a two-hour boat trip (6 miles). Bicyclists have the option of a 12K, 20K or 30K trail ride. The third event is a 5.5-mile horseback trail ride. Cost: $25 a person, $50 a family. Registration and information: 815-759-9390 or www.mhenryconservation.org.

CONCERTS IN THE PARK, 7 to 9 p.m. Main Beach, 300 Lake Shore Drive, Crystal Lake. Schedule: June 9, Crystal Lake Community Band; June 16, Spoken Four (pop cover band); June 23, Cavern Beat (Beatles cover band); June 30, Voices in Harmony; July 7, One Foot in the Groove (classic rock); July 14, White Saddle Band (country, rock and roll); July 21, Tropixplosion (Caribbean show band); July 28, Classical Blast (rock music on classical instruments); Aug. 4, Crystal Lake Community Band; Aug. 8, Modern Day Romeos (6 p.m. at Black Diamond Blast on the Beach); Aug. 11, Bill O'Connell and the Chicago Skyliners (Big Band). Free. Information: 815-459-0680 or www.crystallakeparks.org.

WOODSTOCK CITY BAND CONCERTS, 7:30 p.m. Wednesdays, June 10 through July 29, on the Square, Woodstock. Bring your blankets and lawn chairs and enjoy one of Woodstock's longest summertime traditions. Free. Information: 815-338-5300 or www.woodstockil.gov.

CONCERTS IN THE PARK, 7 to 9 p.m. Converse Park, 551 E. State Road, Island Lake. Bring your favorite beverage and a lawn chair to enjoy three free concerts. Schedule: June 12, Pirates over 40 (Jimmy Buffet style); July 10, Brass From The Past (Motown, R&B and Chicago jazz); Aug. 14, Goin South (country rock). Information: 847-650-8410 or www.villageofislandlake.com.

ANNUAL HERITAGE TROLLEY TOUR, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. June 14, starting at the downtown Gazebo on Woodstock Street, Crystal Lake. Hop on the trolley and enjoy a 45-minute narrated tour by the Crystal Lake Historic Preservation Commission which will explore the area around Crystal Lake Central High School. Tickets: $10 available at Heisler's Bootery, 50 N. Williams St. Information: 815-479-0835 or www.crystallake.org.

ICE CREAM SOCIAL OF 1858, noon to 4 p.m. June 14, Powers-Walker House in Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood. All ages are invited to join the McHenry County Conservation District volunteers in period attire as they re-create the feel of an old-fashioned ice cream social of 1858. Registration not required. Information: 815-479-5779 or www.mccdistrict.org.

LAKE IN THE HILLS TRIATHLON, 6:30 a.m. June 14, Indian Trail Beach and Ken Carpenter Park, Miller and Randall roads, Lake in the Hills. Event includes biking, running and swimming all in one morning. Cost: $65. Registration and information: 847-960-7460, www.lith.org or www.signmeup.com/106709.

WOODSTOCK CHALLENGE ROAD RUN, 38th annual, 6:30 a.m. June 14, Woodstock Water Works Aquatic Center in Emricson Park, 1313 Kishwaukee Valley Road, Woodstock. Featuring a 10K run, 5K run/walk and 1-mile and half-mile kids/family run. A pool party is scheduled after the event. Cost: $15, $25. Registration and information: 815-338-4363, www.woodstockrecreationdepartment.com or www.signmeup.com/102335.

CONCERTS IN THE PARK, 7 to 8 p.m., Rotary Bandshell in Lions Park, 1170 Silver Lake Road, Cary. Hosted by the Cary Park District. Schedule: June 18, Teen Batte of the Bands Winners; June 25, Alex & The Allstars (the '70s to now); July 9, AC-Rock (a cappella rock); July 16, Serendipity (rock, pop); July 23, Mulligan Stew (Irish/Celtic mixed with rock, pop). Free. Information: 847-639-6100 or www.carypark.com.

SOUND BITES SUMMER CONCERT SERIES, 7 to 8:30 p.m., Village Hall, 600 Harvest Gate, Lake in the Hills. Hosted by the Village of Algonquin Parks & Recreation Department. Schedule: June 18, Steve Kessler and the Saturday June Band; July 16, Tropixplosion; Aug. 13, Soda. Free. Information: 847-960-7460 or www.lith.org.

ART ON THE FOX, eighth annual, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. June 20 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 21, Riverfront Park, 201 N. Harrison St., Algonquin. Fine art festival hosted by the village of Algonquin and Algonquin Public Arts Commission featuring art booths, hands-on demonstrations, musical entertainment and free children's art projects. Information: 847-658-2700 or www.artonthefox.com.

3DISCIPLINES ILLINOIS TRIATHLON CHAMPIONSHIP, 7 a.m. June 21, Three Oaks Recreation Area, 5517 Route 14, Crystal Lake. Featuring Olympic of Sprint course for swim, bike and run. Registration and information: 231-546-2229 or www.3disciplines.com.

ALGONQUIN SUMMER CONCERT SERIES, 7:30 p.m., Riverfront Park, 201 N. Harrison St., Algonquin. Hosted by the village of Algonquin. Schedule: June 25, Tony Ocean (jazz/blues); July 2, Senn Alan Band (country); July 9, Liberty's Teeth (pop); July 16, Gina Glocksen Band (rock/pop); July 23, Pirates Over 40 (Caribbean); July 30, R-Gang (Motown); Aug. 6, Jukebox Hero ('80s); Aug. 13, Centerfold (classic rock). Free. There will also be a variety of food trucks available each week. Information: 847-658-2700 or www.algonquin.org/recreation.

AMERICA'S CARDBOARD CUP REGATTA, 31st annual, 9 a.m. June 27, Crystal Lake's Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Drive, Crystal Lake. Considered the championship of cardboard boat racing with entrants building and racing boats along a 200-yard course for a variety of awards. In the event of inclement weather, water conditions or other, the reschedule date is July 25. Information: www.cardboardcup.com.

VOODOO A–GO–GO CHARITY CAR SHOW & CONCERT, 9 a.m. June 27, Volo Auto Museum, 27482 Volo Village Road, Volo. Third annual event benefiting the American Cancer Society featuring a traditional custom, hot rod, muscle car and motorcycle show, flame show, vendors, live bands, food and raffles. Information: 815-385-3644 or www.volocars.com.

A DAY AT PETERSEN FARM, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. June 28, Petersen Farm, 4112 McCullom Lake Road, McHenry. Annual event with a "country fair" theme this year. There will be live music, a magician, cow milking, petting zoo, hayrides, opening of the historic farmhouse and barn, children's activities, food vendors and more. Free admission. Information: 815-385-0191 or www.mchenrychamber.com.

EAA PANCAKE BREAKFAST, 8 a.m. to noon June 28, Lake in the Hills Airport, 8407 Pyott Road, Lake in the Hills. Chapter 790 of the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA) is co-sponsoring a pancake breakfast. Drive in or fly in. Tickets are $7 for adults and $4 for children. Kids under the age of 5 are free. Information: 630-872-8082 or www.790.eaachapter.org.

ILLINOIS RAILWAY MUSEUM STEAM DEPARTMENT BENEFIT, 1 p.m. June 28, Sanfilippo Estate, 789 Plumtree Road, Barrington. Fifth annual event will feature a concert and silent film with live accompaniment. Guests will be able to tour the residence and its collections prior to the 2:30 p.m. Wurlitzer theatre pipe organ concert by Dave Calendine. Raffle drawings and door prizes. Tickets: $69.99 a person in advance. No tickets will be available at the door. Proceeds will benefit the Illinois Railway Museum Steam Department. Tickets and information: 815-923-4391 or www.irm.org.

McHENRY COUNTY PATRIOT RUN, 7:30 a.m. June 28, McHenry County College, 8900 Route 14, Crystal Lake. Second annual family event featuring a 5K run and a 1-mile walk to benefit TLS Veterans and Veterans Assistance Commission. Cost: $15 for the 1-mile, $35 for the 5K. Registration and information: 815-459-1773, ext. 300 or www.mchenrycountypatriotrun.org.

JULY

LAKESIDE FESTIVAL, July 2-5, Lakeside Legacy Arts Park, Crystal Lake. “The Granddaddy of All Festivals” features live music, food, Taste by the Lake, beer/wine/tropical drink gardens, carnival, parade, fireworks and tours of the Dole Mansion. Scheduled bands include Pirates Over 40, Vertical Horizon, DNK, Suburban Cowboys, Hi Infidelity, Dangerous Joes, Ty Bates, What About This, Modern Day Romeos, Tropixplosion, U2 Zoo and 7th Heaven. Information: www.lakesidelegacy.org or 815-455-8000.

CARY PARK DISTRICT'S SUMMER CELEBRATION, July 3, Lions Park, 1200 Silver Lake Road, Cary. Celebrate summer with music, food and fireworks. Performance by Rockin' Fenderskirts at 7:30 p.m. Fireworks to follow. Food and drink sold onsite. Parking costs $10 on pavement, $5 on grass. Rain date for fireworks is July 9. Information: www.carypark.com.

WONDER LAKE'S 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION, July 3-4. Includes MPOA 50th anniversary Street Dance & Venetian Night July 3 on Hancock Drive. July 4 events include a flag ceremony, Kids Zone at the Wonder Lake Chamber of Commerce, parade, fire department open house, Wonder Lake Water Ski Show at Center Beach, car show and fireworks. Information: www.wonderlake.org.

SPRING GROVE'S 4TH OF JULY CELEBRATION, July 4, Horse Fair Park, 8105 Blivin St., Spring Grove. A downtown parade followed by family activities and fireworks at the park. Performers include Mitch Stephens and Mr. Meyers Band. Information: www.sg4thofjuly.com.

4TH OF JULY ANNUAL PARADE & FAMILY PICNIC, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 4, parade route runs from Burnett Road to Veterans Park, 432 W. State Road, Island Lake. Free hot dogs, chips, drinks, kids' games, DJ and pony rides at Veteran's Park after the parade. Information: 847-650-8410 or www.villageofislandlake.com.

ROCKIN’ ROTARY RIBFEST, July 9-12, Sunset Park, 5200 Miller Road, Lake in the Hills. Barbecue and family entertainment. Acts include Eliminator: America's #1 ZZ Top Band, Kashmir: The Led Zeppelin Concert, The Fortunate Sons: The Midwest's Premier CCR Show, Little Texas, The Gingers: Redheads That Rock, The Personnel, Hoobastank, Jamie Campbell & The Redneck Romeos, Howard and The White Boys and Wedding Banned. Information: lithribfest.com.

FIESTA DAYS, July 10-19, (Music Fest, July 10-12, Family Fun Day July 12, McHenry River Run July 11, Big Wheels Race July 13, Open Track Meet July 15, Concert in the Park July 16, Children’s Ice Cream Social July 17, 31st annual Arts & Crafts in the Park and Shakespeare Festival July 18, parade July 19), Petersen and Veterans Memorial parks, McHenry. Among the bands playing are Makena Hartlin, Bella Cain, Stephen Pearcy of Ratt, Ace Frehley (formerly of KISS) and Sam Llanas (formerly of the BoDeans. Information: www.mchenryfiestadays.com or 815-385-4300.

RUNDEZVOUS RACE, July 11, Lippold Park, Crystal Lake. Outdoor survival skill 4-mile race with 14 events/challenges along the trails at Lippold Park. Some of the events include a hatchet throw, archery, water carry, log splitting, trapping and fire starting. Cost: $55. Information: www.rundezvousrace.com.

FOX RIVER GROVE FIREWORKS CELEBRATION, July 11, Picnic Grove Park, Birch Lane, Fox River Grove. Food, drink and music beginning at 6 p.m. Information: www.foxrivergrove-il.org.

HERITAGE FAIR, July 12, McHenry County Historical Museum, Union. Featuring antique car show, quilt bed turning demonstration, pie-baking contests, cake walks, sales, antique auction, magic show, music and hula hoop and Frisbee contests. Information: www.mchsonline.org or 815-923-2267.

SUMMER IN THE PARK, July 15-19, Woodstock. Community festival with details on events yet to come. Information: 815-338-4300 or www.woodstockil.gov.

WOODSTOCK FOLK FESTIVAL, July 19, Woodstock Square. In its 30th year, featuring the finest in folk entertainment and great family fun. Among the performers are Kim and Reggie Harris, Ellen Bukstel, Peter Mulvey, Mustard's Retreat, Danny Santos, Sons of the Never Wrong, Spuyten Duyvil and Matt Watroba. Cost: $15 a person, $25 a family and $10 for seniors and students. Information: www.woodstockfolkfestival.org.

GAVERS COMMUNITY BARNDANCE, July 18, Emricson Park, Woodstock. A fundraiser for the Gavers Community Cancer Foundation with a barbecue dinner, live auction and music. Information: www.gavers.org.

ALGONQUIN FOUNDERS’ DAYS, July 23-26, Algonquin Lakes Park, 700 Lake Plumleigh Way, Algonquin. Features carnival, Cardboard Boat Regatta, Taste of Founders’, Social Garden, music, Illinois Battle of the Bands, a petting zoo, walks and runs and fireworks. Bands include Kashmir: The Led Zeppelin Show, Too White Crew, 7th Heaven, Lava Rock, Jack Russell's Great White and Arra Classic Rock. Information: www.algonquinfoundersdays.com or 847-658-5340.

ISLAND LAKEFEST & CARNIVAL, July 24-26, Water Tower Park, off Route 176, Island Lake. Carnival, games, live music, beer tent, hotrod car show, craft fair and fireworks. Information: 847-650-8410 or www.villageofislandlake.com.

GALLERY IN THE GARDEN, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 25-26, The Gardens at 600 Lawndale, 600 Lawndale Ave., Woodstock. The 10th annual event is a charitable art event presented in a private garden as a unique opportunity to experience local artists and musicians in a natural setting. This event will benefit CASA of McHenry County. Free admission. Information: 815-337-0697 or www.galleryinthegarden.org.

WOODSTOCK MOZART FESTIVAL, July 25-26, Aug. 1-2 and Aug. 8-9, Woodstock Opera House and the Place de Musique in Barrington Hills. In its 29th season and under the banner “Mozart ... and More!,” guest conductor format enabling patrons to enjoy music of Mozart in different performance styles on three consecutive weekends. Features orchestra and world-class artists. Information: www.mozartfest.org.

ANNUAL CHARITY AUTO SHOW, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 26, Scot Forge, 7777 Winn Road, Spring Grove. All proceeds from this event will be donated to a member, nonprofit community organization and the Richmond-Spring Grove Chamber of Commerce scholarship fund. Information: 815-678-7742 or www.rsgchamber.com.

McHENRY ROTARY BLUES, BREWS & BBQ, July 31-Aug. 2, Petersen Park, McHenry. Outdoor blues and BBQ festival with 5K run, BBQ Cook-Off, home brew competition, volleyball and more. Among the bands are John Todd, Howard and the White Boys, Joe Moss Band, Rollover with Louie Zagoras, Kevin Purcell and the Nightburners, Mississippi Stranglers, Melvin Taylor and Jimmy Nick. Information: www.mchenryrotarybluesbrewsandbbqs.com.

AUGUST

McHENRY COUNTY FAIR, Aug. 5-9, Route 47 and Country Club Road, Woodstock. Information: www.mchenrycountyfair.com or 815-338-5315.

BLACK DIAMOND BLAST ON THE BEACH, Aug. 8, Main Beach, 300 Lakeshore Drive, Crystal Lake. Free admission for a fun fair, craft fair, BMO Harris Bank Treasure Hunt, food, beer, wine and live music with Modern Day Romeos. Information: www.crystallakeparks.org.

DAY OUT WITH THOMAS, Aug. 15-16 & Aug. 22-23, Illinois Railway Museum, Union. Take a train ride with Thomas the Tank Engine and meet Sir Topham Hatt. Includes clowns, puppet shows, magic shows, music, storytelling and Thomas & Friends Playtable, balloon animals and more. Information: www.irm.org.

MARENGO MUSIC FEST, Aug. 15, Franks Road near Marengo High School, Marengo. A day of music, car show, food, bing and kid's activities. Information: 815-568-6680 or www.marengo-union.com.

WOODSTOCK JAZZ FESTIVAL, Aug. 21-22, Stage Left Cafe, 125 W. Van Buren, and on the Woodstock Square. Promotion of jazz music in all its diverse forms and colorful history. Information: www.jazzonthesquare.com.

SEPTEMBER

LAKE IN THE HILLS SUMMER SUNSET FESTIVAL, Sept. 4-6, Sunset Park, Lake in the Hills. Features parade, carnival rides, craft show, Battle of the Bands, Classic & Custom Car Show, horseshoe and bags tournaments, Sunset 5K, arts, Got Talent competition, wine tasting and fireworks. Among the bands on the Main Stage are Ac-Rock, 1976, Hi Infidelity, Pirates Over 40, Modern Day Romeos, The Kool and The Funky Ones, Hillbilly Rockstarz and 28 Days. Information: www.summersunsetfest.com.

CARY MAIN STREET FESTIVAL, Sept. 19-20, downtown Cary. Information: www.carygrovechamber.com.

A certain survival instinct kicks in when festivals run as long as some of those in McHenry County.

"We've weathered recession. We've weathered mistakes. We've weathered weather," said Kay Bates, president of the Chamber of Commerce in McHenry, which has hosted one of the largest festivals in the state – Fiesta Days – since 1948.

"We've definitely done well," she said.

The festival – known for drawing national music acts – is one of numerous festivals and events anticipated throughout McHenry County this summer.

From the 74th annual Milk Days opening June 5 in Harvard, one of the longest-running festivals in Illinois, and Fox River Grove's new Rock the Routes festival June 6 stretching all the way to the Summer Sunset Festival (Sept. 4-6) in Lake in the Hills and Cary's Main Street Festival (Sept. 19-20), the area offers both the unique and expected.

And it's all served up with "the quaint charm of the country out here," said Jaki Berggren, executive director of Visit McHenry County (www.visitmchenrycounty.com).

"It's Americana at its best, and it's not very far from Chicago," she said.

They're community celebrations with roots.

In Harvard, for instance, organizers will white-wash the streets in honor of Milk Days. It's all about the cow as the town celebrates its status as once producing more milk than anywhere in the country.

And it's always the place to be.

"This was something we would just automatically do," said Beverly Burkart, who grew up in Harvard and has helped organize the festival for about four years. "A lot of my classmates were [Milk Days] queens. I just always went and helped with whatever I could."

Food. Music. Art. Athletics. Cardboard cup regattas. Historic celebrations. Parades. Carnivals. It's all in McHenry County this summer, along with a few hidden gems, such as the Woodstock Mozart Festival, which runs over three weekends in July and August at the Woodstock Opera House and the Place De Musique in Barrington Hills.

"It's really a secret almost," Berggren said. "A lot of people don't even realize what it is. It's not your traditional outdoor festival. They bring in Grammy award-winning musicians from all over the world to play in the Woodstock Opera House. It's a small quaint area, just like Mozart would have played during his day."

From Mozart to country, rising star Ty Bates will perform at the ever-popular Lakeside Festival July 2-5 in Crystal Lake, and '90s hit-makers Little Texas will be at Lake in the Hills' Rockin' Rotary Ribfest, running from July 9-12.

The variety continues from country to folk and jazz festivals in Woodstock and the McHenry Rotary Blues, Brews & BBQ. And, of course, there will be rock – even hard rock. Along with Jack Russell's Great White at Algonquin Founders' Days (July 23-26), Stephen Pearcy of Ratt and Ace Frehley of KISS will take the stage at Fiesta Days, which runs from July 10-19 in McHenry. Boasting three national acts this year – up from two last year and one in previous years – the festival also will feature Sam Llanas of the BoDeans.

Frehley might not wear the makeup of KISS' heyday anymore, but that doesn't mean McHenry can't celebrate it, Bates said.

"We'll have face-painting there because we just know people are going to want to come in costume and have fun with that," she said.

The goal always is to keep the ticket prices as low as possible and, of course, to have a good time, said Bates, who's already monitoring weather predictions.

"I love the hoopla," she said.

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