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South Elgin packs fun  in for RiverFest party

Riders take spYo Yo Riverfest Express South Elgin.  |  Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

Riders take a spin on the Yo Yo at Riverfest Express in South Elgin. | Mary Beth Nolan~For Sun-Times Media

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South Elgin RiverFest Express

♦ Aug. 16-19

♦ Panton Mill Park, 10 N. Water St., South Elgin

♦ Free

♦ (847) 774-1151

The 16th annual South Elgin RiverFest Express returns with live music from a popular 1970s rock band.

Chicago’s Ides of March, known for its biggest hit, “Vehicle,” will perform at the free fest on Aug. 18.

“This is the first time we’ve had them, so we’re hoping they bring in a crowd,” said fest co-chairwoman Joyce Ware.

The RiverFest Express runs Aug. 16 to 19, with most of the action taking place at Panton Mill Park, across from the Village Hall. Hours are 5 to 10 p.m. Aug. 17, 5 p.m. to midnight Aug. 17, 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Aug. 18 and noon to 10 p.m. Aug. 19

The band Hillbilly RockStarz performs at 7 p.m. Aug. 16.

“They’re a popular band,” she said.

Other bands include 7th Heaven at 9:30 p.m. Aug. 17 with Talkin’ Trash opening at 6:30 p.m. Keep Seven performs at noon Aug. 18; followed by country act Bob and Terry at 2 p.m., StormCrow at 5 p.m., and the Ides of March at 9 p.m.

On Aug. 19, Liberty’s Teeth open the main stage at 2:30 p.m., followed by The Fairlanes at 5 p.m. and headlining act Smokin’Gunz at 7:30 p.m.

“The Fairlanes — they play ’50s, ’60s, ’70s. The oldies,” she said. “We’re hoping that will go over. We haven’t had an oldies band here in a long time.”

Fireworks end the fest at 9:30 p.m.

“They’re shot from a barge on the river above the dam,” she said. “This guy is really good. He does one display that’s under the water. It’s great.”

Ware said that there will once again be a craft fair and small business expo, with around 30 booths.

“There’s everything from chiropractors to Avon to handmade jewelry and quilts,” she said. “There’s a little bit of everything.”

Windy City carnival is back with a $60 mega wristband available in advance from 9 a.m. to noon Aug. 11 at the Village Hall or at the festival Aug. 16 for $75. These wristbands allow for unlimited rides at any time during the carnival.

There are 14 food vendors this year, including the Lions Club doing corned dogs and Italian sausage. Fest-goers looking for a quick nosh will find Mexican fare, pizza, frozen custard and other ice cream treats, sweet corn from the VFW, gyros and kabobs, chicken on a stick, eggrolls, hamburgers, deep-fried Oreos, funnel cakes, hot dogs and chili, chicken wings, soft pretzels, coconut shrimp, roasted chicken legs and pulled pork.

“We’ve got lots of food — a nice variety,” she said.

The Freedom Express Museum will be at the Municipal Annex parking lot from noon until 4 p.m. Aug. 18. The Freedom Express is a 45-foot mobile museum that tells the story of our First Amendment freedoms of speech, religion, petition, press and assembly through artifacts and computer-based interactive displays.

Before RiverFest Express opens to the public, it kicks off Aug. 15 with A Special Night for Special Kids.

“That’s my favorite,” Ware said. “That is a free night families with special needs children. All the food and drinks are donated by local businesses, the carnival opens up for three hours for free rides and there is some free entertainment. It’s just a fun night. It gives me goose bumps when I think about it. It’s a special night for all of us.”

Pre-registration for the event is required. Your child doesn’t have to live in South Elgin to attend.

“The first year, we had about 30 kids. Last year, we had close to 1,000,” she said.

RiverFest Express started as a Centennial celebration for the village of South Elgin. The city sponsored it the first year; a volunteer committee has run it since then.

She said people can expect to have a good time at RiverFest.

“We know money’s tight and a lot of people have to stay home and not take vacations,” she said. “We are hoping they come to RiverFest. We always have good music and good food. It’s just a good time.”

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