contentsVillage of Itasca ILads

Let Us Entertain You!

Oktoberfest

Itasca’s leaders have come together to create some exciting festivals, and with time, they may well garner attention and visitors from afar.

Oktoberfest marked one recent initiative to create activities for people from Itasca and beyond to relish. Its inaugural celebration took place in 2008 to much success. The events began with a night featuring local businesses leading up to a weekend of activities for the entire family. “On Thursday night, it was a business appreciation night for businesses in town,” explains Mayor Pruyn, “and Friday and Saturday it was open to the public.”

Festivities included live music from Chicagoland bands performing genuine German music, German food and certainly authentic German beer. Of course, to cater to those not of age, Itasca’s Oktoberfest included an area designated for children’s activities, as well.

Occurring near the Metra train depot, Itasca’s Oktoberfest also brought in a variety of patrons. “They’re estimating that around 7,000 people came, so for our sized community, it was a great event,” says Mayor Pruyn. “We’ve had nothing but positive responses.”

festival

Furthermore, the planning for the event took place all within the community, another example of the Village’s character and ability to plan a worthwhile event like Oktoberfest.

In the hopes of building upon the success of Oktoberfest, Itasca held a new Arts & Wine Festival from September 25-27. The genesis of the festival actually came from a trip to another community undertaken by Village Trustee Ellen Leahy. “I went to an arts festival in Scottsdale, Arizona, that I thought it was really great, and that’s where I got the idea,” says Leahy. “I wanted to bring something like that to Itasca; I thought we had a really great location for it.”

By bringing people into town for the festival, Itasca shows off its physical resources downtown, but also its even more valuable resources of its residents and entrepreneurs for the world to see.

A main feature of the Arts Festival, coined Benches on Parade, was in fact a set of 25 wrought-iron benches that the Village no longer used. “We offered those to artists interested in painting them, and we had those on display throughout the Arts Festival,” explains Leahy. “Then we auctioned those off on the first night of the event,” half of the proceeds going toward the artists to help them develop their craft.

Artists

Artists also had the opportunity to display their own works separate from the benches, from glass work to watercolors to acrylics and whatever else they brought to the festival. Traipsing through Usher Park and enjoying wine as well as art, Itasca residents and the visitors who came in during September 25-27 certainly had much to appreciate.

Another annual avenue for entertainment, the Itasca Fest succeeds in appealing to people of all ages thanks to the careful planning of the Itasca Lions Club. Coming up on its 20th anniversary, Itasca Fest began in celebration of the Itasca centennial in 1990 as a one-time event, but due to its overwhelming success, it’s become a yearly one. Each year, the Lions Club hires anywhere from seven to nine bands, both local and national; puts up a complete carnival; sets up a three-on-three basketball tournament; and presents a large kids’ festival on the Saturdays and Sundays of the festival. Admission and parking to the Washington Park festivities have always been free, leaving people more time and money to enjoy the scores of varied food booths, the flea markets, the car shows and all the other activities the Lions Club presents each July.

In a community the size of Itasca, most might not expect a celebration that could draw in nearly as many people as the entire Village’s population, but Oktoberfest, in its first year, has already done that. With all the work gone toward planning its next installment, as well as Benches on Parade, one can hardly imagine what new and intriguing festivals the community will think up next.

previous topic
next topic
Town Square Publications