Four communities join forces for sizzling Fourth of July festival
By Janelle Walker For The Courier-News July 4, 2012 8:16PM
The city of Elgin, village of Hanover Park, Hanover Township, and village of Hoffman Estates partnered to sponsor the Northwest Fourth Fest on the grounds of the Sears Centre Arena in Hoffman Estates in 2012. | File~Sun-Times media
Updated: August 6, 2012 11:59AM
Brett Stocker, his wife, Korin, and their 5-month-old baby were enjoying the food and music under a tent Wednesday at the first-ever Northwest Fourth-Fest.
Even though it was a very hot day — with temperature readings of 102 degrees reported at O’Hare — they were enjoying the Fourth of July festival, said the Elgin couple.
Although it was hot, Korin Stocker said, they came prepared with the proper clothing and water.
“We go to festivals,” in the summer, she said, because it is what makes the season special. “I don’t think this is too bad.”
Making sure residents have something for families to do on the Fourth was part of the reason that for the first time four area communities — Elgin, Hanover Park, Hanover Township and Hoffman Estates — joined forces to not only provide residents with a festival for the holiday, but a venue for a fireworks show.
Held at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, at Interstate 90 and Beverly Road, the five-day festival includes carnival rides, food by local restaurants and vendors, two beer gardens and live music on several nights. Survivor will headline Saturday evening’s music show.
The fireworks on Wednesday were also expected to be a big draw if the weather held out.
Hoffman Estates Mayor Bill McLeod credits his wife with the idea of reaching out to other communities to expand the festival. She suggested calling Hanover Park and Elgin to invite their residents to the new festival location, too, he said.
The Hoffman Estates Fourth of July festival had, for years, been hosted at the village hall, McLeod said. But the space was small and parking was always difficult.
“The crowds had gotten too big, and it was too small of a space,” McLeod said.
By inviting the other communities to get involved “it is a great opportunity in hard economic times,” said Rick Roberts, deputy mayor of Hanover Park.
For his village, the event was a “litmus test” to see if there was community interest in having a Fourth festival.
Not everyone was thrilled about the move to the Sears Centre, which the village now operates. But it does have the space and amenities, including potential parking for 30,000 people, McLeod said.
Early estimates of exactly how many people took in the festival on Wednesday were unavailable. Crowds were thin at first, and the heat may have been keeping some people away as they waited for temperatures to cool into the evening.
It had been a hard day of sales for Susan Rado, who was selling mini-donuts by the dozen in her food booth.
“We have sold more drinks than donuts,” said Rado. “It is so hot, and we are ‘hot and fresh’ mini donuts.”
They also hoped to see more people, but agreed that if the heat could break, more people would probably show up.
Still, McLeod and some of the other village leaders said, it was too early to judge how successful the weekend-long festival would be.
“I think we will have crowds tonight,” for the fireworks, McLeod said. Those were set to be launched right above the Sears Centre, and were expected to give a good show for people sitting in one of the several parking lots adjacent to or around the venue.
Although it was hot during the day, there are tents, fans, misters, and best of all, the Sears Centre, to get out of the sun and heat.
“It is a cooker, but there is a nice breeze under the tents,” McLeod said.