ELBURN – Tom Reynolds recalls the days when the Elburn Lion’s Club’s signature festival – Elburn Days – didn’t have one of its most popular features. Reynolds, who has been with the club for more than 40 years, said he was among those fighting against adding a beer garden in the 1970s.
Years later, Reynolds said he is glad he didn’t win that battle. He notes the beer garden has been a success, and it provides a section of the festival where the drinking can be contained.
And with the festival’s main stage nearby, he said it has turned out to be a major draw.
“We really didn’t want a beer garden for a long time,” he said. “And those of us who were against it for so long were wrong. … It turned out to be a huge money-maker for us. And they put the entertainment right there.”
The 85th annual Elburn Days festival begins Friday. The parade starts at 6 p.m. on Route 47 in downtown Elburn.
Associated events start earlier Friday – a rummage sale and bake sale at St. Gall Church at 8 a.m., a book sale at the Town and Country Public Library at 9 a.m. and rummage sales at Community Congregational Church at 9 a.m.
After the parade Friday, the festival begins, with carnival rides, food stands, bingo, entertainment and the beer garden.
Among the highlights Saturday will be a 5K run starting at 8 a.m., truck and tractor pull events at 10 a.m., carnival rides at noon and the beer garden and live music at 1 p.m.
Also, the community stage features contests and performances throughout the day, highlighted by the Elburn Idol competition at 2:30 p.m.
On Sunday, there will be a pie-baking contest, mud volleyball competition, rides, bingo and the beer garden with live entertainment. Most events will be at Lions Park, 500 S. Filmore St., Elburn.
Reynolds, 73, called it “a neat little festival” and noted that it has become hugely important for the Elburn Lions Club as a fundraiser.
Dave Broz, 39, the outgoing club president and the chairman of this year’s festival, said the festival and the park help make the Elburn Lions Club visible in the community.
He said the 85th anniversary celebration is an opportunity “to look back at our past and also recognize all of the good things we are doing today.”
He pointed out the club’s literacy campaign, the safety camp for kids and donations to food pantries, as well as the club following through on its mission to provide help to those who are visually or hearing impaired.
The 2014 festival theme is “anything is possible when you follow your dream.”
“We wouldn’t be where we are today without 85 years of Lions laying the foundation for us,” Broz said.
Maranda Schenk, 33, is the club’s second vice president. She first joined as a Leo Club member at age 15. Schenk works on sponsorship with the festival. She noted that the event requires “a year-round planning process.”
She noted she has watched the festival grow since she first joined the club, noting the addition of the community stage, mud volleyball and RC car races.
“I think that it’s a great family event,” she said. “There’s a variety of activities for people of all ages to come to, and it’s great to see what hundreds of volunteers can put together and make such a successful event.”
If you go
The Elburn Days festival runs from Friday through Sunday, with most events at the Elburn Lions Club, 500 S. Filmore St., Elburn. For details and schedules, visit www.elburnlions.com.