ELMHURST – Merriment will again intertwine with philanthropy at the 29th annual Jaycees Charity Carnival, which will take place Aug. 9 through 12 in downtown Elmhurst.
Bill Fergus, president of the Elmhurst Jaycees, said the carnival is the largest event his chapter holds during the year, as it requires a large team to coordinate with the city, handle marketing and sponsorships, get contracts and documentation in place, and promote the event among local officials and business owners.
"It allows us to really immerse ourselves into the community in a way that no other event probably could. ... Every year there are a couple curveballs, but it's great to kind of work through those and persevere and see the event kick off and be successful," Fergus said.
Proceeds from the carnival, which drew thousands of people in 2017, contribute to the Elmhurst Jaycees' support of the Elmhurst Children's Assistance Foundation, United Community Concerns Association, Salvation Army and other organizations. Depending on the event's success, the Elmhurst Jaycees plan to provide an Elmhurst College scholarship and contribute to funding for the Elmhurst Police Explorers to help them do their trips and initatives as well, Fergus said.
Another organization that benefits from the carnival is Special Kids Day, a nonprofit that provides free celebratory events for children and adults with disabilities and their families. People with disabilities and their families will have the carnival to themselves, for free, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Aug. 11.
For that time, rides might be shorter and give families more time to get on the rides and provide a more comfortable environment with shorter lines and softer music, volunteer board member Heather Stalker said. The event also will include karaoke, facepainting, live music and carnival games in which it is easier for the players to win prizes, she said.
"We certainly try to accommodate all different aspects that these families are challenged with," Stalker said.
About 1,200 people with special needs attended the event last year, she said.
Elmhurst Dentistry for Kids is a sponsor of the carnival, and staff plan to have a Plinko game with prizes at their booth each day of the event.
Sara Davis, practice relations coordinator at Elmhurst Dentistry for Kids, said the practice is trying to get involved as much as possible in the Elmhurst community since they want children to be active and have fun in the community.
Davis said staff plan to come to the carnival with their children and talk with passersby and patients.
"I'm really excited to be able to see our patients outside of the office," she said.
In addition to the sponsors' booths, carnival attendees will see rides and have food, Fergus said.
"But I think what you'll also see is a community out and about really enjoying being in Elmhurst. ... Downtown Elmhurst is certainly changing with all these buildings and shops, so I think it's kind of cool to have this annual event," Fergus said.
He added that without the carnival, he believes a lot of "really important and special" community groups would suffer directly and indirectly, and that motivates the Elmhurst Jaycees to keep the event going.
One of the top groups that would suffer directly is Special Kids Day, he said.
"Even if we make no money, at the end of the day, all the work to go and have those kids come out and enjoy the day makes it worth it," Fergus said.
He added being able to do the sponsorships and charitable contributions, have the Elmhurst Jaycees be active in the community and enable members to have leadership opportunities also are benefits. As for indirect benefits, Fergus said it draws people to support downtown Elmhurst restaurants and bars, and as a longstanding annual event, it contributes to Elmhurst history.
"In this world today, there's something comforting about consistency and just regularity that they [event participants] know what to expect and be able to come out and enjoy a fun night with friends and family," Fergus said.
If you go
WHAT: 29th annual Jaycees Charity Carnival
WHEN: 6 to 10 p.m. Aug. 9, 6 to 11 p.m. Aug. 10, 1 to 11 p.m. Aug. 11 and noon to 5 p.m. Aug. 12
WHERE: Prospect and Park avenues, Elmhurst
COST: Various types of tickets, including all-day passes and individual ride tickets, will be sold on site