It’s one of the most anticipated weeks of the year in Berwyn and Cicero. The International Houby Fest, which celebrates the cultural richness and variety of the two communities, is celebrating its 50th anniversary this October.
The festival kicks off Oct. 4, and the iconic parade wraps up the week Oct. 7. This year’s theme is “Honoring Our Military: Duty, Honor, Country.”
The grand marshal is Cicero police officer Luis Duarte, who recently was injured in the line of duty, while other festival highlights include Berwyn’s “Svengoolie” and the Navy Marching Band.
The Houby Day pageant will be Oct. 2, but the family fun begins Oct. 4 with the carnival in the lot north of Cermak Road, beginning at Lombard Avenue.
The live entertainment gets going at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 5 with One of the Boyzz, followed by 16 Candles at 8:30 p.m. The Oct. 6 entertainment begins at 2 p.m., and it will feature Rick Lindy & the Wild Ones and Petty Kings before the night concludes with The Boy Band Night and The Ron Burgundy’s.
The festival culminates Oct. 7 with its famous Houby Day Parade, which includes more than 100 businesses, nonprofit organizations, bands and school groups. It steps off at noon and travels along Cermak Road beginning at Central Avenue in Cicero and ending at Riverside Drive in Berwyn.
Other entertainment that afternoon includes Caliente, Hillbilly Rockstarz, R Gang and 7th Heaven.
A variety of food from Berwyn and Cicero vendors will be available all weekend.
Cynthia Salvino, special events coordinator for the town of Cicero, said Houby Fest is a celebration of the diverse cultures that make up the area, as well as a good opportunity to highlight local businesses.
“[Houby Fest] was a way to bring more business to Cermak Road, and it just grew from there to include everyone," she said. "It shows unity between Cicero and Berwyn."
Houby Fest began in 1968 as a celebration of the area’s Czech and Slovak heritage, and it has grown into a cultural celebration that brings thousands of people to the community. The parade has brought actor Martin Sheen, former President George H. W. Bush and other dignitaries to serve as parade grand marshals.
“Houby Fest is a way to join our neighbors in the Town of Cicero in celebrating what originated as a Czech mushroom festival fifty years ago to what has become a wonderful display of cultural unity,” Berwyn Mayor Robert Lovero said in a statement.
Cicero Town President Larry Dominick said the 50th anniversary demonstrates the continued growth of both Cicero and Berwyn.
“The Houby Festival and Parade are important symbols of the hardworking pride of the people of the Town of Cicero and the region," Dominick said in an email. "Originally representative of the Czech and Slovak cultures, today the Houby Festival and Parade symbolize the coming together of all our people regardless of race, ethnicity or religion."
If you go
WHAT: 50th annual International Houby Fest
WHEN: Oct. 4 through 7
WHERE: Cermak Road in Berwyn and Cicero