The Fourth of July is coming up, and nobody does it better than Lake Forest and Lake Bluff. Each town hosts one of the biggest events of their year on the same day. In the morning, the Lake Bluff Fourth of July Parade brings the crowd into town; in the evening, Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks closes out the holiday right, with outstanding food, music, spectacle, and community.
This is the sixth year that the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation has hosted Festival & Fireworks, and the community is getting pretty familiar with everything that the event promises. Deerpath Community Park will open at 5 p.m. ’80s cover band Sixteen Candles returns to the stage once again to get people dancing at 6 p.m., followed by Kenny Loggins’ new band, Blue Sky Riders. At 7:30 p.m., the annual pie-eating contest will have everyone mesmerized. Then, at 8 p.m., Kenny Loggins heads back to the stage to play his catalogue of showstoppers, which he wrote during his solo years—hits like “Footloose,” “Danger Zone” from Top Gun, “I’m Alright” from Caddyshack, and “Return to Pooh Corner.” At 9:35 p.m., the fireworks are scheduled to begin, expertly timed to music for maximum awe-inspiring effect.
The impeccable Lovell’s of Lake Forest will be presenting the food, with classic à la carte options like hot dogs, hamburgers, BBQ and chicken sandwiches, corn on the cob, and watermelon slices. However, VIP ticket holders get to experience the full scope of Chef Jay Lovell’s expertise with three delicious salad options, entrees like hand-rubbed Memphis style pork shoulder with apple cider BBQ sauce or smoked chicken breast with espresso bean BBQ sauce in addition to hot dogs or hamburgers, and extended sides and dessert menus to go along with their priority seating.
Children will be happy to see the return of the festival’s face painting, games, and inflatable bounce houses and slides, while adults enjoy the beer tent, which serves both cold beer and a selection of Terlato wines.
The winner of this year’s Festival & Fireworks logo artwork contest is Kelsey Marx, a fourth grade student at Cherokee Elementary School. Her winning design emphasized the fireworks and fun of the evening with a smiling little girl with a flag in one hand and a snow cone in the other. “I’ve entered [the art contest] for five years now, and I am really happy to have finally won,” says Kelsey of her victory. When asked what she likes best about Festival & Fireworks, she immediately smiles. “I like seeing all of my friends there, and my counselors from camp, just everybody who lives in Lake Forest comes there. It’s awesome.”
The presenting sponsor of Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks is Lake Forest Bank & Trust Company, and Forest & Bluff is proud to serve as the media sponsor. Tickets are $10 for residents of Lake Forest and Lake Bluff, $15 for non-residents, and free for children under 5. The VIP tickets, which include admission, priority seating, Lovell’s delectable extended menu of food, and beverages, are $75. A child VIP ticket is $25. Also available are VIP family packs for $200 and a very limited number of Kenny Loggins meet and greet passes for $350. Priority parking is available for $50, and lawn parking is available for $20.
Proceeds from the event are used to support the upkeep and growth of Lake Forest’s numerous parks and recreational programs. “I grew up in Lake Forest and certainly utilized the recreation facilities and all the camps and sporting events that they offer,” says Mark Milliman, President of the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation. “We’ve got approximately 30 members, all of whom are Lake Forest residents dedicated to improving the facilities, the parks, the beach, the forestry, everything that comes with the Parks and Recreation Department in Lake Forest. I’ve got five kids of my own and we’re out doing something [supported by the department] any given Saturday or Sunday.”
To buy tickets or for more information, visit friendslfpr.org, or call 847-810-3942.
— Jake Jarvi