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Party time in St. Charles for RiverFest

Zack Crane, 6, of St. Charles enjoys his jumbo size cotton candy Thursday during the first day of the Pride of the Fox RiverFest carnival area.
Zack Crane, 6, of St. Charles enjoys his jumbo size cotton candy Thursday during the first day of the Pride of the Fox RiverFest carnival area.

ST. CHARLES – With dozens of activities – including live music, a petting zoo, SWAT team demonstrations, cook-offs, bingo, carnival rides and dragon boat races – planned at nine downtown St. Charles locations this weekend, organizers of the 30th annual RiverFest encourage attendees to not wait until Sunday to partake in the festivities.

“You are going to need two days to really experience and explore every single area and activity,” said Julie Farris, executive director of Pride of the Fox.

This is the third year Pride of the Fox is producing the event, which began in 1982 with one venue and six vendors. It now boasts more than 200 vendors and nine venues, including Lincoln Park, North Third Street, Pottawatomie Park, the river walk, the municipal center and First Street.

“I’m proud to say this is the biggest event RiverFest has had in its history,” Farris said.

She’s expecting record attendance. Good weather usually brings crowds of 40,000 to RiverFest, she said, but this year might bring 60,000.

She said she has gotten calls from people around the country coming for the barbecue cook-off – a sanctioned event with the Kansas City Barbeque Society.

To celebrate 30 years, Pride of the Fox is raffling off a commemorative, custom-made electric guitar that, thanks to sponsors, will come with an amplifier and guitar strap, Farris said. Only 2,000 tickets will be sold and may be bought for $10 at the ticket booth near the main stage. Proceeds will benefit RiverFest so Pride of the Fox can continue to bring entertainment and activities to St. Charles.

Most of that entertainment is free to the public, Farris said. She noted that carnival rides and refreshments will cost attendees.

Farris recommends attendees download the festival program at and plan their visit before arriving to make the most of their time.

Even she mapped out a schedule for her family. Here are her recommendations in addition to checking out the live music each day:

• The Kane County SWAT Team demonstration at the plaza green and First Street at 5 p.m. today.

• The screening of “How to Train Your Dragon” at Lincoln Park. It begins at dusk today.

• The DockDogs competitions, which are scheduled throughout the weekend.

• The Firin’ Up the Fox barbecue cook-off. Farris recommends attending the people’s choice pulled pork tastings that begin at 11:30 a.m. Saturday.

• The Wonder Lake Water Ski Team shows scheduled for 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Afterward, Farris suggests catching a couple of dragon boat races.

“You just need to tell everyone to come down all three days,” Farris said. “How do you pick one thing over another?”

Dragon boats ready to go

Pottawatomie Park will be host to dragon boat races Saturday and Sunday during RiverFest in downtown St. Charles.

Teams of 20 – 18 paddlers, one drummer and one flag catcher – will race along about 300 meters of the Fox River.

Each race should take about two minutes and pits two boats against each other. It ends when the catcher captures the flag.

An opening ceremony is set for 8 a.m. Saturday. Races are scheduled from 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Times may vary depending on race results, weather and other factors.

Schedule of events

Venue: Lincoln Park gazebo stage

• 11 a.m. Friday, Saturday, Sunday – Activities begin, such as an ice cream eating contest, bingo, trivia, dancing performances and martial arts demonstrations.
• 5 p.m. – Live music begins.

Venue: Third Street

• 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday – Car show

Venue: Parking lot north of Main Street next to Route 31

• 11 a.m to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday – RiverView carnival
• 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday – RiverView carnival

Venue: Pottawatomie Park

• 8 a.m. Saturday – Awakening the Dragon ceremony
• 8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday – Dragon boat racing
• 1 p.m. Saturday and Sunday – Wonder Lake Water Ski Show Team

Venue: St. Charles municipal center and river walk

• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Play in giant sandbox, eat, relax, and watch a 40-ton fantasy sand sculpture being created.
• 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Craft show

Venue: Harris Bank main stage

• 6 p.m. Friday – Live music begins
• Noon Saturday and Sunday – Live music begins

Venue: First Street and plaza green

• 10 a.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday – Practice begins for Dock Dogs competitions, which begin at 11 a.m.
• 5 p.m. Friday – Kane County Swat Team demonstration
• 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday – Barbecue cook-off, ends with awards ceremony
• 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday – Barbecue cook-off, ends with awards ceremony


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