BATAVIA – Windmill City Festival organizers are hoping for big crowds at this weekend’s festival after last summer’s sweltering weather took a toll on attendance.
“This year, the weather looks pitch perfect with temperatures in the 80s,” said Kari Miller, the Batavia Park District’s marketing and public relations director.
The festival kicks off today and runs through Sunday. Activities are centered on the Batavia Riverwalk at Houston Street and Island Avenue in downtown Batavia. The Windmill City Festival is organized by the Batavia Park District, Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the city of Batavia.
The festival normally attracts between 9,000 and 10,000 people. Last summer’s less-than-ideal conditions shrunk attendance to an estimated 7,500 to 8,000 people.
“Hopefully we will get pretty high attendance this year,” Miller said.
Once again, those who come out to the festival can put their golfing skills to the test in the Tour Edge Golf Challenge. The activity returned to the festival last year after being on hiatus for about five years, Miller said.
Participants take their shot at chipping a hole-in-one on a floating green in the Depot Pond.
“Tour Edge has donated a golf bag for anybody who gets a hole-in-one, as well as prizes for anybody who gets the ball on the green,” Miller said. “It’s challenging. Maybe 10 to 15 people every year get it on the green.”
The cost is $5 for five shots. Hours of operation will be from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, and 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Another featured activity is the pet parade, which will be at 10 a.m. Saturday. Registration will be near the main stage from 9:15 to 9:50 a.m.
Prizes will be awarded in such categories as best trick, fastest wagging tail, most spots, longest ears and most unusual pet. Batavia barber Craig Foltos, who serves as master of ceremonies for the event, has seen a variety of animals participate in the parade, including salamanders and even a chicken.
“I just like seeing kids having fun with their pets,” Foltos said.
He is thankful temperatures for this year’s pet parade are forecast to be lower than last year.
“It will be easier on the pets,” Foltos said.
Anderson Animal Shelter in South Elgin will have animals to adopt at the event and will help judge the pet parade.
Foltos also will be the master of ceremonies for the ice cream eating contest at 2 p.m. Sunday, which will feature a 100-foot gutter filled with hundreds of scoops of ice cream. The contest is sponsored by Foltos Tonsorial Parlor and the Batavia Creamery.
Other activities include a wiffle ball home run derby at 1 p.m. Saturday, a diaper derby at 3 p.m. Saturday and the Batavia Park Foundation’s annual bags tournament at 6 p.m. Saturday. Cash prizes will go to the top two teams.
A full schedule of events is available online at www.windmillcityfest.org.