ELBURN – Chris Mileto watched Saturday as the tractor pull portion of Elburn Days took place, marveling at his first-ever glimpse of such an event.
Mileto, a Chicago resident, was in Elburn to run in the Elburn Days 5K on Saturday morning, a race he won. His girlfriend, St. Charles resident Samantha Yanni, also ran in the race, and they decided to stay for the all-you-can-eat pancake breakfast. By the afternoon, they found themselves still enjoying the festival.
"I'm from Chicago. We don't do this," Mileto said, gesturing at the tractor pull. "This is awesome."
Elburn Days got underway with a big crowd at Friday night's parade on Route 47 in downtown Elburn. On Saturday, more crowds showed up as festival activities continued. Also, the junior and teen champions were crowned at the Elburn Idol competition. The event continued through Sunday night at Lions Park, 500 Filmore St., Elburn.
Geneva's San Sandberg performed the Carrie Underwood hit "Blown Away" to win the Elburn Idol teen competition. Sandberg's performance included a strategically placed fan that moved her hair to add some flair. Aimee Frost finished second in the teen competition.
Sandberg, who said she has been singing since she was 3 years old, said she was in her first time at Elburn Idol, but she has spent the last few months putting together an impressive showing at singing competitions. She finished among the top 10 in a Chicago's Got Talent competition in Arlington Heights, and she won the Fox Valley's Rep's talent contest. Her mother, Jane Sandberg, said the talent at such competitions has been impressive.
"I love it," Jane Sandberg said.
The Sandbergs were excited about part of San's victory prize – an opportunity to open for the popular local band Back Country Roads. San said she is a big fan of country music.
The junior Elburn Idol competition was won by Maggie Madziarczyk, a sixth-grader at Kaneland Harter Middle School. Katie Landahl, who did an a cappella version of the song "Cups" while playing the cups, finished second. And Eva Ottoson finished third.
Madziarczyk said it was the first time she had won a singing competition, though n. She performed "Caught in the Storm." She is a Sugar Grove resident. Her mother, Jennifer, said Maggie has been involved in 19 theater productions, including "Scrooge, the Musical," at the Steel Beam Theatre and "It's a Wonderful Life" at the Fox Valley Repertory. She was second in the Kane County Fair's Got Talent contest.
Jennifer Madziarczyk said the family is thrilled with Maggie's success.
"It's a musical, creative family, but none of us can sing," she said, adding there are several musicians, and, of course, Maggie has proven she can sing.
Elsewhere at the fair, Kaneland High School cheerleaders were sitting in a dunk tank, raising funds for the group as customers paid for the opportunity to hit a target and drop the girls into a tank of water. Two girls sat at a time.
Sinclair Cress, a freshman, was shivering under a towel after a half-hour session in which she said she was dunked as many as 20 times. It was Cress' first time but another team member, Alexis Lund, a junior, knew it was a good thing to sit in the tank during the day.
"At night, there is a breeze," Lund said.
It's a popular fundraiser, Lund said, and the girls stay busy climbing back from the tank after someone hits a target. And even if they don't, she said, they're sometimes invited to press the target to dunk the cheerleader. That happened after Lund's shift, when Elburn brothers Austin and James Hall, ages 7 and 9 respectively, weren't able to sink the girls despite hitting the targets.
Lund, who also was shivering, said she would be ready to go back in after sitting out for a half-hour. The event is fun, she said, but even on a warm summer day, with temperatures in the 80s, it can be a chilly experience.
"Yeah, I'm cold," she said. "The water is freezing."
Yanni and Mileto couldn't get enough of the festival after the race, and they weren't sure where they would go after the tractor pull. They both agreed it was an impressive scene.
"It makes my Toyota Tacoma look like a girlie truck," Yanni said, commenting on how large the vehicles involved in the tractor pull were.