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Summer festivals, shows on tap for Kane County

Patrons walk the midway in the carnival area of the 2013 City of St. Charles RiverFest.
Patrons walk the midway in the carnival area of the 2013 City of St. Charles RiverFest.

The fact that temperatures are starting to warm up is another reminder that the outdoor festival season is just around the corner.

For those seeking some outdoor fun, Kane County offers plenty of activities. Helping kick off the summer festival season is the 16th annual St. Charles Fine Art Show on May 24 and 25 and the City of St. Charles RiverFest, which will take place June 6 to 8 in downtown St. Charles.

Those who come to the St. Charles Fine Art Show will see a variety of art made by more than 100 juried artists. The show will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 24 and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 25 on Riverside Avenue between Main Street and Illinois Avenue in downtown St. Charles.

“Each year there are between 100 to 110 artists from all over the country, so they definitely know they are seeing some good work,” said Jamie Blair, events coordinator for the Downtown St. Charles Partnership, which puts on the show.

For the second straight year, the show will feature Art Talks, where artists will discuss their works.

“We have some of the artists talk about their work and how they create it and their inspiration for what they do,” Blair said. “We had it last year, but this year they will be at their booths so they get to talk and show their work at the same time.”

The show will also feature acoustic musicians who will perform in a tent in the middle of the show.

“We’re trying to get music that blends in with the show that really just helps the atmosphere of it,” Blair said.

Another popular festival is the City of St. Charles RiverFest, which attracts up to 60,000 people a year, said Julie Farris, executive director of Pride of the Fox Inc., the nonprofit organization that produces the event.

But the festival does more than just bring people to the city, she said.

“Community festivals bring everybody together,” Farris said. “In the case of Riverfest, we bill that as having something for everyone, and we want to have families come down. Every member of the family, whether it’s a child or a grandma and grandpa, has something to do or enjoy.”

The festival, in its 32nd year, will once again feature the ever popular dragon boat races, as well as other activities such as live music; an artisan, vintage and craft market; and an ice cream eating contest.

In addition, RiverFest will feature several new activities, including the appearance of the Swifty Swine Racing Pigs.

“They are going to be in our barbecue-themed venue, which will feature all things barbecue,” Farris said.

This year also marks the 20th year of the fantasy sand sculptures that are built every year in front of the Municipal Center on East Main Street. To celebrate, two sculptures will be built simultaneously at this year’s festival.

“The general public will get to meet the creators, and they will also get to vote for their favorite sand sculpture,” Farris said.

In Geneva, Swedish Days will celebrate its 65th year when it takes place from June 17 to 22 in the city’s downtown area. The festival is billed as the “granddaddy” of Illinois festivals.

“It’s six days long, which in itself is a long festival,” said Laura Rush, communications manager for the Geneva Chamber of Commerce, which puts on Swedish Days. “Most festivals are not that long. But the amount of people it draws and the amount of activity that we have surpasses probably most festivals all over the United States, not just Illinois.”

Swedish Days, which draws an average of 200,000 people during its six-day run, is included in the American Bus Association’s Top 100 Events in North America for 2014 list.

Along with favorites like the rosemaling show – rosemaling is a form of decorative art – and the Swedish Days Parade, this year’s event will feature new activities, including some geared toward kids.

“We’re kind of saying that the kids are kicking off Swedish Days on Tuesday,” Rush said. “That day, we will have an event called Fair on the Square that will feature two hours of entertainment.”

As part of Fair on the Square, which will take place from 4 to 6 p.m. on Third Street, between James and Campbell streets, Istvan & His Imaginary Band will perform and The Rope Warrior will show off rope tricks.

“Those are two people we’ve never had here, but they come highly recommended,” Rush said. “And they look like a heck of a lot of fun.”

A craft beer garden also will be part of this year’s festival.

“Craft beer is a very popular concept, so we decided to capitalize on that,” Rush said. “But also, we wanted to try something that hadn’t been done before. There will be specialty tappings each night by the three local brewers that will be participating with their beer.”

Rush said adding new activities is what helps keep Swedish Days a popular event.

“We stay current,” she said. “We are constantly looking at new activities to bring to the festival.”

Know more

A list of upcoming festivals in Kane County, when they will take place and where more information can be found:

• St. Charles Fine Art Show, May 24-25,

• City of St. Charles RiverFest, June 6-8,

• Swedish Days, June 17-22,

• Windmill City Festival, July 10-13,

• Sugar Grove Corn Boil, July 25-27,

• Kane County Fair, July 16-20,

• North Aurora Days, Aug. 1-3,

• Elburn Days, Aug. 15-17,

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