ELBURN – This year’s Elburn Days, an annual three-day gathering of fun, family and friends on Aug. 16 to Aug. 18, marks the Elburn Lions 90th anniversary. The Elburn club, chartered by Lions Club International on September 14, 1929, has grown from the original 15 members to its current roster of about 200 members.
Now one of the largest and most active Lions Clubs in Illinois and the country, the Elburn Lions put their heart and soul into making Elburn Days, the biggest fundraiser of the year for Lions Park and Lions Club charities, an entertaining and memorable experience for all ages. Each year, Elburn Lions Club members, their families and others donate hundreds of hours of their time to make the festival a success.
The three-day event kicks off with the parade down Main Street at 6 p.m. on Friday night, winding up on the south side of town at Lions Park, where the fun has already begun. The 26-acre park holds something for everyone, including the Elburn Chamber’s annual craft fair, a beer garden where friends meet up and enjoy live music on the main stage, and entertainment for all ages, from the 4-H petting zoo to kid’s activities at the Community Stage to carnival rides and Bingo games.
There’s always plenty of food. In addition to the usual fair food, with funnel cakes and more, Lions volunteers will be cooking up ribeye steak and pork chop sandwiches and Ream’s hot dogs and brats – “Everybody loves Reams,” Elburn Days organizer Ed Stuehm said. Beer and wine is available in the beer garden or stop by the Leos (younger Lions) stand for a root beer float.
Stuehm said the truck and tractor pull on Saturday is always one of the festival’s most popular events. With five different classes of vehicles, including everything from stock and altered pickups to 4X4 trucks and tractors, he said he has seen “some of the most amazing vehicles come into the park.”
The mud volleyball tournament on Sunday is also a crowd-pleaser, whether participating or as a spectator, Stuehm said. This year there are 40 entries.
“They get really down and dirty,” he said with a laugh.
The 4-H livestock judging takes place on Saturday morning, where the 4-H members show off all the work they’ve done with their animals all year. Sunday is the auction where they hope all that hard work will literally pay off.
The 4-H’ers will set up a petting zoo throughout the weekend at the livestock building, where people who come by can see the animals up close. The 4-H members will also educate visitors on how they take care of their animals and answer any questions.
Other competitions include a bags tournament on Saturday, a remote control car race and a pie-baking contest on Sunday. Visitors to the festival don’t even have to miss church, as an outdoor church service takes place in the park on Sunday morning.
Steuhm said new this year, the Lions Club will offer free children’s vision screening at set times throughout the weekend.
“It’s a quick and easy way to see if your child needs glasses,” he said.
The free vision screening keeps with the Lions Club mission of fighting blindness, although the charities they support include not only programs assisting the visually impaired, such as the purchase of trained seeing eye dogs, but also child diabetes research, local food pantries, hearing loss services as well as simply assisting people in need, said Steuhm.
The proceeds from Elburn Days and other fundraising events throughout the year help to support their mission. Participation in the raffles during the weekend also contribute to these programs.
For more information about Elburn Days, including a schedule of events, visit www.elburnlions.com/elburn-days.
Railside 4/7, a 1-mile fun run/walk, a 4-mile run and a 7-mile run sponsored by Railside Charities NFP and supporting local charities, takes place on Saturday morning, starting and finishing at John Stewart Elementary School, 817 Prairie Valley. For more information, visit http://railside47.com.