BATAVIA – Summer fun will spin into view with the return of the Batavia Windmill Festival from July 13 to 15.
"One of our popular attractions is we have 7th Heaven, our headliner Friday night this year," said Katie Drum, director of marketing for the Batavia Park District. "That's something certainly that brings in a ton of people."
Last year's three-day festival drew about 12,000 visitors, she said of the city's biggest party. With Sunday's special focus on children's events, the musical entertainers invited back are Istvan and His Imaginary Band at 1 p.m. and Miss Jamie's Farm at 2 p.m.
Last summer saw the debut of the Fun Zone, featuring elaborate inflatables whose variety will be expanded.
"Some of those new items [include] a 38-foot wacky obstacle course," Drum said. "We'll have a Velcro sticky wall. You can bounce and jump and stick yourself to a giant sticky wall – wearing a Velcro suit [in one of] three different sizes. All of these [inflatables] have attendants, people there to help out."
Others will have baseball and basketball themes, along with a pirate slide. New will be My Little Farm, designed to cater to much younger toddlers. Drum recommends children wear socks because the plastic warms up in the sunshine.
Drum said she received positive feedback that children enjoyed the inaugural Fun Zone and the opportunity to be more active, which is in line with the Park District's mission. The daily wristband price will remain the same at $15, which allows unlimited entry for a single day.
Quad Power Jump tickets cost $5 each, with pre-sales available. It offers gravity-defying fun blending trampoline action with bungee-harness motion.
The festival is very much a family affair, and one youth getting involved will be 11-year-old Marilyn Gans of Batavia, who will be a guest at the keyboard for several numbers with her dad's band, Hillbilly Allstarz, taking the stage from 6 to 8 p.m. July 13. Her father, David, one of the vocalists and lead guitarist, notes the band likes to encourage the next generation of musicians.
Marilyn Gans is a Hal Leonard Composition Competition gold medalist and is writing a piece for string quartet to be debuted this fall with the Fox Valley Youth Orchestra where she sits as violinist.
'I'm excited to play with the Hillbilly Rockstarz and hope to do more festival shows," she said in an email.
Ample opportunities for fun are in store for every age from an ice cream eating contest to the beer garden, where Batavia Lions Club members will assist. On the main stage, the other featured bands will include The Paul and Jay Duo, Fool House, Hi Infidelity and Red Woody.
Returning events include the Chuck the Duck water race at 1 p.m. July 15, and a Diaper Derby put on at 3 p.m. July 14 by the Batavia Mothers' Club with registration beginning at 2:30 p.m. near the main stage. “Toss for a Cause” players compete for cash prizes in the Batavia Parks Foundation’s annual bags tournament at 6 p.m. July 14.
People can tee up at this year’s Golf Challenge for great prizes, Drum said. Ages 10 and older can take a shot at chipping a hole-in-one or landing on the floating green in Depot Pond. The cost is $5 for five balls. Hours are 4 to 8 p.m. July 13; noon to 8 p.m. July 14; and noon to 6 p.m. July 15.
Youth and adults can compete in the ice cream eating contest – no hands allowed at the two 50-foot gutters with hundreds of scoops of ice cream – at 2 p.m. July 15, sponsored by Foltos Tonsorial Parlor and Batavia Creamery.
Craft and Vintage Market
Veteran woodworker Dean Hatzis of Geneva will be one of the artisans in the Craft and Vintage Market.
"I'm going to be selling birdhouses, wooden American Girl doll furniture for that 18-inch doll size and a lot of little things with mason jars and crates for the kitchen … [plus] wooden tote trays," Hatzis said, adding that specially for the festival, he crafts 12-inch windmills designed for indoor display.
He said the birdhouses' designs are for wrens, chickadees, nuthatches and finches. And the doll furniture includes a wooden bunk-bed, a single bed, a little table and chairs, and a desk with chair and accompanying chalkboard.
"I love woodworking," Hatzis said, noting he's returning for a second year. "It's a really nice event."
Hatzis will be one of about 25 exhibitors, according to Jennifer Putzier, director of the Batavia Depot Museum, which organizes the Craft and Vintage Market.
"We keep it to [a] handmade or hand-curated collection," Putzier said, noting that the booth fees will support programming at the museum.
Drum said there will be more focus on local food vendors at the request of festival-goers.
"We do have some local favorites: Andres' Restaurant; Bernie's Bully Dogs; Angelo's International Concessions based in Batavia; Scout Troop 43 [featuring] brats and a corn boil; El Taco Grande; Gindo's [Spice of Life]; N'awlins Edibles, a local catering company," Drum said. "[Also] Noonan's BBQ & Sports Bar; Pal Joey's; Salsa Verde will have a taco bar; Team FIB BBQ [which] always sells out of their brisket; and Nothing Bundt Cakes."
Before Saturday morning's Pet Parade steps off at 10 a.m., Jim Nesci of Cold Blooded Creatures will be on hand with his critters beginning at 9:30 a.m. Pet Parade participants can register from 9:15 to 9:50 a.m. near the main stage. Pets can win best overall in five categories: Best Trick, Most Unusual Pet, Best Costume, Highest Jump and Best Kisser. The first 50 registered participants will receive a complimentary doggie bag to take home. The event is sponsored by Batavia Animal Clinic, DePAW University and Pet Supplies Plus - North Aurora.
Something brand new will be Bubble Ball Soccer from 3 to 5 p.m. July 15. Drum said kids and adults can enjoy the free game in which players are inside a giant, soft inflatable ball.
"You're completely encased except for your feet," Drum said, noting two to four players compete against each other. "You can bump your bubble."
The Windmill City Festival committee includes representatives from the Batavia Park District, Batavia Chamber of Commerce and the city of Batavia. People interested in volunteering at the event should contact Drum at firstname.lastname@example.org or 630-879-5235.
Bulldogs Unleashed contest
The Bulldogs Unleashed team will conduct a judging contest for the fundraising project's puppy-sized statues, which will be on display for voting in the City Hall council chambers from 6 to 9 p.m. July 13; 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. July 14; and noon to 3 p.m. July 15. People can vote for best in show in both youth and adult categories for a suggested $1 donation, with winners announced at 3:45 p.m. July 15.
If you go
WHAT: Windmill City Festival
WHEN: 4 p.m. July 13 to 6 p.m. July 15
WHERE: Downtown Batavia
COST: Free admission
INFO: Full schedule at windmillcityfest.org; 630-879-5235