My turn

Lansing Autumn Fest aims to bring back that small hometown feel

2012-09-30T00:00:00Z 2012-10-10T09:45:03Z Lansing Autumn Fest aims to bring back that small hometown feelBy Carrie Steinweg Times Columnist
September 30, 2012 12:00 am  • 

We’re now less than two weeks away from the Lansing Autumn Fest. Each time I check in to see how it’s progressing, I hear more and more that is being added. The fest, which will take place for the first time from Oct. 12 to 14, is intended to be an annual festival that will pull together those living in Lansing and draw back those who have moved from outside the area, just like the Knights of Columbus’ annual steak fry did in the past.

The festival idea originated with four ladies, Jo-Ellyn Kelley, Sally Schlesinger, Pat Leck and Carolyn Scofield, interested in bringing a community event to the village reminiscent of some of the festivals of the past. With the starting point being a one-day car show event, the fest has grown to a full weekend of entertainment, food, an arts and crafts fair, games and more.

“What’s unique is that we’re involving every organization and church,” said Schlesinger, Lansing Autumn Fest Committee member and executive vice president of the Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau. The four-member volunteer planning committee is independent from the village or chamber of commerce, but has gotten support from both.

The kickoff event on Oct. 12 will be a “Brats, Burgers, Beer and Bands” event, with German music provided by the Friends of the Lansing Library from 5 to 7 p.m. and the band the Unstoppables from 8 to 10:30 p.m. There will also be some family friendly activities.

On Oct. 13, the fest opens at 10 a.m. with a downtown historical walk, hosted by Paul Schultz of the Lansing Historical Society, bingo, a Kid Zone game area, sports area, hay rides, an arts and crafts marketplace and food vendors. That evening there will be an outdoor showing of "The Wizard of Oz" at dusk at Winterhoff Park.

Musical entertainment for Oct. 13 includes the Heritage School chorus and Memorial Junior High School band and choir early in the day, followed by the Smiley Tilmon Band from 2 to 4 p.m., XFactor from 5 to 7 p.m. and Infinity from 8 to 10:30 p.m.

The fest continues on Oct. 14 with a villagewide tribute to our veterans and troops, starting with a USO-type event with coffee and doughnuts provided by the Lansing Chamber of Commerce, an appearance by the St. Ann choir and a performance by the Legacy Girls, who perform war-era tunes made famous by the Andrews Sisters. Additionally, there will be a color guard presentation, military uniforms display, camouflage face painting and military touch-a-truck activity.

Lansing Autumn Fest committee member Kelley and her husband, Vince, who own J.J. Kelley’s Restaurant in Lansing, are big military supporters. If you’ve been in the place, you’ve probably noticed a wall covered with photos of young local guys in military regalia and flags. The Kelleys have hosted fundraising events, welcome home celebrations and care package collections. “I’m really excited about Sunday,” she said. “There are events going on all day. I hope all the vets in the area can come out for a piece of it.”

Afternoon entertainment includes an acoustic show by Cody Provenzano and country band Brushfire.

The Pillars of Honor traveling World War II Memorial Model will be on display at T. F. South High School with a program at 1 p.m. An 8-foot by 8-foot scale model of the National World War II Memorial by architect Friedrich St. Florian will be unveiled following a tribute ceremony. The Pillars of Honor is a nonprofit organization dedicated to honoring World War II veterans unable to travel to Washington, D.C., to see their memorial in person.

World War II veterans or family members/friends can register a veteran, living or deceased, to be recognized on Oct. 14 at Lansing’s Day of Honor. To register, contact Pillars of Honor Inc., 770 Lee St., Suite 103, Des Plaines, IL 60016 or call (847) 954-0520 by Oct. 7.

“This is the biggest event Lansing has had in a long time,” Jo-Ellyn Kelley said. “We’re hoping to pull in everyone from Lansing and more from around the area.”

Volunteers are still needed for various assignments during the fest. If interested in helping, contact Debbie Waitekus at

For more information about the Lansing Autumn Fest, visit WWW.LANSINGFEST.COM and visit their page on Facebook at WWW.FACEBOOK.COM/LANSINGAUTUMNFEST.

The opinions are solely those of the writer. She can be reached at

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