CROWN POINT | This Sunday’s inaugural Public Enemy Fest at the Lake County Fairgrounds will have much to offer for history buffs, organizer Tim Fealy said.
The 1930s-themed fest, open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., will raise money for a local charity chosen by participants in the 5K walk/run. Organizations receiving the most votes and a random drawing winner receive a portion of the event’s proceeds.
“It's always fascinated me that a bit of national history happened just a few blocks down the street,” Fealy said, referring to John Dillinger's March 3, 1934, escape from the old Lake County Jail on South Main Street.
“I am a history buff and a big movie fan as well. When they filmed part of the movie 'Public Enemies' in Crown Point, that seemed to be the perfect opportunity for us to develop some tourism.”
The region got a taste of Hollywood in late March 2008 when actor Johnny Depp filmed portions of the movie in Crown Point.
Fealy said the big news is that the South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority is bringing the original wooden gun Dillinger used in his Crown Point escape.
The visitors authority confirmed this is the first time the gun has been in Crown Point since Dillinger's escape.
"This is a real piece of history," Fealy said.
Fealy said Porter County Sheriff Dave Lain will bring the Tommy gun stolen by Dillinger when he escaped.
“After the escape, Sheriff Lane tells me, Dillinger used it in at least three subsequent bank robberies,” Fealy said.
The visitors authority is also bringing its 1933 Essex-Terraplane from the Dillinger Museum.
“This is the car used by Johnny Depp when he portrayed Dillinger,” Fealy said.
Unfortunately, not all history is favorable, Fealy said.
“But, there are many places that have taken their unfavorable history and turned it into something positive for their community,” Fealy said. “For instance, my friend and I just returned from running in the Hatfield-McCoy Marathon. If they can do that elsewhere, why couldn't we do the same thing here?”
The Northwest Regional SWAT team and the Crown Point and Lake County Sheriff’s K-9 units will give demonstrations and the Lake County sheriff's helicopter lands at the festival at 11 a.m.
There is a prohibition-era costume contest and a vintage car contest featuring 1920s and 1930s models. Live entertainment will be provided by HGS Music. There will be food and merchandise vendors.