Festive spirit returns to Hammond lakefronts for 10th year

2013-07-10T02:00:00Z Festive spirit returns to Hammond lakefronts for 10th yearLu Ann Franklin nwitimes.com
July 10, 2013 2:00 am  • 

Live musical entertainment including local favorites and internationally-known headliners, carnival rides and midway games, contests and special events, children’s activities, free pontoon boat rides, a beer garden and a veritable feast of food choices – it’s all part of the fun and festivities at the 2013 Festival of the Lakes.

Now in its 10th year, this always-popular festival showcases Hammond’s three spectacular water fronts and has become a must-go destination for hundreds of thousands of area residents and visitors during the last decade.

Join family and friends for events at the Hammond Marina on Lake Michigan, at George Lake and the adjacent Lost Marsh Golf Course, and at Wolf Lake Memorial Park, 2938 S. Calumet Ave., where the majority of the festival takes place surrounding the award-winning Pavilion.

The fun for all ages begins Wednesday, July 17 and continues through Sunday, July 21. And, as always, there’s no admission charge for the festival or the entertainment. Park all day for just $15. Be sure to bring along your lawn chair and/or blanket. However, no pets or coolers are permitted.

Organized by the Hammond Parks & Recreation Department, the Festival of the Lakes creates excitement because of the wide range of events and attractions offered, says Hammond Mayor Thomas M. McDermott Jr.

“We continue to strive to keep this festival fun, fresh and interesting for citizens of all ages,” he says.

A NEW PARTNERSHIP TO HELP MAKE FOTL EVEN BETTER

Creating that new buzz for future festivals begins during this year’s Festival of the Lakes.

In June, Mayor McDermott joined South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority President/CEO Speros A. Batistatos to announce a new partnership between the City of Hammond and the South Shore CVA.

The City and the SSCVA will work closely to collect demographic data about who attends the festival each night and what those guests most enjoy. The goal is to collect marketing data at this year’s festival to help increase the crowd size and line up new sponsorships for future festivals.

“This is exciting news. The South Shore Convention and Visitors Authority will use their expertise in data collection that helped them take the Gary Air Show from a small show to a spectacular show that drew people from all over the country and from other countries,” the mayor says during a news conference held at the Indiana Welcome Center on June 13.

Because of the federal sequester, the SSCVA cancelled this year’s air show, making the expert team available to help boost the Festival of the Lake marketing efforts.

“This is the 10th annual Festival of the Lakes and the information we will be collecting will help us take this event to the next level,” Mayor McDermott says.

Each night of the festival, both city representatives and SSCVA staff will gather demographic information by asking about 400 to 500 attendees if they would like to complete a survey of eight to 10 questions. Each person who responds receives a chance to win a special backstage pass to meet the entertainers that night as well as tickets for adult beverages at the Beer Garden.

Batistatos says special event promotion one of the most important things any community can do. The data will help the city understand the impact of festival advertising and the demographic of attendees, which is vital in making decisions on what talent to feature, Batistatos says.

“Talent (entertainment) is hugely expensive,” McDermott says. “We’re in competition with Four Winds and The Venue at Horseshoe for bands.”

The data gathering will help the City and the SSCVA open an e-mail dialogue among attendees as a way to sell more hotel rooms, highlight restaurants and receive feedback on musical acts.

“It's not unusual to dig into a very mature, successful event and take it to the next level with this kind of marketing data,” Batistatos says. "Our staff is here, and we're very excited to do it.”

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