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The tradition of bringing top shelf free musical entertainment to the Pavilion at Wolf Lake continues as Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and his staff ready the stage for Festival of the Lakes.

The event, which runs July 18 to 22, will offer five days of amped up music of varying styles and genres. Festival of the Lakes celebrates its 15th anniversary this year.

Early birds can get their music on early at the City of Hammond-sponsored Festival of the Lakes Launch Party on July 12 at 18th Street Brewery with live music sets by past festival performers Jamrose and The Crawpuppies. The event runs from 5 to 8 p.m.Those attending have the opportunity to win VIP Experience passes. Like the festival itself, entry to the preview party is free.

This year's Festival of the Lakes musical headliners are  Grandmaster Flash with support sets by the national acts Color Me Badd and Tone Loc  (July 18); Gurnee, Illinois' heavy rock exports Chevelle (July 19); hard rockers Sublime with Rome (July 20); Nas with Twista and K'La (July 21); and this year's Latin Music Night which closes out the event features Banda Carnaval with opening sets by Banda Nueva Raza, Magia Negra and Group of Banderos (July 22).

As always, McDermott's team has paired up a few regionally-based artists that complement the diverse musical styles of the star attractions. Those openers for 2018 include Lights Over Bridgeport and Zombie Schoolboy (July 19), with Bonfire and Dick Diamond & The Dusters (July 20).

Admission to the festival is free daily, but there is a per car parking fee of $25, whether there is one person or an entire family in a vehicle. Mayor McDermott credits the generosity of the event's sponsors for making Festival of the Lakes possible each summer, as the sponsors help defray the cost of bringing in such top entertainment acts for five consecutive nights of free performances.

The live music is just part of the enjoyment for those who venture out to the park, as there also is a huge landscape of carnival rides, game booths, and food vendors plus several special events taking place throughout the five day run.

"It’s a week-long family friendly festival for both kids and adults," Mayor McDermott said when speaking of the annual event. "We have great entertainment every night, along with many special events like the Golf Scramble, the kids fishing derby, a 5k run, Senior Day activities, the always popular Polka Party, free fireworks, and a lot more going on. We take pride that Festival of the Lakes really has something for everyone!"

Along with entertaining Hammond residents, Festival of the Lakes is a great public relations event for the city as it draws people from many surrounding communities who might not otherwise visit Hammond's beautiful Marina and Wolf Lake Memorial Park.

The following events are some of the highlights of the festival:

• Senior Day on July 20 includes a special performance of big band favorites and pop standards of the '40s and '50s by The Pete Carlo Three in The Clipper Room (701 Casino Drive) at the Hammond Marina. Folks 55 and older are treated to a free lunch, a special goody bag and optional free health screenings. That same day is Special Persons' Day at Wolf Lake Park, which includes a free hot dog and chips lunch, free carnival rides and free goody bags.

• Also on July 20, area golfers can compete for trophies and more in the annual Golf Scramble at Lost Marsh Golf Course, which is just a short distance from Wolf Lake Park (registration 8 a.m./shotgun start 9 a.m.). A $400 registration fee per foursome is required; and includes a complimentary lunch and T-shirts for participants, etc. Trophies will be presented following the event.

• The Kathleen Pucalik Memorial 5K Walk/Run and the Fishing Derby both happen on July 21. Broken into various age divisions, the walk/run begins and ends at the Wolf Lake Aquatic Play Center, and has a starting time of 7 a.m. There's a $20 registration fee ($25 day of event). The derby is presented by the Hammond Parks & Recreation Department with The Optimist Club of Hammond on July 21 from 8 a.m. to noon at Wolf Lake Memorial Park for children ages 15 and younger with trophies presented. Entry is $1. July 21 is also Kids Day offering free splash pad fun from 10 a.m. to 3:45 p.m. for kids 12 and younger. The fest's annual Mad Bomber's Fireworks Show will light up the sky over Wolf Lake at around 10 p.m. on July 21.

• The Rod, Custom & Bike Show brings classic cars and motorcycles to Wolf Lake Memorial Park on July 22 (noon to 3 p.m.). Entry is $15 with registration from 9 a.m. and noon. There will be DJ-spun oldies music, with dash plaques, door prizes, and awards in the 19 different class registrations.

• The Polka Party on July 22 happens just down the road from Wolf Lake Park at the Hammond Marina (701 Casino Center Drive) where Tri-City Drive, a sextet led by drummer Tim Okrzesik, will play. A celebration of Polish heritage with music and dance runs from 2 to 6 p.m. Authentic Polish food prepared by Cavalier Inn and refreshments will be available for purchase. Admission and parking are free, but attendees are advised to bring lawn chairs and blankets.