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Season of festivals: Region's big events are back

Season of festivals: Region's big events are back

Region fun seekers can get ready to share in the convivial atmosphere of upcoming local fests and fairs.

This month, many of the area's large-scale festivals are opening and beckoning people with plenty of live entertainment, food, carnival rides and other attractions. The fun goes on for the next couple of months as all of the fairs and festivals Regionites have come to enjoy are once again back on the scene.

After a year and a half of the world being in the throes of the pandemic, festival organizers said people are ready and willing to venture out and let the fun begin.

Event organizers said, for the most part, festgoers will find many of the same attractions they've come to expect. There will, however, be more attention paid to health and safety concerns at all of the festivals.

"Safety of the people is of utmost priority during the fest," said Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. The City of Hammond and will present Festival of the Lakes Tuesday through Sunday at Hammond's Wolf Lake Memorial Park, 2324 Calumet Ave.

McDermott said a large police presence will be stationed on the grounds of the event.

The fest stars big name entertainment daily, food, carnival rides and other attractions. Highlights include a gospel breakfast on Saturday and concerts by Old Dominion on Tuesday; Nelly/Busta Rhymes on Wednesday; Limp Bizkit on Thursday; REO Speedwagon on Friday; Sammy Hagar and The Circle on Saturday; and Los Tucanes de Tijuana on Sunday.

Pierogi Fest

Whiting's Pierogi Fest is also back to heat up the scene.

"It was a personal disappointment and also a disappointment for our volunteers and attendees not to have Pierogi Fest last year," said Tom Dabertin, chairman and co-founder of Whiting's Pierogi Fest.

"We're ready to go," Dabertin said about everyone's excitement about Pierogi Fest, which happens July 23-25 in downtown Whiting.

Dabertin said most of the activities and special events associated with Pierogi Fest will remain the same. Among changes for this year's event will be more health and safety precautions including sanitizers situated throughout fest grounds.

"There'll also be more safety measures for the food service staff," he said. Dabertin also added there will be no picnic tables for people to eat right on 119th Street. Tables will be located adjacent to 119th Street so people aren't congregated eating right along the festival and vendor pathway.

The fest, celebrating all things pierogi, features food vendors specializing in pierogi and other fair foods and culinary fare. Live entertainment, the Pierogi Fest Parade, Buscia Cooking Show, appearances by Mr. Pierogi, Pierogi Toss and Pierogi Eating Contest are among highlights.

Lake County Fair

The Lake County Fair will take place Aug. 6-15 in Crown Point at the Lake County Fairgrounds, 889 S. Court St.

"We are very excited to be back," said Arlene Marcinek, secretary for Lake County Fair. "We missed everyone and missed having a fair."

She said many of the attractions will be the same including the Livestock Nursery, where people can see live animal births.

"This year we'll also have three days of the Monster Truck Show," she said.

Marcinek said they've eliminated some of the kids contests so there wouldn't be too much close contact between participants and their parents and others who would be viewing the events. The open house in the Family Arts Building also won't take place.

Among health and safety precautions will be more sanitizers around the fair grounds.

"And we want to remind people if they feel more comfortable wearing a mask, please wear them," she said.

Highlights of the annual event include Three Bar J Rodeo, Harvest Tyme Kids Farm, Monster Truck Shows, Flower Show, agricultural displays, carnival midway, food vendors and more.

LaPorte County Fair

LaPorte County Fair fans will also be happy this summer.

"People are very excited to come to the fair," said Steve Mrozinski, LaPorte County Fair board president. "I think it will be packed."

The county fair, which is celebrating its 175th anniversary, continues through Saturday in LaPorte at the county fairgrounds, 2581 Ind. 2.

Mrozinski said the concert by country superstar Toby Keith scheduled for Thursday created a big buzz and is already sold out.

He said they'll be ensuring that people "stay safe" with the addition of sanitizer stations around the fair and signage promoting social distancing and safety.

The fair features various food vendors, carnival rides, grandstand entertainment and more.

Attractions include Rolling Stone Rodeo Company, The Curious Kids Trail, Pioneerland and more. Concerts featured will be Chase Rice and Ashland Craft on Wednesday; and Keith with opener Laine Hardy on Thursday.

Porter County Fair

Porter County Fair takes place July 22-31 in Valparaiso at the Porter County Fairgrounds, 217 E. Division Road.

"We're excited to have a fair. We're looking forward to it," said David Bagnall, fair manager of the Porter County Fair.

Bagnall said people have responded favorably to this year's entertainment, which includes a concert by country singer Miranda Lambert on July 23. "Miranda Lambert's concert is nearly sold out," he said.

According to CDC guidelines, Bagnall said, many sanitizer stations will be located throughout the fairgrounds.

"And we're encouraging people who are not vaccinated to wear masks," he said.

The fair will star assorted food vendors, agricultural displays, musical entertainment, rides and other events.

Attractions include 4-H events, animal shows, Night of Destruction Demolition Derby and more. Grandstand entertainment schedule is Brantley Gilbert with special guest Lauren Alaina on July 22; Lambert with special guest Adam Doleac on July 23; and For King & Country with special guest Rebecca St. James on July 24.

Other Region festivals and summer events include:

  • Lake Fest, July 30 to Aug.1, on LaPorte's Pine, Stone and Clear lakes. The inaugural Lake Fest will highlight art, music, food and other attractions. The main event will be Aqua Jet Ski Races on July 31 and Aug. 1.
  • Lakefront Festival, Aug. 19-22 at Festival Park, 111 E. Old Ridge Road, Hobart. The annual event features an arts and crafts fair, live music, beer garden, food and more. Among highlights is the Dam Duck Race on Aug. 22.
  • Popcorn Festival, Sept. 11, downtown Valparaiso. The fest highlights popcorn including a Popcorn Parade, arts and crafts booths, food vendors, live entertainment and more.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.

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