It started small start, but the Dyer Summer Fest has grown to a multiday event attracting thousands to Pheasant Hills Park.
The family focused festival is set for June 5 to 9.
“We try to address all ages,” said Bob Block, chairman of the town's Summer Fest committee.
Summer Fest has a wide range of features, including parades, carnival rides, games, a motorcycle ride, food vendors, including Beggars Pizza and Bryan's Concessions, which will have numerous tents, and a beer garden. This explains why it's now in its 28th year.
Free live entertainment will be offered throughout the event that includes a tribute to veterans and first responders.
Together, the Dyer Wind Ensemble and Dixie Crush are among those providing musical performances at the Summer Fest.
On the last night of the program, fireworks will light up the sky.
A Kidz Zone is open to children 11 and younger throughout the Summer Fest. That area offers inflatables, mini golf, crafts, a prize wheel, games and other activities. Wristbands are $15 each, with in-and-out privileges on the day of purchase.
The main Summer Fest parade kicks off at 1 p.m. June 9, and organizers have again made arrangements to help families with young ones who have trouble with loud noises.
About a block and a half section of the parade route will be a designated quiet zone. Emergency vehicles in the parade will silence their sirens in that area and other participants will reduce noise.
Block said the committee started the quiet zone in 2018. It will be clearly marked with signage so families with special needs will know where it's located.
Summer Fest got its start nearly 30 years ago, Block said. A couple families in the community had the idea to have a community gathering right before the Fourth of July.
“They felt it was something they would like to do,” said Block, who has been involved in planning the festival for the last 10 years.
He described the early fests as “picnic-style” single-day events that featured small carnival rides and a few tents.
The town later expanded the festival and moved the date up to mark the unofficial start to summer in Dyer.
“Over the years it has grown to a five-day festival,” Block said.
The program was originally called the Dyer Freedom Festival, a nod to Independence Day. The name was changed to the Dyer Summer Fest after the town's centennial celebration in 2010, Block said.
Block said the Summer Fest is funded by community members and businesses that sponsor the event. Money that's remaining after each Summer Fest is deposited in the town's special activities account, he said.
Block said it takes almost a year to plan the fest. “It's an ongoing thing,” he said.
Not many changes are made year to year, but the committee reviews how each festival operates to determine what adjustments to the lineup should be made. “We kind of critique ourselves,” Block said.
The committee begins gathering regularly in October to plan the next year's event. It works to have the live entertainment lined up by January. Such organization helps when lining up Summer Fest sponsors, including Kennan Liquors, Nies Engineering, NIPSCO and Dyer Construction, Block said.
“I enjoy putting it all together,” he said, adding that there's something he likes even more: Watching others have a good time at the Summer Fest.
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