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Hammond mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. and his team once again will bring top names in musical entertainment to Wolf Lake Park for the annual Festival Of The Lakes, July 18 to 22.

From R&B and funk, to Latin and country, and even a unique cultural pairing of rock with symphonic music, will fill the night air on the banks of Wolf Lake, as thousands gather for the free concert series.

Some of the biggest crowd attractions in past years have included REO Speedwagon, Cheap Trick, The Black Crowes, Billy Ray Cyrus and Los Lonely Boys. The latter group makes a return to the ninth annual event this summer, along with several first time visitors.

MC Hammer is scheduled to perform 7 p.m. July 18 with Naughty by Nature as the opening act. On July 19, it's Music of Led Zeppelin — A Rock Symphony featuring the Northwest Indiana Symphony. On July 20, George Clinton & Parliament Funkadelic takes the stage with Shaggy as the opening act. On July 21, Los Lonely Boys return to Hammond. Ozomatli and Los Lobos perform as opening acts. And to close the festival, Gretchen Wilson headlines on July 22. Tracylyn Lendi and Craig Campbell open.

"This year's line–up is huge," said Festival Of The Lakes talent buyer Omar Farag. "I think this year's Led Zeppelin meets the Northwest Indiana Symphony will be one of the greatest rock shows ever presented at the fest. ... It's a show that will leave people talking."

The July 19 performance is Windborne's Music of Led Zeppelin production.

Mayor McDermott said he saw Haven's Windborne Zeppelin tribute at The Venue at Hammond's Horseshoe Casino and was impressed. "I decided that night, it was a show we should try to bring the Festival Of The Lakes. It's a pretty remarkable show that Zeppelin fans won't want to miss."

"The main thing people need to understand is that this is a straight-up rock and roll show," Havens said. "It not a symphony show per se, but a crank 'em up rock show. The entire orchestra is mic'd and they are as much a part of our band as we are of the orchestra. The merging of the two groups is what really makes this show special."

McDermott said the purpose of Festival of The Lakes — once known as Hammond's Augustfest — has always been to promote the city and celebrate the diversity of its people, while giving families a chance to enjoy time together.

"Los Lonely Boys gave us one of our biggest nights ever in the past and I'm sure they will pack 'em in again this year," McDermott said.

Farag agreed that Los Lonely Boys have become a local favorite.

"Los Lonely Boys along with Los Lobos are a perfect blend of Latin and rock that the people of Hammond and the region seem to really love. Adding three time Grammy Award winners Ozomatli to the bill really makes this a major event," he said.