Oswego’s annual PrairieFest returns with bands from the 90s, an award-winning country music artist and a daredevil artist.
PrairieFest takes place June 16-19 at PrairieFest Park. Last year, PrairieFest was held on Labor Day weekend.
“It was nice for everyone to get together, but it’s a tradition that people have on their calendars, so we’re very excited to be back on Father’s Day weekend,” said Superintendent Kristie Vest. cultural arts and events in the Oswegoland Park District. .
The festival has many of the same traditions as in the past, she said.
“Then we also have new stuff, like the Rock-N-Circus that we’ve been performing all weekend,” she said. “There’s this great guy coming in and doing all this crazy 80s music stuff, which I think is unbelievable. It culminates with him jumping off a ladder 65 feet high.
His name is Shane Hansen and his nationally touring Rock-N-Circus number is a modern circus stunt show with trampolines, juggling and fire. Vest likes the idea that he’s someone people probably haven’t seen before. In the past they have brought in loggers and BMX riders.
All performances are free, as are concerts and activities in the activity tent, she said.
“Really, you’re paying for the food and the carnival,” she said.
Alternative rock band The Smithereens will perform Friday night with lead singer Marshall Crenshaw, who had a hit with “Someday, Someway” in 1982 and portrayed Buddy Holly in the 1987 film, “La Bamba.” The Smithereens had hits like “Blood and Roses” and “A Girl Like You.” Crenshaw has joined The Smithereens as a guest vocalist since the death in 2017 of their frontman Pat DiNizio.
“In the ’90s, the CD I had was ‘International Pop Overthrow’ by a Chicago band called Material Issue,” Vest said. “They got back together a few years ago and are going to play PrairieFest. And they only have six events on their schedule, so we’re really excited to have them here.
Material Issue will open for The Smithereens.
Country music fans will want to mark their calendars for Saturday night at PrairieFest, when country singer and Millington native Woody James performs with his band Carolina Pine. Yorkville’s Ethan Bell Band will open for Saturday’s headliner, country music singer-songwriter Phil Vassar.
“It’s going to be a really good Saturday night,” she said.
The Beatles American English tribute act occurs on Sunday.
The organizers are committed to putting on a festival that brings familiarity and at the same time something new to the table.
“It was really important to us that these events and traditions that people associate with their PrairieFest (remain.) We wanted to make sure we had a really great parade on Sunday, Father’s Day, because we know that has been near and dear to people’s hearts for over three decades,” she said. “We wanted to honor what came before; however, we wanted to ensure that we are responding to a community that has changed.
For example, PrairieFest will host a “Hot Ones with Gindo’s Spice of Life” event on Friday in the Food and Fun tent.
“They’re going to show you the spiciest stuff they have to see what people can endure,” she said.
Saturday will feature a Band Slam for up-and-coming teen musicians in the family tent, she said.
Other activities kids can enjoy include a Touch-A-Truck event, petting zoo, pony rides, gymnastics obstacle course, team cotton candy eating contest and a concert for children of Wendy and DB.
There will be a fishing clinic on Saturday morning at Chesterfield Park and the Oswegoland Fishin’ Fools group will be on hand with bait and rods to help new anglers get started. There will be a blood drive, free CPR training and pet adoption event on Saturdays and a PrairieFest 5k run and one-mile prairie dog jog on Sunday.
The community art project is a continuation of modern barn quilts launched in partnership with Fox River Arts and Music Academy, she said. The three giant mural-sized quilts that were decorated at last year’s festival hang along Plainfield Road at the Prairie Point Center on the barns there, she said. New quilts will also be used to decorate areas throughout the city.
“There’s a lot going on and it really shows the kind of community that hosts PrairieFest,” she said.
When it comes to food at the festival, PrairieFest is second to none, she said. Actor Anthony Anderson filmed an episode of his Food Network show “Carnival Cravings” here in 2015. PrairieFest food has also been featured on Cooking Channel’s “Carnival Eats.”
“We tend to have a pretty impressive range of dishes and this year it’s the same,” she said. “I think we’re keen to go through the whole range and everything is delicious there.”
A few of the food choices include Rainbow Cone, Churro Babes with churros and frozen matcha, Delicja Polish Foods with pierogi and kielbasas, Freddie’s off the Chain taco truck, Quality Concessions from Wisconsin with fried cheese curds, and That’s My Dawg with more than just Chicago style hot dogs.
The PrairieFest parade kicks off at 1 p.m. Sunday with around 50 entries.
“The hacky-sack world record holder is going to walk again and he’s doing tricks all the way,” she said.
People enjoy PrairieFest and come back year after year because of the small-town vibe, Vest said.
“I think there are always discussions in a town like Owego as we grow, are we still that small town? I think once a year at PrairieFest, it’s a chance for the people who live here to decide that we will always define ourselves by the good qualities that we can see in a small town, “she said. said.
“We will always be there to celebrate with each other and raise funds for those in need. Everyone loves a festival because it’s fun. And it’s a lot of fun at PrairieFest. But I also think we look to PrairieFest to decide what kind of community we want to live in.
“And people show up to volunteer and people show up to enjoy an afternoon together or a summer night and I think PrairieFest helps us connect with who we want to be.”
When: 3pm-11pm June 16, 10am-11pm June 17-18, 9am-6pm June 19
Where: PrairieFest Park, 91 Plank Drive, Oswego
Information: 630-554-1010; prairiefest.com
Annie Alleman is a freelance journalist for the Beacon-News.