Photo by Dermot Connolly
Mr. D "elevates" Faith McGrath, 9, of Chicago Ridge, during his magic act at RidgeFest on Super Family Day Sunday. Faith was at the show with her sister, Sarah, and mother Kristy Nytam, when the magician picked her out of the crowd.
By Dermot Connolly
By all accounts, the 30th annual RidgeFest held last weekend in Chicago Ridge was a resounding success, with great weather and popular bands drawing large crowds to the festival in Freedom Park all four nights.
“We had an excellent weekend. The crowds were amazing. God gave us perfect weather for four straight days — he deserves a lot of the credit,” said Chicago Ridge Mayor Chuck Tokar.
“The crowds were huge, bigger than we expected,” said the mayor, especially on Friday when the BoDeans were the headliner and Saturday, when Smash Mouth was.
“The BoDeans were here 10 years ago too, so I expected them to draw a big crowd — it looked from the stage like all the available space was taken up. Smash Mouth also did well. Even on Thursday, a lot of people came out to see Infinity and Hairbangers Ball. And Free Fallin’ draw a large crowd for a Sunday night too,” said the mayor, referring to the Tom Petty tribute band that played two sets, taking a break in between for the always-popular fireworks show to finish off the festivities.
“This really was a great night,” said Palos Park resident Pam Romanek after watching the BoDeans on Friday. “I used to come to this years ago but I haven’t been back in a while.”
There was a lot more to the fest than music also. Especially on Sunday, called “Super Family Day,” when there were a lot of attractions for all ages. These included Mr. D’s Magic Show, a petting zoo, pony rides, and Dave DiNaso’s Traveling World of Reptiles, a perennial favorite where kids and adults alike got up close with boa constrictors, a tortoise, lizards and other scaly creatures.
In addition to the traditional carnival rides and games, there were also bumper cars, a foam pool for children to play in, and giant plastic orbs that people could roll around inside.
“We don’t have all the numbers in, but I can say sales of food and beer are up over previous years,” said Tokar. “A lot of work goes into putting on these fests so it is great when it all works out. There were no problems at all to speak of. The police only had to break up a few fights and nothing got broken.”
Photo by Dermot Connolly
Circular bumper cars were among the newer and most popular attractions for people of all ages at RidgeFest this year.
“It’s a good kind of busy,” said Village Clerk Barb Harrison, who was running around on Sunday making sure things were going smoothly. She also said sales were up all around.
Any profits the village makes at the fest is donated back to local charities and non-profits, and some were there raising money themselves.
“It was the best one we have been a part of,” said Chicago Ridge Lions Club member Bill Lammel, who helped found the chapter a few years ago.
The Lions Club ran its most successful split-the-pot raffle over the weekend too.
“We topped our pot to split at over $5,000. In past years, we were slightly under $4,000. Four strong nights of consistent crowds really helped us out so we can help those in our community that are in need,” said Lammel.