Coon Creek Country Days starts Thursday along State Street
Never get too cocky when planning a summer festival.
Offering carnival rides, fireworks and music year after year may seem like a good formula for a festival, but they could get old. Even if people keep coming back for three and a half decades, it could still get stale.
Planners of Hampshire's Coon Creek Country Days had this thought at last year's party and asked people how they could make a good thing -- one that's been going on for 35 years -- better.
When the festival starts Thursday, revelers who attend the four-day gala will see their suggestions at work.
"People told us they want more rides for older kids in the 11- to 15-year-old age range," said Carl Palmisano, president of the Coon Creek Country Days organizing committee. "They also told us they wanted more selections of beer."
Consider the recommendations done. There are more carnival rides to twirl and spin older kids while gentler rides will delight younger children.
As for the beer options, partygoers will have four choices instead of the usual two, Palmisano said. One of the options is a craft beer.
"People also told us they wanted the band Hi Infidelity back. We haven't booked them for a couple a years, but they will be back this year," he said.
The group performs 9 p.m. to midnight Friday.
The committee's marketing director, Sue Robinson, conducted a 12-question survey. She and her colleagues asked people how Hampshire's summer tradition can be improved. It already is one of the Fox Valley's better known festivals.
"People told us they also wanted parade prizes for the best floats. They also want a bigger fireworks show," she said.
Done and done.
The best floats in the parade that starts at noon Sunday will be rewarded, and music will accompany Saturday night's fireworks.
Another significant change is a new location. Bruce Ream Park is under reconstruction. Many of the events will be held along downtown's State Street, near Allen Road.
"The new location will give us better exposure," Palmisano said. "The park was good, but it was in a dead-end location. The new site is more easily accessible."
The survey and the new location are not aimed at attracting more people, he said. When Mother Nature shines her sun on Hampshire, Coon Creek Country Days can attract as many as 15,000 people during its run.
The survey allowed the revelers to have a say.
"This is a nice small-town festival," Palmisano said. "People know about us because we have a good reputation. The survey was not about attracting more people. It was about hearing what people had to say. We're starting to attract people from DuPage County. Committee members want to make sure we keep our small-town atmosphere."
Coon Creek Country Days is unique because many of the events, such as the corn boil and pony rides, are free.
"Our petting zoo is free. You don't have to pay $3 to get into our zoo just to pet an animal," he said.
People who answered last year's survey told committee members they appreciate free events because they don't have to spend a fortune to watch fireworks, listen to music or browse craft booths.
Coon Creek Country Days is funded with donation and sponsors. Committee members are not a part of village government. For 12 months, they plan, budget and decide what will remain from year to year.
A list of events is at hcccd.com.
35th Coon Creek Country DaysWhen: 6 to 10 p.m. Thursday; 6 p.m. to midnight Friday; 1 p.m. to midnight Saturday; 1 to 5 p.m. Sunday.
Where: On State Street, one-half block south of Allen Road, Hampshire.
Featuring: Food and crafter vendors, beer garden, carnival, pony rides, petting zoo, fireworks and a free corn boil on Sunday. Bands are Hi Infidelity, Modern Day Romeos, Young Guns, Geary Nelson and Rockin' Roads, Peach's Beach Party, 4th Point, Friday Jackson, Shindig and Stateline Band.
Highlights: Pony rides (Sunday) at Tower Hill Stables, 12N254 Tower Road; Lions Club pancake breakfast (Sunday) at Hampshire Middle School, 560 S. State St.; Coon Creek Classic (Sunday) at Hampshire Middle School; Grand Parade (Sunday) begins at Warner Street and Washington Avenue.
Admission: Free to the fairgrounds; $2 to enter beer garden.