Vernon Hills cancels Summer Celebration, July 4 parade, shifts to RibFest, fireworks
The hope of holding big summer events in Vernon Hills has fallen short, as two highly attended attractions have been canceled for a second consecutive year due to concerns involving the coronavirus.
Given recent trends involving the number of infections and difficulty in enforcing state rules on large crowds, the village again has nixed the annual Summer Celebration festival and the Fourth of July parade.
"This is the one we've been weighing very, very carefully and watching as best we can," said Village Manager Mark Fleischhauer. "In all good conscience, we cannot recommend that Summer Celebration go on as planned."
The multiday event held in mid-July at Century Park features national music acts and is one of the best-attended summer festivals in Lake County.
Fleischhauer said the state will be reviewing outdoor events on a case-by-case basis and a liquor license wouldn't be granted unless the village could monitor and control crowds, and possibly take other measures like temperature checks.
"With an event like Summer Celebration, you know how hard it will be to try and control access to Century Park," Fleischhauer told the village board Tuesday.
As an alternative, the village will provide financial support to the Vernon Hills Park District for its blues-themed RibFest scheduled for later in August.
That's also held in Century Park. But the bands are local, tickets are sold and the area is fenced, making it easier to monitor mitigation standards, Fleischhauer said.
Village participation could make RibFest "a little bigger, a little better," he said.
The Fourth of July parade is another matter.
"It's just too difficult to control the vast volumes of people. Everyone who has been there knows people are shoulder to shoulder, they're from the curb to the back of the sidewalk," Fleischhauer said.
"There's no way to control social distancing or even enforce a mask policy if we wish to do so," he said.
However, the traditional Fourth of July fireworks show at Century Park will be proceed, just without additional entertainment. As usual, fireworks will be shot from an island in the park, which will allow ample space for spectators, Fleischhauer said.
A fireworks show has been an element of Summer Celebration. Instead, it will be shifted to RibFest, and if RibFest can't be held, the fireworks will be delayed to New Year's Eve.
One activity patrons will be able to enjoy is the Arbortheater Summer Concert series, which will proceed as planned.
"Those are lightly attended," Fleischhauer said. "People are able to space out on the grass and there shouldn't be a risk of infection there."