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PrairieFest: A Father's Day Weekend Extravaganza in Beautiful and Historical Oswego

Found roughly 50 miles west of Chicago, Oswego’s natural beauty and historic downtown make it an ideal destination when planning an Illinois getaway. With preserved and restored buildings dating back to the mid 19th Century, the downtown area is a must for all visitors. Here attendees will encounter boutique shops and restaurants, plus, regional attractions like the Little White School Museum and Hudson Crossing Park. Travelers in search of outdoor activities and natural vistas are in the right place. The city is home to more than 60 parks including the Oswegoland Park District which features more than 1,100 lush acres perfect for hiking, biking, and more.


PrairieFest has been a go-to event for all ages since it began three decades ago, and it will take place June 14-17, 2018, at PrairieFest Park. This free to attend extravaganza features a spectrum of live performances, carnival loaded with games and activities, vibrant parade with floats and entertainment, and more. Each day of the event presents attendees with a variety of live music performances to enjoy, and some of this year's headliners include Blood Sweat and Tears, Sugar Ray, and Keith Anderson. Those looking for interactive fun should make their way to the carnival which features rides and hands-on activities for all ages. This year’s parade promises to be bigger and better than ever with vibrant floats made by community groups and live performances by local marching bands. Food lovers will instantly fall in love with the events selection of foods, in fact, the cuisine of PrairieFest has been featured on Food Network and The Cooking Channel. At the Expo Village, attendees can purchase art and handmade goods, as well as learn about many local organizations and causes. For a full breakdown of what the event has to offer to visit the event’s schedule page. interviewed Special Events Supervisor, Kristie Vest to learn more about this vibrant community celebration.


RAL: How long has the event been running?

KV: In 2018, PrairieFest celebrates 30 years as a community festival.


RAL: How many annual attendees do you draw?

KV: We see over 75,000 over Father’s Day Weekend.


RAL: What demographic does your event attract? Children? Families? Couples?

KV: I’ve always loved PrairieFest’s wide-reaching appeal. The festival is an excellent opportunity for every age group.


RAL: What makes this event unique?

KV: With free parking, free admission, and free concerts, PrairieFest is a prominent, beautiful place to play for four days. PrairieFest has been a charming festival for three decades because while our crowds have grown, the Oswego’s feeling of Home Sweet Home continues.


RAL: Take me through a day at the event. What can I expect as an attendee?

KV: Throughout the day, we have fee-free petting zoos, touch a trucks, gymnastic obstacle courses, archery games, face painting, pony rides, and concerts. There is a carnival, a parade, a 5K race, and a dog jog. We open the festival with two hours of a modified carnival for our families and friends with special needs on Thursday, June 14. There are pet rescue fairs, CPR training, blood banks, all great things that further define the community aspect of the festival.  


RAL: What dining options will attendees encounter?

KV: We are quite proud of the PrairieFest food lineup which has been featured on The Cooking Channel in 2015 and The Food Network in 2016. You can find fried cheese curds straight from Wisconsin, Roasted Corn on the Cob, Alligator on a Stick, and the best Cinnamon Rolls on the planet.


RAL: Tell us about the overall atmosphere?

KV: Forget the mouse. When I walk around PrairieFest, I see the happiest place on earth!


RAL: What can an attendee expect to find for local lodging?

KV: We have several hotels in the area, all ready to continue the PrairieFest feeling once your day is over. Tom and Anita deliver an excellent breakfast after a good night’s sleep over at Holiday Inn Express. Angel from AmericInn is also ready to accommodate festival-goers. We’re people who know each other’s names, and we’d like to learn yours!


RAL: Does this drive business to your local economy?

KV: We have free parking, admission, and concerts because of the generous support of our local businesses. I learned early that it also takes a village to raise a festival! Many festival-goers come for PrairieFest and find that community spirit in the many stores, restaurants, and activities they visit over the weekend.


RAL: Does the event support a particular cause in the community?

KV: PrairieFest is a festival hosted by the Oswegoland Park District. Any proceeds further their mission to create the open spaces and happy opportunities for a healthier community.


RAL: Why should people come to your event?

KV: It might seem like a festival from times past, but PrairieFest has successfully taken the ideals of a small community festival and transferred them into an exciting regional draw. With national bands like Blood, Sweat, and Tears, Bo Bice, Mark McGrath and Sugar Ray, and country singer Keith Anderson, travelers are drawn to the entertainment, but enjoy themselves because of the big open spaces, the sense of community, and the friendly spirit that makes PrairieFest a tradition.

For more information about PrairieFest, please visit the event website.