Clarissa Mrowka, 12, of Woodstock loves to perform country music, but increasingly she is finding a bigger demand for a spinoff act she debuted in the spring: her Hannah Montana tribute show.
What started with one track on her CD, blossomed into a full one-hour act devoted entirely to Montana's hits, which premiered at the grand opening in March of the Keylime Cove Water Resort in Gurnee, and where she continues to perform the show every month.
"It's become a really big hit," says Clarissa, who just finished up sixth grade. "Country's still my favorite, but it's fun to do Hannah, since I'm a kid, and she's a kid."
Clarissa and her Hannah Montana Tribute Show will headline the main stage at 5 p.m. June 22 at the 31st annual Country Fair in Schaumburg.
The five-day festival opens at 6 p.m. Wednesday and runs through 10 p.m. June 22, all on the grounds of the Church of the Holy Spirit, 1451 W. Bode Road. Admission is free, though there is a charge for the carnival rides and food.
Besides Clarissa, some of the other main stage acts include the Schaumburg High School jazz band, which opens at 6 p.m. June 19, as well as the local, Sham Rock 'n Irish Band at 6 p.m. Saturday June 21.
The popular band, 7th Heaven, which played Schaumburg's Septemberfest last year, follows, at 8 p.m. on June 21.
There are different family activities packed into each day, including Bingo, children's games, and raffles, as well as a food tent stocked with ethnic specialties - including Hispanic, Filipino, and American - made by parishioners.
Back in the 1970s, the Rev. George Kane, founding pastor of the church, pitched the idea of organizing the fair, as an outreach into the community.
Consequently, what started out in 1977 as a two-day fair, now has grown into a Northwest suburban festival that can draw as many as 10,000 people over its five-day run, organizers say, with another 300 volunteers working to mount it.
"It's our largest fundraiser, and it really brings the parish together," says Tom Evon of Schaumburg, who is co-chairing the event with Kathy Atwell, Ramon Correa, and Frank Kozak, all of Schaumburg, as well as Madeline Navarra of Streamwood and Tony Varchetto of Hoffman Estates.
Despite its growth, Evon says, the festival still retains its "country fair" feel, with parishioners working together to coordinate the event, and the traditional outdoor Mass taking place at noon on Sunday.
"It's a great family time, with free entertainment and concerts," Evon says. "It's all about getting people together, more than it is about making money."
If you go
What: 31st annual Country Fair
When: Wednesday through June 22
Hours: 6-10:30 p.m. Wednesday and June 19, 6-11:30 p.m. June 20; 4:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. June 21, and noon to 10 p.m. June 22
Where: Church of the Holy Spirit, 1451 W. Bode Road in Schaumburg
Cost: Free admission; charges for rides and food
Call: (847) 882-7580 or visit www.churchoftheholyspirit.org