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Micky Dolenz to headline West Chicago's Railroad Days
By Jack Komperda | Daily Herald Staff

Carnival rides again will be a staple of the four-day Railroad Days Festival going on this weekend at Reed-Keppler Park in West Chicago.

 

Daily Herald file photo

Several West Chicago kids get wild on a ride called "Pharaohs Fury" during the opening night of what is now Railroad Days.

 

Ed Lee | 2006

Krissy Fosterud of Palatine hits the ball during a game of mud volleyball two years ago at Reed-Keppler Park. The West Chicago Park District will host its 22nd annual mud volleyball tournament on Saturday.

 

Paul Michna | 2007

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Published: 7/10/2008 12:12 AM

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The calls started coming weeks ago at the West Chicago Chamber of Commerce offices.

And the questions were all the same: When is Micky Dolenz coming?

"To be honest with you, we thought Molly Hatchet would be the biggest draw this year," said Wayne Lofton Jr., an assistant events coordinator for West Chicago's annual Railroad Days festival, which is set to begin today. "But we had calls just this week from Milwaukee and Minnesota."

Dolenz, the crazy, mop-topped member of The Monkees, is expected to be the biggest draw of this year's four-day festival, which is returning to Reed-Keppler Park.

A carnival, demonstrations, games, fireworks, fine arts, a mud volleyball tournament and a 7,000-square-foot beer garden tent are among the features of this year's fest. Dozens of food vendors, many of them from West Chicago, will be on hand.

The chamber has again lined up a list of heavy-hitting local and national music acts. In addition to Dolenz, who will take the main stage at 8 p.m. on Saturday, southern rock band Molly Hatchet will perform at 9:30 p.m. Friday.

"When the chamber took over running the fest last year, our plan was to increase the entertainment budget," Lofton said. "We thought, 'Let's get the top-drawer people.'"

Festival goers will be able to take short balloon rides with a full view of the festival grounds at 6:30 p.m. Friday. Last year, the proceeds went to the Northwest DuPage Walk-in Ministries, which provides help to the needy. Lofton said this year's proceeds will similarly go to a local charity.

The music entertainment will take place on two stages. Lofton said local bands will get a chance to perform throughout the weekend.

"We wanted to give incentives to kids who want to play in a city festival," he said. "Performing here is like a rock concert to them."

Saturday begins with the West Chicago Park District's 22nd annual mud volleyball tournament at 9 a.m.

From 9:30 to 11:30 a.m., some rides will be open at no charge to families with children who have special needs. At noon, the carnival will open to everyone.

The mud volleyball tournament will kick off again at 9 a.m. Sunday, giving participants plenty of time to clean off before the annual Railroad Days parade.

The procession steps off at 1 p.m. at the intersection of Elmwood Street and Ingalton Avenue.

"There's plenty this year to keep everyone entertained," Lofton said.

For more information, visit www.westchicagochamber.com or call the chamber at (630) 231-3003.

Railroad Days

The festival runs today through Sunday at Reed-Keppler Park, 250 E. National St. in West Chicago. Admission is free. Call (630) 231-3003 or visit www.westchicagochamber.com

THURSDAY

4:30 p.m. Festival grounds open

5 p.m. Carnival rides and beer garden open

5:45 p.m. Mighty Joe

7 p.m. Sacred Dawn

8:10 p.m. Groove Ethics

9 p.m. Karen Hart Band

FRIDAY

4:30 p.m. Festival grounds open

5 p.m. Carnival rides and beer garden open

5:30 p.m. Tethered balloon rides; Social Wreck

7 p.m. 7th Heaven

8:30 p.m. Dark Horse

9:30 p.m. Molly Hatchet

SATURDAY

9 a.m. West Chicago Park District's 22nd annual mud volleyball tournament begins

9:30 a.m. Free carnival rides for special needs children

12 p.m. Carnival rides open to public; Art in the Park begins

1 p.m. Fire safety house

3 p.m. Business Casual

4 p.m. Beer garden opens

5 p.m. Ragtops

6:45 p.m. Pearl Road

8 p.m. Micky Dolenz

9:15 p.m. 3XO

9:45 p.m. Fireworks

10:15 p.m. Down/Pour (AC/DC tribute band)

SUNDAY

9 a.m. West Chicago Park District's 22nd annual mud volleyball tournament begins

1 p.m. Railroad Days parade kicks off

3 p.m. Carnival rides, Art in the Park and beer garden open

3:30 p.m. John Keeney and the Late Risers

4:45 p.m. Jim Guter's Music

6 p.m. R-Gang

8:30 p.m. Band-A-Rika