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Mongo leaves fest after dust-up with trustee
By Harry Hitzeman | Daily Herald Staff

Steve McMichael

 

Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

Bill DiFulvio

 

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Published: 8/17/2009 5:13 PM

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Former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael abruptly left South Elgin's Riverfest over the weekend after a dust-up with a village trustee.

McMichael's agent and the president of the South Elgin Jaycees, who brought McMichael to the festival to sign autographs as part of a fundraiser for a haunted house, say the former all-pro left because of offensive and profane behavior by Trustee Bill DiFulvio.

The trustee, however, says he kept it clean and said McMichael insulted him. He added that the Jaycees poorly planned their fundraiser.

McMichael, a coach for the Chicago Slaughter Arena Football team, was positioned at the festival's craft fair, south of the State Street bridge, on Saturday where he was to sign autographs for $5 apiece.

But because there was more foot traffic north of the bridge near the carnival and music stage, the Jaycees moved him there.

DiFulvio, who heads a committee that plans Riverfest, told McMichael to move back to his appointed spot - and that's where the fireworks begin and the stories diverge.

Jaycees President Frank Tripoli said DiFulvio swore at and yelled at McMichael in front of McMichael's wife and 18-month-old daughter.

"(DiFulvio) was unbecoming of a village official," Tripoli said. "He should step down or something or at least do a formal apology."

McMichael's agent, Jamie Stalder, who also was at Riverfest, had the same impression.

"It was outlandish what that guy did. You almost couldn't believe what was going on," Stalder said. "The guy acted like he was the king of the world."

McMichael eventually left, even though police offered to let him set up an autograph station just outside the station.

Tripoli said the group hoped to raise about $2,200 but only made $100. Overall, it spent $450 on the event.

Stadler said McMichael agreed to do the fundraiser for a nominal fee because the Slaughter are sponsors for the Jaycees' haunted house.

Stadler said McMichael declined to comment.

DiFulvio said the Jaycees kept changing their plans in the months and weeks before the event. But one thing they did agree on was to have McMichael appear at the craft show area.

DiFulvio said organizers keep raffles, businesses and other fundraisers there so people at the carnival or watching bands aren't bothered by people handing out fliers.

DiFulvio said he politely told McMichael he needed to move and McMichael pulled him aside and said he was making the festival "a lot of money" and not to insult him in front of his fans.

"I didn't swear. I didn't use profanity," DiFulvio said. "I am sorry for the way it turned out. They (the South Elgin Jaycees) should apologize for not planning well. I asked him to leave. I didn't use any F-bombs."

South Elgin Village President Jim Hansen declined to comment Monday.

Police Chief Christopher Merritt said no arrests were made as a result of the incident but officers said McMichael and DiFulvio did "have words."