It’s rare to say that an event was almost ruined by great weather. Okay, ruined might be a strong word here, but flannel and 74-degree weather are two things that don’t typically go well together. Of course, through all of the contingency planning that must go into a large, outdoor event in October, unbelievably great weather is probably the last thing that gets planned for.
Rumor is, they had event t-shirts printed for the event staff just before the event when they determined that the heavy-duty flannel event shirts were going to be unbearable to wear all day.
Of course, if that was the biggest event challenge to crop up, I don’t think anyone was complaining. If you didn’t have the pleasure of making it to the Crystal Lake Park District‘s Flannel Fest, then grab a beverage and sit back to see what you missed.
Out of 1,200 photos and a painstaking photo-culling process, here are just over 60 to encapsulate the day.
Address: 300 Lakeshore Dr, Crystal Lake, IL 60014
Artisan Market & Family Fun
Immediately inside the gates at Main Beach was the Flannel Fest Artisan Market, featuring various vendors selling their crafts and wares. Josh Skaja performed for everyone as they entered into the picnic grounds where the games and shows were held.
The entertainment and shows alone might have been enough to make this a compelling event. The assortment of games and other fun activities, especially for the kids, really put it over the top. From throwing flapjacks, squash, and TP, to crossing a rope bridge, or swinging on a log swing, they really went out of their way to make sure that even the youngest attendees had fun.
And for those wanting to get in on the action, Axe Legends was there to offer up axe throwing, and a double bucksaw was set up to get a feel for what it’s really like to saw a log.
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A Cast of Interesting Characters
While the lumberjack show might have received top billing, it wasn’t the only entertainment. Three other shows had casts of interesting characters.
The Birds of Prey Raptor Show gave the audience a fairly close-up view of owls and a falcon. Needless to say, the kids lined the front row, but there were also plenty of adults who looked pretty interested as well. It even came with some entertaining education!
Speaking of interesting characters, Joe Cicero briefly joined Tina Bree, both from Star 105.5, up on stage before Tina kicked off the Cheeky Jones Soap Best Beard and Mustache Contests. Of course, the real characters there were the contestants.
While the mustache competition only had one entrant, he might have been pretty tough competition anyway, especially if showmanship was included. Next up was the beard competition, which had no shortage of entrants. Ultimately, after deliberations, the judges came back with a winner for Best Beard as well as a winner for Longest Beard.
Fortunately, none of the beard contestants were involved in the next contest…three pie-eating contests. Decked out in clear rain ponchos, these contestants were fearless…and a few have probably sworn off dessert for a day or two.
Just Another Day at the Beach?!
In between shows, many used this opportunity to grab some food, enjoy the unseasonably amazing weather on the beach, or continue to join in some of the games and side entertainment.
Once the band shell was cleaned up after the pie-eating contests, Third Coast Bluegrass took the stage to entertain everyone before the final lumberjacks show.
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Timberworks Lumberjacks Show
The main attraction of course was three shows by the Timberworks Lumberjacks Show, all the way down from up-north-der in Hayward, Wisconsin. With an announcer/storyteller and just two lumberjacks, it’s pretty impressive that three people could provide this much riveting entertainment.
The show was performed three times over the course of Flannel Fest, and even though much of it, outside the competition parts anyway, was scripted, it was still entertaining the second and even third time around.
The show was primarily centered around the competition events between the two lumberjacks, starting out with some “old school” lumberjacking skills like the single bucksaw, underhand chop, axe throwing, and the obstacle pole relay race.
The relay race brought the lumberjacks out front and center with the audience and involved multiple tasks harkening back to the early days.
But that was quickly offset by the hot saw competition, which utilized modified chain saws to cut through logs like a hot knife through butter.
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Part of what makes a good show like this is audience involvement. In addition to dividing up the audience to cheer on their lumberjack, they also had fun speed-carving, what would eventually be, a small chair for a child chosen from the audience.
The speed climb took the entertainment to new heights before wrapping it all up with the final show-stopping event, which ironically, required no stopping at all.
The logrolling event had audience members on the edges of their seats, or perhaps on their tippy-toes to see. While unseasonably warm, I bet that water was still a bit chilly, though perhaps a bit refreshing after the other events.
The lumberjacks closed out the show by signing some souvenir autographs and chatting with future lumberjacks.
Hats off to the Crystal Lake Park District for a truly amazing day. Whether or not this becomes an annual event may remain to be seen. This year’s event definitely benefitted from the weather and a cold, wet weekend would have certainly ended up with a much different turnout.
This event was more than a year in the making and it showed. Of course, no event is perfect, especially the first time it is done, especially an open area type event that involves heavy crowd flow. But Flannel Fest was clearly a well-thought-out, well-planned event that the CLPD team deserves great praise for.
Now if only they could guarantee great weather like that every October!