By Marney Simon | Enterprise Staff
It’s carnival time!
For the 36th year, Plainfield Fest is gearing up to treat locals to rides, food, and entertainment. The fest rolls into town July 14-16.
But, things will look decidedly different in 2017.
This year, the carnival is moving out of the crowded streets of historic downtown, taking up home at the north parking lot at Plainfield Central High School.
“Fox River Street will be the direct connect to the downtown area, and then back to the high school,” said Rob Epley, Executive Director of the Plainfield Riverfront Foundation, the organizers of the annual event. “It’s going to be bigger and better, bigger bands, better food. Bud Light stepped up to be a tremendous sponsor for us this year. The carnival has doubled in size.”
Epley said the ever-growing size of the carnival – 15,000 people last year and that many or more expected in 2017 – was what prompted the move of rides from Lockport Street to the high school.
“It will be a good test for us, utilizing Plainfield Central for the carnival,” Epley said.
The plans for the location of part of this year’s fest were just firmed up over the past two weeks. Epley said that while the Riverfront Foundation was hoping to move part of the festival to the riverfront property this year, with the ongoing gas line relocation, it just wasn’t meant to be.
“We’ve been challenged with the Nicor project,” Epley said. “Safety became an issue. We were looking for utilizing the riverfront property this year, along with relocating the carnival and then having some vendors and crafters fill in between. With the Nicor project going on, the property… is just unsafe at this point.”
For this year, the beer tent and entertainment stage will remain in the fest’s past location, along Lockport and Des Plaines Streets.
“We know the downtown works,” Epley said. “It’s been a plan that has worked, it’s been very accepted by the downtown businesses and the residents. So, we’re going to continue to utilize that for the beer tent and the entertainment tent, as well as the vendors and crafters.”
Golf cart shuttle service will be available to transport visitors between the carnival area to downtown.
The Riverfront Foundation will work toward utilizing the riverfront next year, if possible.
“We want to get it all to the riverfront, and hopefully use that property going forward,” Epley said.
Epley noted that the future of the festival along the riverfront looks bright, not just for the fest itself, but for the village.
“It will highlight the riverfront property, which we’ve always said is a hidden gem here in Plainfield,” Epley said. “We look at this as an economic driver to the downtown. When you bring that many people in and you’re highlighting your downtown and your businesses, the opportunities are there not just for businesses or to shop, but potentially for someone to say they want to call Plainfield home. So, we always try to highlight the businesses, the downtown, and the surrounding areas and for Will County, and to create a destination.”
Plainfield Fest was taken over by the Riverfront Foundation seven years ago.
The fest concludes on Sunday with the annual Midwest Bags tournament.
Epley noted that the fest is only possible thanks to the help and support of all the sponsors.
More information on Plainfield Fest 2017 can be found online at plainfieldfest.org.