Rain douses Highland’s inaugural Labor Day Fest
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent August 30, 2014 10:30PM
Larry Crane (American Legion Post 180) pours a beer in the Beer Garden, the first time that Highland is allowing beer sales in the park on August 30, 2014. | Jim Karczewski/for Sun-Times Media
Updated: August 31, 2014 2:01AM
HIGHLAND — Austin Guerra happily chomped on his ear of corn, basking in the joy of the day.
A member of Highland’s cross county team, which placed second at the Hammond High Invitational earlier Saturday, Austin, 16, with pals Sam Pizzuto and Liam Curran, both 15, reveled in his team’s showing while taking in one of summer’s last festivals, the town’s inaugural Labor Day Fest in Main Square Park. Doing well makes everything more tasty, anyway.
“I really wanted corn,” Austin said as his pals watched bemused. “And anyway, my dad (John Guerra, also of Highland) was at the Notre Dame game with his brothers for a bachelor party.”
Fests may look pretty much the same by the end of the season, but that didn’t matter to the boys. The music, food, rides and ambience will never get old for them.
“Oh, we’ll find some more fests before winter,” Austin said.
Kelly Bridges, president of the town’s Council of Community Events, was disappointed in the storms Saturday evening and said it was definitely a hindrance to the festival, which boasts its first beer garden ever on park property. She and the council also knew that Rock ’n’ Rails was in full swing over in Griffith, which, as an established festival, has a track record.
Bridges isn’t worried, however. Unlike Rock ’n’ Rails, Highland’s festival will still be going strong Monday, while the Griffith event ends Sunday.
“I think we’ll do fine for our first fest,” Bridges said, still damp from the downpour. “We’re starting to pick up now. People have probably seen who they want in Griffith and are now coming here.”
Bridges said she and the council couldn’t have done the beer garden without the help of Park Superintendent Alex Brown, parks employee Bob Knight and Highland Fire Chief Bill Timmer for its setup. She said the beer garden has been well received so far.
“It’s not too big and not too small, and people can watch the bands while sitting back and having a beer,” she said.
Next year, they might make it a little bigger and position it a bit different, Bridges said. The event may also not be Labor Day weekend, but it will close out the summer.
The town’s previous festival, The Midwest Zest Fest, was discontinued by the Highland Chamber of Commerce so it can focus on other opportunities, Bridges said.