Illuminated, twinkling...the Pavilion at Wolf Lake pulsated with the energy of a community wrapped in the glow of a summertime festival at dusk. Surrounded by tummy twirling rides and an endless array of food vendors, come early evening most visitors had turned toward the triangular stage, enveloped in the rhythmic performance of area band The Kinsey Report.
It's been a season of outdoor commemorations and jubilees and Wednesday night Hammond's Festival of the Lakes burst onto the summertime celebration scene, eager and effervescent. In its 11th year and far from waning, the annual festival is one of the region's most anticipated events. Offering delectables from nearby restaurants and eateries, carnival rides galore, and FREE entertainment, Northwest Indiana has proven once again that it is a hotspot for family oriented festivities.
A mixture of blues and reggae filled the air; legendary musician Jimmy Cliff raised his guitar and motioned to the audience, nodding with the beat. Children shouted above the soulful guitar chords, danced effortlessly in the grass, and grabbed at the sugary treats that their parents had gifted them.
Ed and Julie Michniewicz sat relaxing on their blanket.
"We haven't made it every year to the festival, but we come every once and awhile. We came to hear Jimmy Cliff tonight," Mr. Michniewicz. "It's good music - they've brought in big names."
Also slated for this year's entertainment are the Jimmy Starr Band, the country duo Big & Rich, local crowd pleasers The Craw Puppies, and participants of the Under the Sun Tour (Sugar Ray, Blues Traveler and Uncle Kracker), among others. But Festival of the Lakes isn't a mere music fest – it's much, much more!
As the five day festival marches on into the weekend, visitors and locals alike will be invited to take part in a myriad of activities: a Fishing Derby with prizes for the largest catch, child friendly entertainment from are groups such as Hammond's Academy for the Performing Arts and Michelle's Dance Center, a Hot Rod and Custom Bike Show, a toe-tapping Polka Party, and the Kathleen Pucalik Memorial 5K Run and Walk.
Like the thousands of area residents who poured into the park Wednesday evening, thousands more are expected to follow.
"Our 2013 event was a huge success," Hammond Mayor Thomas McDermott Jr. stated on the event's website. "Over 50,000 people participated in the activities highlighting Hammond's three lakes. This year promises to surpass last year, providing our great community another five days of summer fun. You'll be glad you came our for this fantastic event!"
*The Festival of the Lakes will run from July 16th - July 20th. Parking is $25. All entertainment is FREE of charge.
For more information about the festival, as well as a full schedule of events, please visit: http://www.festivalofthelakes.com/
To see more photos from the event, click here!
Silver Sponsors: Advantage Signs and Graphics, BP Amaco, Cargill, Country Financial/XRT, Dyer Construction Company, Inc., Hammond National Insurance, Hammond Park Foundation, Inc., JM Industrial, North Township Trustee Frank Mrvan, Patten Cat Power Systems Rental, Pepsi Beverage Co., Porter's Apparel, S.E.H., Tri-Electronics, Unilever, WJOB 1230 AM
Bronze Sponsors: Albert's Diamond Jewelers, Bellsom Electric, Calumet College of St. Joseph, Cintas the Uniform Porfessionals, Delaney Printing, Donahue Associates, Dover Chemical, Franciscan St. Margaret's Healthcare, First Midwest Bank, Hammond Optimist Club, Hammond City Port, Hammond Contractor's Group, Lang Ice, Mik Lurch Tackle Outlet, Munster Steel, Pangere Corp. Purdue University Calumet, Root Brothers, Ron Prestamer Agency, Strack and Van Til