Thousands enjoy sunshine, music, games, and community at Autumn Fest 2021

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Perfect autumn weather confirms LACE decision to move event to September

by Melanie Jongsma

LANSING, Ill. (September 26, 2021) – After cold rain in 2019 and a COVID cancellation in 2020, vendors and visitors alike were grateful for sunshine and blue skies during this year’s three-day Autumn Fest. While gusty winds were an issue when the fest opened at 4:00pm on Friday, September 24, crowds filled the main lawn and the pavilion for much of the evening. Saturday’s sun and Sunday’s high-70s temps brought guests from Lansing and the surrounding community — some first-timers, some annual attendees. By the time the fest grounds closed at 5:00pm Sunday, the tally of Autumn Fest guests was in the thousands.

Autumn Fest 2021
Autumn Fest 2021 was officially opened with a ribbon cutting by members of LACE (Lansing Association for Community Events). From left: Dan Centracchio, Michelle Tymorek-Winters, Pat Leck, Jean McCall, Cameron Harvey, Leo Valencia, Debbie Waitekus, Karen Kijewski, and Jake Gourley. (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Autumn Fest 2021
Cheryl Widstrand Hyzy (left) and Chris Zaklan were first in line outside the main entrance gates on Friday afternoon. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Vendors like Taqueria La Soga remember how difficult 2019’s Autumn Fest was, with rain, cold, and wind all three days. Autumn Fest 2021 was much more temperate, and therefore more profitable. Ximena Muñoz, daughter of owners Martha and Giblerto, was at her station Friday night, ready to sell tacos to hungry Autumn Fest-goers. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Fest fare included local establishments (Ace Catering, Boz Hot Dogs, Legion Riders, Taqueria La Soga) as well as out-of-town eateries (Izzy’s, I-94 Ribs & Grill, Skyline Snowie, Von Vittles, Withers Concessions). Food trucks were open all three days of the fest. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Autumn Fest 2021
LACE volunteer Susan Bovino helped sell drink tickets on Friday evening. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Autumn Fest 2021
Little Giant was the first band to take the stage for Autumn Fest 2021. (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Autumn Fest 2021
Though the forecast threatened thunderstorms Friday night, those threats did not dissuade fest-goers from filling the lawn and enjoying the concerts. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
The pavilion provided another area for sitting and socializing. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Autumn Fest 2021
Gone 2 Paradise performed Jimmy Buffet favorites and managed to finish their set before rainfall. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)

Saturday at Autumn Fest 2021

Day 2 of Autumn Fest 2021 began at the American Legion, where Lansing’s Copper Muggers flipped pancakes to benefit veterans and first responders. The honors continued with an 11:30am Military Tribute, consisting of a presentation of names and photos of Lansing veterans. Organizer Jean McCall had gathered most of the photos in preparation for the 2019 presentation, and she said she was able to add about 30 more veterans this year.

Of special note at the pancake breakfast was the gift of 40 free breakfasts by 13-year-old Lansing resident Jasmine Arnold. Since 2018, Jasmine’s family has been acting as the agent of a mysterious anonymous do-gooder who sends them resources and instructions for the good deeds he wants them to do. (See Random Acts of Kindness in Lansing, a November 2020 article.) The assignments started with Jasmine’s mom, Jen Arnold, but Jen soon began involving her kids. In June, Jasmine received $200 from the mystery benefactor, and she decided, “I wanna help veterans.” She consulted with veterans advocate Maureen Grady-Perovich, and after some discussion Jasmine used the money to purchase 40 pancake breakfast tickets for veterans or first responders.

“I wanna help veterans,” said Jasmine Arnold, who received $200 from a mysterious benefactor and used it to buy 40 tickers for the Copper Muggers Pancake Breakfast honoring veterans and first responders. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
A sign was posted to thank Jasmine as well as her “Guardian Angel.” (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Later in the morning, on the Fox Pointe stage, Jean McCall presented a slideshow of Lansing veterans. She has been gathering names and photos through word-of-mouth for the pas two years, and she will continue to add veterans as she learns about them. (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Saturday at Autumn Fest 2021 also saw the Marketplace open from 10:00am through 7:00pm. (Photo: Melanie Jongsma)
Autumn Fest 2021
The Kids Zone opened on Saturday and Sunday. (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Autumn Fest 2021
An autumn-themed photo booth gave families an opportunity to create an Autumn Fest 2021 keepsake. (Photo: Dan Bovino)

Musical entertainment on Saturday included Knievel Duo in the pavilion, Rockology Chicago on stage at 5:00pm, and Together Band on stage at 8:00pm.

Autumn Fest 2021 closing day

Autumn Fest re-opened Sunday morning at 10:00am, and business owners in the Marketplace began selling wares. The Kids Zone opened at noon, as did the first on-stage entertainment — students from Visible Music college. At 2:00pm, Cowboy Jukebox took the stage as the last concert of Autumn Fest 2021.

Autumn Fest 2021
Cowboy Jukebox was the last musical performance of Autumn Fest 2021. (Photo: Dan Bovino)
Selecting the winner of the Pumpkin Raffle was one of the highlights of Sunday at the fest. (Photo: Dan Bovino>

This is the first year that Autumn Fest has been held in September, and LACE Director Debbie Waitekus had expressed hope that the move would improve the chances of good weather for the outdoor fest. With Friday, Saturday, and Sunday all turning out sunny and pleasant, LACE was pleased with their decision — as were, apparently, the thousands of guests who attended Autumn Fest 2021.

Fox Pointe is located at 18138 Henry Street in Lansing, Illinois.

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