The 41st annual Gurnee Days celebration last weekend was “Lil bit Country, Lil bit Rock’n Roll” and a whole lot of fun that featured a Gurnee Idol contest, amusement rides, movies in the park, a parade, an art show, tours of the historical Rudd House, and a rib-eating contest.
“We come every year,” said Marge Paulsen of Waukegan, who was there with her son Aiden, 10.
“We used to live in Gurnee and then we moved to unincorporated Waukegan,” she explained.
They always try to make the Thursday night concert. “He (Aiden) likes the amusement park and, of course, we like the ribs,” said Paulsen.
Michael Jaroscak, 35, of Lindenhurst, was attending RibFest on Saturday for the first time. This is the 12th year The Exchange Club of Gurnee has hosted the saucy, meaty festival.
“This is my first time here and I came specifically for the ribs,” he said with a plate full in front of him and some roasted corn to go with it.
There was silence as he chowed down on the second rib. “They’re amazing. They’re amazing,” he said.
“I want to go back up there and ask them what they did,” he said. “They did a great job.”
He also had no idea there were games, carnival rides, and face-painting and balloon art for the kids.
“I’ve got a 2-year-old at home and I’m going to bring her back so she can play games and go on the rides,” he said.
On Friday night, the newest Gurnee Idol was crowned for best singing performance and it went to Holly Beemer, 14, of Gurnee.
“There was a lot of competition and I was just thankful to be there and having a very good time,” she said.
Waiting for the announcement was tough, “I was just hoping for the best,” said Beemer, who sang Etta James’ “At Last,” that wowed the judges.
She has competed before at the Lake County Fair in the Junior Division and plans to compete again next year,. She also placed second in the Antioch Idol contest last year. Beemer isn’t sure if she will make singing her profession.
“Maybe, but I don’t know yet,” she said. Her father David was very proud and from the vantage point of sitting in the crowd and watching them react to his daughter, he was pretty sure she was going win.
“I was impressed because there were a lot of good singers there,” he said.
“It was gratifying,” he said, and he might as well of been talking about Gurnee Days in general.
GURNEE DAYS PARADE WINNERS
Best Marching Unit: Warren High marching band
Best Children’s Unit: Woodland Area Cub scouts
Best Commercial Float: Honey Orthodontics
Best Use of Theme Float: Studio One Salon
Best Overall Unit: Adventure Guides and Princesses