Weather affects attendance, but not community spirit
by Melanie Jongsma
LANSING, Ill. (October 14, 2019) – If temperatures hadn’t been in the 70s for the four days prior to Autumn Fest 2019, the 50-degree, then 40-degree temps on Friday might have been easier to bear. But the transition from shirt-sleeves to parkas was just too sudden, and only the most hardy Lansing residents—and the parents of kids in the Memorial Junior High Band—and the most loyal fans of hometown hero Brian Grilli—came out for opening night.
With attendance so low, food and marketplace vendors struggled to sell enough goods to cover their booth rentals. Still, the general feeling among fest-goers was a mixture of pride, grit, and fun.
Friday, October 11
Grilli ended his show with the song that has endeared him to Lansing, “My Hometown”:
Saturday, October 12
The sun was crisp and bright enough on Saturday to draw increased attendance to Day 2 of Autumn Fest, though vendors again struggled—this time with winds that were strong enough to blow their tents over and twist the frames. The day began at 8:00am with a Copper Muggers Pancake Breakfast at the American Legion and continued until 11:00pm when Latin Satin Soul closed their three-hour performance.
Each year, Autumn Fest includes a Military Tribute that gives Lansing an opportunity to honor its veterans. Introducing the Military Tribute for Autumn Fest 2019, Jean McCall put Saturday’s cold weather in context:
The Lansing Veterans Memorial Ceremonial Honor Guard posted colors, and then TF South students Gary Hunley and Aija Sims sang the National Anthem. They were accompanied by Brian Grilli, who is himself a Navy veteran:
Brian Grilli explained his feelings toward the popular song “Proud to be an American” before asking Mike Sanow to join him in singing it:
At 2:00pm, Double Treble Dueling Pianos put on a concert in the pavilion:
Sunday, October 13
The weather improved again for Sunday, the final day of Autumn Fest 2019. The sun was warm, and though the winds were cold, they were not as brutal as the day before. Marketplace vendors opened for business at 10:00am, food vendors began selling at 11:00am, and the Kids Zone opened at 12:00pm.
Also at noon, Mariachi Estrellas de Chicago took the stage:
While the weather for Autumn Fest 2019 was unfortunate and definitely impacted attendance, the feeling was positive among attenders who braved the temperatures. In fact, Brian Grilli called it “one of the best trips I’ve had.” He posted a thank-you on Facebook that summarizes what a community celebration is all about:
I’ve gotten a little time to rest and reflect on my time in my hometown of Lansing, IL, and Chicago. I have to say it was one of the best trips I’ve had. My wife Kristen got to meet family and friends of mine for the first time as well as see the city and experience some things from my childhood. I want to thank Village of Lansing, Fox Pointe, The Lansing Journal, Boz Hot Dogs, Lansing Kilroys, Lansing Autumn Fest, Michael J. Sanow, Carol Koehler Bollacker, Jennifer Koch Polley, Melanie Jongsma, Jeff Schoettle, Scott Kintz, and all the volunteers and workers that made Autumn Fest a success!! It was colder than heck, and playing in 40 degrees is quite the experience! Thanks my family and friends and to all who came out and braved the cold Lanny Grilly, Lisa Nelson, David Grilly, Joseph Gatz, Gail Gatz Batinick, Irene Gatz, Lauren Roeda, Dawn Rucinski Graham, Carol Wojciehowski Angarola, Dan Dominiak, Kurt Von Tuttlingen, Rob Turtle Reich, Rodger Reich, and to the band that back me up who had a few days and no rehearsal and KILLED it…John Guerrini, Stephan A. Kohnke, Jerome Walker. Thank you for the love and hospitality!