It’s difficult for some of us to believe, but it has actually been 30 years since the summer when Oswego did not have a large-scale community celebration. Back in 1988 the old Oswego Days celebration that had been held annually for years on Main Street was canceled due to a lack of a sponsoring organization. Fortunately, the Oswegoland Park District stepped in as celebration organizers later that year and brought the celebration back in 1989 under the new name PrairieFest.
Over the past many years the fest under the park district’s direction has continued to grow and thrive while somehow maintaining its small town charm. Wander over to PrairieFest Park just south of Oswego High School this weekend and you and yours can enjoy many of the traditional fun events and activities that so many generations of area residents enjoyed when the celebration was known as Oswego Days. This year fest-goers will again be able to thrill to the carnival rides, check out the local business expo, enjoy plenty of live music, a classic car show, a huge Sunday afternoon parade in the village’s downtown, all manner of food and drinks and so much more.
One of the many things we’ve always liked about PrairieFest is that the park district annually enlists the support of an army of volunteers of all ages to help stage the festival. The volunteers do everything from direct traffic in the parking lots to manning various booths to tidying-up the festival grounds. In addition to their invaluable help, the volunteers’ presence gives the fest a nice hometown touch. It’s always fun to run into a next door neighbor or the neighbor’s teen manning a booth, directing parking lot traffic or helping to hand out water at the finish line of the fest’s 5K.
If you weren’t here for the summer of 1988, you should know that it felt like something was seriously missing when Oswego went without its annual festival. It was quiet--too quiet, in our opinion, for a growing community. The village most certainly missed its annual warm-weather community get together. Thanks to those park district officials back when and their successors who stepped up and saved and then grew PrairieFest, starting today thousands of area residents will again have the opportunity to celebrate the start of another summer in the Fox Valley. We will see you there!