Sterling Avenue, looking south, begins to fill with people early Saturday afternoon during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
Local News

Cozy Flossmoor Fest brings community closer together

The Adeyemo kids from Flossmoor enjoy a ride during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
The Adeyemo kids from Flossmoor enjoy a ride during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

Flossmoor Fest is about bringing the community together, and this year’s event on Saturday, Sept. 9, brought people together more closely than ever. The event had all the features the event always has. They were just arranged in a smaller space than usual in order to facilitate a new approach designed to keep the event safe and family-friendly.

In past years, some activities for kids were placed on the east side of the tracks in Flossmoor Park or west of downtown along Central Drive all the way to Leavitt Avenue. This year, the kids’ activities, which included a number of inflatable play areas, a spinning ride, mini-golf and a mobile game room, were placed in the commuter parking lot on the east side of Sterling Avenue.

The more compact layout allowed village officials to implement increased security. Access was allowed only through three gates that were monitored by security teams. Everyone entering the festival stopped for a brief check of bags. Backpacks and bicycles were not allowed inside the festival.

  • The Flossmoor Fest crowd fills Sterling Road in this view looking north. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    The Flossmoor Fest crowd fills Sterling Road in this view looking north. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson welcomes area residents to Flossmoor Fest. Behind her are, from left, Village Clerk Gina LoGalbo, County Commissioner Donna Miller, Flossmoor Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott and Fire Chief Bob Kopec. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson welcomes area residents to Flossmoor Fest. Behind her are, from left, Village Clerk Gina LoGalbo, County Commissioner Donna Miller, Flossmoor Trustee Joni Bradley-Scott and Fire Chief Bob Kopec. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • The Adeyemo kids from Flossmoor enjoy a ride during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    The Adeyemo kids from Flossmoor enjoy a ride during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Six of Spades leads off the live music lineup at Flosssmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Six of Spades leads off the live music lineup at Flosssmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Mike Cavalieri sings the nation anthem at the beginning of Flossmoor Fest 2023. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Mike Cavalieri sings the nation anthem at the beginning of Flossmoor Fest 2023. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Kids frolic on one of several inflatable play areas during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Kids frolic on one of several inflatable play areas during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Headline musical act The Friends Band takes the stage at 5 p.m. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Headline musical act The Friends Band takes the stage at 5 p.m. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson, right, gives Tom Dobrez a high five after congratulating him and the rest of the Flossmoor's Future team for organizing another successful Hidden Gem Half Marathon, which was run prior to Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson, right, gives Tom Dobrez a high five after congratulating him and the rest of the Flossmoor's Future team for organizing another successful Hidden Gem Half Marathon, which was run prior to Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Members of Raspberry Ca-beret sing during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Members of Raspberry Ca-beret sing during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Members of Raspberry Ca-beret sing during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Members of Raspberry Ca-beret sing during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • A member of Raspberry Ca-beret sings during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    A member of Raspberry Ca-beret sings during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Sterling Avenue, looking south, begins to fill with people early Saturday afternoon during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Sterling Avenue, looking south, begins to fill with people early Saturday afternoon during Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson with a mini-golf game she built for the Foundation for the Preservation of Flossmoor History booth at Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Flossmoor Mayor Michelle Nelson with a mini-golf game she built for the Foundation for the Preservation of Flossmoor History booth at Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • The artwork on Michelle Nelson's mini-golf game represents Flossmoor scenes. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    The artwork on Michelle Nelson's mini-golf game represents Flossmoor scenes. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • The H-F Marching Band helps kick off Flossmoor Fest on Saturday, Sept. 9. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    The H-F Marching Band helps kick off Flossmoor Fest on Saturday, Sept. 9. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Sousaphone reflections during the H-F Marching Band performance. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
    Sousaphone reflections during the H-F Marching Band performance. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)
  • Phillipa Leon-Thompson, chair of the Flossmoor Community Relations Commission, welcomes people to Flossmoor Fest. (Eric Crump/H-F Chronicle)

The festival started at 11 a.m. following the Hidden Gem Half Marathon. Late in the afternoon, Flossmoor Fire Chief Bob Kopec said the security arrangements seemed to be working well, with almost no lines. He said patrons seemed to appreciate the new focus on security.

At the Sept. 5 meeting, the Board of Trustees approved a new Youth Supervision Policy and Code of Conduct governing behavior at the festival.

Adults at the festival who were willing to share comments with the Chronicle were supportive of the new approach.

Flossmoor resident Ayana Kwaza said she had heard about teen disruptions at previous events and was glad to see steps taken to prevent problems.

“I love it,” she said.

A Homewood couple said they were fine with the security plan.

“It’s not a big deal. I understand why they did it,” Jamilah Brown said, noting that the process went smoothly. 

“I’m kind of glad they did it,” Mike Brown said. “I feel safer. It’s a different world now.” 
He said the process was similar to what’s common a big concerts these days, and he also appreciated the visible police presence in the crowd.

Michelle Zuniga of Aurora was at her first Flossmoor Fest with her granddaughter, Audri. The two mimicked the face-upturned pose of “Child,” the sculpture in the traffic island, to get their photo taken. 

Zuniga said she admired the downtown architecture and was enjoying the festival. The security arrangements were fine with her.

“It was very easy,” she said. “It made me feel safer.”

Aside from the security and the cozier arrangement, the festival was much the same as in past years. 

Mayor Michelle Nelson said she wasn’t sure how residents would respond to the changes, but she thought people were pleased.

“They appreciated the efforts we took to create a safe and family friend environment, and once you got in the fest you really didn’t feel those added safety precautions,” she said. “It felt like a normal Flossmoor Fest.”

Local businesses and organzations had booths lining Sterling Avenue. There were food trucks in addition to food service by the three downtown restaurants, Flossmoor Station, Dunning’s Market and the Bistro on Sterling. 

Tony and Chogi Fields of Conservatory Vintage and Vinyl provided recorded music before the festivities got under way. Concert baritone Mike Cavalieri sang the national anthem.

The event started with introductions and thanks to sponsors by the mayor, who was joined on stage by Flossmoor trustees George Lofton, Rosalind Mustafa and Joni Bradley-Scott; Village Clerk Gina LoGalbo; Village Manager Bridget Wachtel; Village Attorney Kathleen Orr; Fire Chief Bob Kopec; Police Chief Jerel Jones; state Rep. Will Davis; County Commissioner Donna Miller; and Judge John Fairman. 

Following the introductions, the Homewood-Flossmoor High School Marching Band performed while arrayed around the traffic island. The band was followed by the Jesse White Tumblers.

Live music was provided by Six of Spades, Raspberry Ca-beret and The Friends Band. 

The other change in the event’s tradition was an earlier end time. The festival used to go until 10 p.m., but this year, the village planned to close the festival at 7 p.m.

The early close allowed cleanup to begin sooner, Sterling Avenue could open sooner, and the village could save some overtime costs. 

Nelson said she was concerned some people would be disappointed by the change, but she heard positive feedback from residents.

“It was part of the plan,” she said. “It was already such a full day. Everybody had already had so much fun and packed so much into one day that ending it at 7 p.m. made sense.” 

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