Oswegoland Park District officials are encouraging anyone who has not yet been vaccinated for COVID-19 who plans to attend this weekend’s PrairieFest community celebration to wear a mask to protect themselves and others from the virus.
The mask recommendation is one of several COVID-19 measures put in place by the park district for the festival which opens tomorrow, Friday, Sept. 3 and continues until Monday, Sept. 6 in PrairieFest Park, 91 Plank Road, just south of Oswego High School.
Traditionally the park district hosts PrairieFest on Father’s Day weekend every June, but canceled last year’s event due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This year, the park district has brought the festival back, but delayed it until this weekend.
The festival annually attracts thousands of area residents to live concerts, a Windy City Carnival and other attractions at PrairieFest Park and to downtown Oswego for the annual festival parade.
In an email, Laura Finch, director of marketing and customer service for the park district, said agency officials took the pandemic into account as they planned for this year’s delayed festival.
Finch explained, “We have specifically carved out a larger footprint on the festival grounds. Everything from the carnival to the Expo Village will be spaced out to allow for an experience without crowds at PrairieFest Park. The Main Stage has also been re-positioned for more space for people to distance on their blanket while enjoying the shows.”
She added, “The only indoor facility at PrairieFest is a headquarters for staff and volunteers. Masks are required for anyone temporarily checking into this site.”
Finch said festival guests who are unvaccinated are encouraged to wear masks while attending.
Additionally, she said masks are recommended for all persons at any festival venue where a person is unable to maintain a social distance, notably the concerts and popular areas of the parade route.
The workers on the Windy City Carnival at the fest have been required to be vaccinated and they will clean the rides daily, according to Finch.
Hand-washing stations and mounted hand sanitizers will be available at all entrances, exits and throughout the fest grounds.
Finch concluded, “As always, anyone who is sick or exhibiting any of the following symptoms, including: cough, shortness of breath, fever, chills, muscle pain or sore throat, should not attend PrairieFest.”
Admission to the fest and parking are free.
Popular singer-songwriter Uncle Kracker, known for his country and rock music hits, will headline the festival’s main stage with a concert from 9 to 10:30 p.m. on Saturday. Preceding Uncle Kracker will be Evil Burrito from 7 to 8:30 p.m. and a laser light show at 8:45 p.m.
The PrairieFest parade will step off at 1 p.m. Sunday from East View Academy, 4209 Route 71, and proceed on Jefferson Street to the village’s Main Street business district to Tyler Street. The parade will conclude at the former Traughber Junior High School on Franklin Street.
For information and to view an event brochure visit: prairiefest.com/wp-content/uploads/2021/08/PrairieFest-2021-Event-Brochure.pdf.
*Reporter Shea Lazansky contributed to this story.