Rib Fest in Lake in the Hills will have mask ban

Officials said the ban isn’t geared toward medical masks, but was done at request of police

Frank Gary heats ribs at the Pigfoot booth during the Rockin’ Rib Fest Friday at Sunset Park in Lake in the Hills.

Lake in the Hills officials voted to ban face coverings at the Rockin’ Rib Fest to be put on by the local Rotary Club next month.

Village President Ray Bogdanowski said the rule was made at the police department’s discretion, but the ban is more targeting masks such as skeleton masks that hide large portions of people’s faces as opposed to health masks.

He said that the village might look into an ordinance on masks, but those who must wear a mask for health reasons will be “fine” at Rib Fest.

Rib Fest, the annual festival in Lake in the Hills featuring music and ribs from vendors around the U.S., is set to take place from July 11 to 14 at Sunset Park. Summer Sunset Festival, another major event in town, is scheduled from Aug. 30 to Sept. 1 in the same location.

Rib Fest also will be the first carnival held in Lake in the Hills after the Cabin Fever carnival’s shutdown because of fights at the end of April.

Police confirmed that they were not on hand at that carnival, and documents released about that carnival didn’t include a security plan. Police will be on hand at Rib Fest; village documents indicate that the Rotary Club of Lake in the Hills is asking for a waiver of police hourly fees but will pay police overtime. The overtime is estimated to cost $23,150, according to village documents.

Village staff wanted approval of Rib Fest to be “subject to the restriction of face coverings at the event,” according to documents.

In response to a Northwest Herald inquiry about the mask ban, Lake in the Hills police public information officer Amanda Schmitt emailed a statement: “Incidents occurring across our nation, technology, crime trends and other factors can all play a significant [role] on the diverse threats and challenges that can impact public gatherings. The village of Lake in the Hills and the Lake in the Hills Police Department have always and will continue to provide safety and security for our residents and attendees of the two high-profile festivals each year in addition to many other village events and programs throughout the year.”

The statement continued: “The department also continually reevaluates and updates safety and security measures as local and nationwide events change the landscape of our society. The Lake in the Hills Police Department believes our residents, community members and event attendees will be supportive of updated safety and security measures at future events that will benefit in the overall protection of their families and in the interest of the community as a whole.”

Village Administrator Shannon Andrews told the Village Board on Tuesday that Windy City Amusements, the company that operated the spring carnival that was canceled and also is contracted to operate Rib Fest and the Summer Sunset Festival, plans to have a 6-feet-tall chainlink fence around the carnival with “defined” entrances and exits. Windy City Amusements did not respond to emails seeking comment.

The Heart to Heartbreaker band entertains during the Rockin’ Rib Fest Friday at Sunset Park in Lake in the Hills.

At the Tuesday meeting ahead of the Thursday vote, the Village Board briefly discussed Rib Fest but didn’t discuss security or the mask ban. Rib Fest came up in passing Thursday when Bogdanowski mentioned the Rotary is 20 years old this year.

The Lake in the Hills mask ban comes as lawmakers in the state of North Carolina are weighing a ban on masks in most public places, with proponents citing security. Officials have added a proposed exception to the bill that would allow people to wear a mask in public if they are doing so to try to stop the spread of contagious diseases, according to The Associated Press.

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