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Star Wars Day, New Orleans North set to start summer fun in Joliet

Star Wars Day kicks off summer fun on June 4 and New Orleans North is next, and more events will follow

The message on Star Wars Day is “Coming Back Full Throttle,” which could be applied to the loaded summer festival season that starts next week in downtown Joliet.

Star Wars Day is June 4, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., and will be followed by New Orleans North on June 10, and plenty more after that.

“We are getting a lot of buzz. People are excited,” said Megan Millen, executive director of the Joliet Public Library, the lead organizer for Star Wars Day.

Millen said she cannot predict whether Star Wars Day will attract the 10,000 people it did before it was shut down by COVID-19 for the last two years. But she’s not ruling it out.

“If other events prove to be what’s happening, I think we’ll have a big crowd turn out,” she said.

Events are scheduled downtown for every weekend and some weekdays in June except for the last weekend, when the Joliet Park District will hold Taste of Joliet, the biggest summer festival of them all, at Memorial Stadium, which will mark the return of that event for the first time since 2019.

“It seems like people are excited to get out and are looking forward to these events again,” Joliet City Center Partnership Executive Director Priscilla Cordero said. “We’ve got a lot of vendors signing up for the events. The vendors think the crowds will come out.”

The Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce & Industry, which organizes New Orleans North, had to turn away food vendors because it had no more space to them, chamber President Jen Howard said.

New Orleans North had five food vendors in 2021, when an abridged version of the event was held in September. This year there are 10 vendors and 11 bands and musicians lined up for the three stages that will be set up downtown when New Orleans North returns to its June spot on the calendar.

“We really feel confident that we’re going to have back the crowd we had in 2019,” Howard said.

New Orleans North starts at 5 p.m.

Other June events are:

  • Paws on 66 Pet Rescue Day from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on June 18. The downtown event will have food vendors for the first time.
  • Juneteenth, a commemorative event that will include gospel music performances from noon to 4 p.m. on June 19 at the Joliet Area Historical Museum
  • Cars & Guitars, a car show with music from 5 to 8 p.m. on June 21. The downtown event is organized by the Illinois Rock and Roll Museum on Route 66.
  • Sip Into Summer from 5 to 7 p.m. on June 22 at the Jacob Henry Mansion Courtyard, 20 S. Eastern Ave. The event organized by the Joliet Region Chamber of Commerce Council for Working Women features a wine tasting, music and games.
  • Taste of Joliet, June 24-26 at Memorial Stadium.

“Food vendors are full. Ticket sales have been good,” Joliet Park District Executive Director Brad Staab said of Taste of Joliet. “The general feedback that we’re getting is that people are excited to get back out.”

The downtown schedule eases up as the summer gets hotter, Cordero said. But there will still be at least one event each month through October.

Other downtown events are:

• Including You, a family festival featuring live music from 5 to 11 p.m. on July 30

• Kidz Fest from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Aug. 6

• Joliet Latino Music & Food Festival from 3 to 11 p.m. on Sept. 17

• Tunes & Brews from 4 to 9 p.m. on Sept. 24

• Panic at the Plaza from 3 to 9 p.m. on Oct. 1.