Madalyn Davison, 5, of Oak Lawn, had fun riding the Ferris Wheel at last year's Palos Hills Friendship Fest at Moraine Valley Campus, 107th and 88th Avenue in Palos Hills. (Photo by Kelly White)

Madalyn Davison, 5, of Oak Lawn, had fun riding the Ferris Wheel at last year's Palos Hills Friendship Fest at Moraine Valley Campus, 107th and 88th Avenue in Palos Hills. (Photo by Kelly White)

Family fun returns at Palos Hills Friendship Fest

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By Kelly White

The Palos Hills Friendship Festival was back at it again this summer, celebrating the season with fun and entertainment for the entire family.

“It’s such a fun place to be,” John Jarosz, 10, of Palos Hills, said.

The festival did not take place last summer due to the COVID-19 pandemic, however, city officials and local community members alike were happy to have it take place from Thursday, July 8, through Sunday, July 11, at Moraine Valley Campus, 107th Street and 88th Avenue in Palos Hills.

“Timing is everything, and the City of Palos Hills is very excited and happy to bring back the Friendship Fest this year now that the state has reopened all special events,” Palos Hills Mayor Jerry Bennett, said. “Our city fest is by far the most popular special event of the year not only for our residents but also the Southwest suburbs.”

This marked the festival’s 38th year.

“Considering what has happened over the last year plus with the pandemic, we know our residents are very excited to be able to go out probably for the first time in over a year, to enjoy a weekend of fun and entertainment outdoors with their family, friends, and neighbors,” Bennett said. “That is my most favorite like about the fest.”

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Palos Hills friends, John Jarosz, 10, and Luke Glod, 12, on Saturday afternoon at the Palos Hills Friendship Fest at Moraine Valley Campus.

City of Palos Hills Resource & Recreation Department Commissioner Kristin Violante agreed with Bennett.

“It was disappointing to have to cancel last year’s fest,” Violante said. “So many people look forward to this event each year, especially the mayor. This year is meaningful because it is probably the first major fun event many individuals and families have been able to attend in over a year. People can catch up neighbors and friends in a fun and safe environment. We missed everyone last year and have been looking forward to this year’s Friendship Fest.”

There was something for the everyone to enjoy at the fest with the Wilson Family Carnival, a family owned and operated traveling amusement park servicing many events throughout the Midwest that owns and operate over 20 amusement rides and carnival games.

Mega passes were available for unlimited carnival rides but the entertainment did not stop there.

The city of Palos Hills took great pride in the musical lineup offered throughout the festival weekend with several bands: One of Those Night Band, Chicago Experience Band, Infinity Band, Ron Burgundy’s Band, American English Band, CK & The Gray Band and Coverlicious Band.

There was also a wide array of local food vendors offering delicious treats, including: Highlanders Grill, Zacarelli’s Pizza, Genoa Italian, RS Concessions, Snackrunn, Tacos El Galivan, That’s My Dawg and Mastic Pistachia Gelato.

Face painting, free pony rides and a petting zoo for children took place, along with Bingo for adults. A special needs day took place on Friday, making the fest all-inclusive for all of its residents.

A giant firework display scheduled for Sunday night was postponed because of rain and has been rescheduled for Labor Day.

“I like that the admission and parking is free,” Violante said. “Individuals can attend the event and not have to spend any money if they choose.”

The Palos Hills Police Department was also present every day to ensure all attendees participated safely in all festival activities.

“I love the community feel of this fest,” Alicia Carey, of Palos Hills, said. “It’s a great time and everyone here is always so friendly.”

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Thomas Carey, 6, and Travis Carey, 9, were fearless on Saturday afternoon at the Palos Hills Friendship Fest at Moraine Valley Campus.

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