Community stage provides outlet for young talent

by Lynn Meredith
Elburn—Judi Day is a volunteer who wears two hats when Elburn Days rolls around. She is the Entertainment Chairperson, who coordinates the Main Stage acts, the paid headliners for the weekend. She also created and now chairs the second stage, known as the Community Stage. She spoke about how the second stage got its start.

“The Community Stage is reserved for acts in general that are not paid acts. Initially, when I started that stage, it was because we had dancers from a local dance company that were using the asphalt at the end of the basketball court to dance on. It was obvious we needed some place for the youth in the community to showcase their talents that was safe for them. Also, there are many youth that attend extra-curricular activities that aren’t offered at the schools that don’t have a chance to showcase these talents—as they would in school activities like band and cheerleading—such as guitar or piano lessons, bagpipe, ballet, jazz or dance. The talent contest started from that,” Day said.

The events and contests are geared to young people and provide a place for them to gather while still being on the grounds of Lion’s Park. One popular event is the Elburn Idol contest. It began as an extension of the talent contest. The Idol winner of each division sings before the headliners on the Main Stage.

“The bands love it, and the Idol winners get a kick out of being on the big stage. Other acts are the hula hoop contest, the ice cream eating contest, dance lessons and Ronald McDonald. Some of these have been held for years and just moved to the community stage,” Day said. “These all give the youth in our community, ages 3 to teen, something to keep them occupied other than carnival rides, just walking around the park and hopefully out of mischief.”

Day said that all the events are meant to inspire creativity and fun, and entertain in a family-friendly environment.

The Community Stage is located in the corner by the main building and parking lot in a shaded area with bleachers and seating with chairs. The stage is 24’x26,’ not much smaller than the Main Stage. This year, both the Main and Community stages are new, with roofs, sound and lights so events can go on into the evenings.

The Lions are all unpaid volunteers who put in endless hours to entertain the community. Planning goes on year-round.

“Most of us will tell you that Elburn Days begins where it left off last year, or so it does, for the most part, with entertainment. Behind the scenes there are insurance policies with the stages, quotes, etc., but I love doing it. When I see the kids’ excitement as the rides roll into town, as we put up the first fence post for the weekend, or even as I smell the first vendor’s food begin to cook, it only reminds me that Elburn Days is close. It seems as though all Lion’s members are an extension of our family, and Elburn Days is our largest fundraiser. It is so worth it. There are guys that have put in 55 years-plus at that park. They are the amazing ones. That is what really helps other people,” Day said.

Community Stage Schedule
• Friday, Aug. 17
7:30 p.m. Ronald McDonald
8 to 8:30 p.m. A Factor Dance Company performs

• Saturday, Aug.18
1 to 1:30 p.m. Hula hoop contest—all ages
1:45 to 2:30 p.m. “Elburn Idol” Finalist competition
2:30 to 3 p.m. Empower Dance Company Junior Dancer Solo Showcase
3:15 to 4 p.m. girlPOWER Dance exhibition, free dance class for children ages 3 to 6
4:15 to 5:15 p.m. M&M Dance Studio performs
5:30 to 6 p.m. Kaneland High School cheerleaders perform
6:15 to 7 p.m. Elburn Idol Rewind: Past winners/contestants perform
7:45 p.m. “The Giving Moon” teen band plays

• Sunday, Aug. 19
1:15 to 2 p.m. Free hip hop class for children ages 5 to 10
2:15 to 3 p.m. Third annual Ice Cream Eating Contest, for children age 6
through adults, sponsored by Colonial Ice Cream
Empower Dance Company, Teen Dancer Solo Showcase
4:15 to 5:15 p.m. M&M Dance Studio Performs
5:30 to 6 p.m. Kaneland High School cheerleaders perform