Oak Fest celebrates 25 years in grand fashion
By Jason Freeman email@example.com July 1, 2012 7:32PM
The Hayes brothers, of Midlothian, run to the family car under cover of an umbrella as a rain storm hits the 25th annual Oak Fest in Oak Forest, Illinois, Sunday, July 1, 2012. | Joseph P. Meier~Sun-Times Media
Oak Fest continues ...
Oak Fest continues from 6 to 10 p.m. Monday with bingo, carnival rides, a circus and the 5K Liberty run at 7 p.m. Other events include a PCW Wrestling demonstration from 6 to 8 p.m. and live entertainment by “American Idol” star Chris Medina at 6 p.m. and the band Ear Candy at 7:30 p.m.
The fest will run from 6 p.m. to midnight Tuesday and will feature bingo, carnival rides and a circus, as well as live music by Deja Vu at 6 p.m. and Infinity at 9 p.m.
Oak Fest concludes from 3 to 10 p.m. Wednesday with bingo, carnival rides, a circus and a fireworks show at dusk. The Walk-Ins will take the stage at 4 p.m., followed by CoverGurl at 6 p.m.
Updated: August 3, 2012 6:18AM
When Oak Fest began 25 years ago, the sight of someone strolling down the street in a pair of nylon parachute pants and sporting a teased hairdo the size of Alaska wouldn’t have been out of place in the slightest.
But whereas 1987 and its fashion trends have long since faded into the collective cultural conscious, Oak Fest is still alive and kicking.
“We’re so long-running that it’s become part of people’s lives,” said Oak Fest chairman Joe Koce. “We have people that come in from out of town and out of state just to come to the fest, because this is what they remember as a kid.”
The free festival, which began on Thursday at 159th Street and Central Avenue, runs until Wednesday and features carnival rides, live bands, a food court, a circus and games of bingo each day.
Mike Millay, of Tinley Park, came out on Sunday with his wife, Iona, mainly to check out the dozens of antique automobiles and motorcycles on display during the fest’s Car and Bike Show.
“I’ve always enjoyed cars and bikes,” Mike said. “It’s always been a hobby of mine. It’s good to just get out and do something and see the cars and listen to some of the music.”
Judy Scott, of Midlothian, came with her husband, Jim, and her neighbors Vicky and Mike Stuckart.
“It’s really close to home,” she said. “We used to take our bikes and ride them over here. You chain the bikes up to a tree and then come to the festival.”
Both the Scotts and the Stuckarts had a bit invested in the classic car show via a 1974 Dodge Challenger and a 1969 Ford Mustang, which they proudly displayed in an area near the beer garden.
“We’ve been coming out quite a lot since they’ve been doing the car shows,” she said. “Years back, when the kids were younger, we used to come to the carnival. But we always come out for the car shows.”
Even though both couples came primarily for Sunday’s car show, they said they intend to come back to Oak Fest on the remaining days, especially for Wednesday’s fireworks finale at dusk.
“We love the fireworks,” Vicky Stuckart said. “The fireworks are great.”
Oak Forest resident Guy Wolfe and his girlfriend, Leta Corradino, said they try to make Oak Fest every year.
“I think it’s good for the community and it brings people together,” he said. “It’s all about fun and games, so it’s a nice social event.”
“They have great music here, too,” Corradino said. “You sit out on a beautiful night and watch the fireworks and have a cold beer. It doesn’t get any better than sitting outside on a hot summer night, listening to some good music and having a cold one.”
Koce said the fest has lasted as long as it has because people simply like what they see.
“We try to keep it as family oriented as we can,” he said. “We try to have a nice food selection, good bands and an open atmosphere, and we try to put on a nice place where people want to come and just enjoy the weekend.”