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  • Carlie Mertz

Lake Forest Day Is (Finally) Back

By Carlie Mertz

After taking a year off due to the coronavirus pandemic, the 113th Lake Forest Day will be back Aug. 3-4. The two-day celebration includes a community parade through downtown, a Fun Run and the popular carnival at West Park. Police Sergeant Brett Marquette and Lieutenant Andy Rick of the Fire Department are the grand marshals.

The Lake Forest Day Parade always draws a crowd. Photo courtesy of the History Center of Lake Forest-Lake Bluff.

"Growing up in Lake Forest, I have the most vivid memories of Lake Forest Day throughout the years," said Sarah Lockhart. "Those sunny Wednesday mornings at the parades always led into fun-filled afternoons and evenings at the West Park carnival.    "After a pandemic year, I think we have all gained a greater appreciation for the extraordinary community we live in.  Along with our kids' excitement for parade candy and carnival rides, we are all looking forward to celebrating Lake Forest Day!" The festival was first established by the Lake Forest Women's Club in 1908. The Women’s Club created Lake Forest Day to help fund the Contagious Hospital, which eventually merged into Lake Forest Hospital.

Some of the original festivities included a cutest baby contest, mind reading dog and a hot-air-balloon launch. Every business in town was required to shut down so that no one missed out on the fun.

In 1921, the American Legion McKinlock Post 264 became the new sponsor and has upheld the cherished tradition ever since. The Legion uses a majority of the funds raised at the festival to support local veterans and veterans programs. Money also goes back into the community by helping fund the Veterans Day event, American Legion baseball, Boys and Girls State (where teenagers learn about the operations of various levels of government) and scholarships.

In past years, the Legion has bussed in patients from the Veterans Administration Hospital in North Chicago to participate in the festivities for a few hours.

“It’s really nice to see the patients from the hospital indulge in some funnel cakes and enjoy a different environment.” Lake Forest Day Chairman Tom Glover says. “People should come to Lake Forest Day because it’s a great time and a fantastic way to support local businesses and our veterans organizations.”

The 2021 festivities are family oriented and designed for both children and adults to enjoy. Attendees can expect great carnival rides, a beer garden and talented bands performing on both nights. The carnival will take place in West Park from 6 p.m.-10 p.m. on Aug. 3 and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Aug. 4. The celebration also includes a 5k Run and Fun Run at 7 a.m. on Aug. 4 and the community parade kicking off at 10 a.m. that day, which will head north on Western Avenue before eventually ending up at West Park.

For more information, visit or check out the history of Lake Forest at


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