On the Record

Community celebration

On the Record with Phil Montgomery

Phil Montgomery
Phil Montgomery

KIRKLAND – “Something for everyone” is how Phil Montgomery describes Kirkland’s Fourth of July Celebration.

Montgomery is a Kirkland Lions Club member and the entertainment, beer tent and fireworks chairman of the festival.

Kirkland’s 71st annual Fourth of July Celebration, hosted by the Kirkland Lions Club, will take place Wednesday through Saturday in Franklin Township Park. The festival will feature a carnival, vendors, a beer tent, two bags tournaments, a parade starting at 11 a.m. Thursday, a car show on Friday, and on Saturday, a tractor show, a 1K/ 5K fun run and what’s touted as the largest fireworks show in northern Illinois starting at 9:30 p.m.

Live music, demonstrations and shows will be performed on two stages each day of the festival. Lainey Wilson, featuring country star Rodney Atkins, will perform from 8 p.m. to midnight Friday. There will be a $10 cover charge for their performance; all other shows are free.

For a full schedule of events or for more information, visit www.kirkland4thofjuly.com.

Montgomery spoke to MidWeek reporter Katrina Milton to discuss the upcoming festival and its events and attractions.

Milton: How is the Lions Club involved with the festival?

Montgomery: The entire festival is planned, organized and hosted by the Kirkland Lions Club. The money we make goes back to the community and northern Illinois. We do a lot of local projects throughout the year, like hearing and vision screenings. We also help little leagues, Boy Scouts, the food pantry, the fire department and the school’s sports boosters and education foundation. We’ve built things in the park and have been very involved with the long-term recovery of Fairdale after the tornado.

Milton: Who would you describe as the festival’s target audience?

Montgomery: There’s something for everybody. It’s a festival you can bring your whole family to: adults, kids, teens and all ages and everyone in between. There’s also something going on every day for everyone of all ages.

Milton: What are some of the festival’s events and activities?

Montgomery: Wednesday and Friday night are wristband nights at the carnival and we’ll have Rodney Atkins perform on Friday night. There’s the Fourth of July parade, vendors, pancake breakfasts, pork chop dinner, two bags tournaments, lots of entertainment including a magician, a zoo with a bunch of animals, a 1K/5K fun run, car show, tractor show, water fights, and the largest fireworks show in northern Illinois.

Milton: How did you get involved in the festival?

Montgomery: I grew up in Kirkland, so I’d say ever since 1982 I’ve been attending the festival with my family. I joined the Lions Club in 2008. I’ve always been involved in some way or another.

Milton: How has the festival changed through the years?

Montgomery: This is our 71st year, and we’ve changed and adapted through the years. In 2001 or 2002, we added the entertainment and beer tent area. We’ve ramped our fireworks show up, it’s 35 to 40 minutes long without breaks, just constant fireworks. We have more and more entertainment and bigger artists. We’re hoping with continued community support, the festival will continue to grow. We’re seeing more and more people come each year. We estimate more than 25,000 people attend every year. Except the $10 cover charge for Rodney Atkins, it’s completely free. Just come on out, have fun and celebrate the Fourth of July.

Milton: Is there anyone you’d like to thank?

Montgomery: There are more than 70 members in the Lions Club, and we couldn’t do it without them, their extended family and friends and all the volunteers. It truly is a community effort. Everyone comes together to make the festival a great experience.

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