As with any long-running festival, it’s easy to get caught up in the parade, live music and food that takes place annually in Palatine's Community Park and take for granted the amount of planning that goes into such a large event.
For the group of Palatine Jaycees that put on the Hometown Fest each year, as they’ve done for the past 55 years, there’s about six months of planning that goes into a weekend’s worth of fun, but it’s all for the greater good.
“We raise money to give back to the community and it’s a big fest for the community,” said Jackie Burke.
Burke, who is one of three chairpersons from the Palatine Jaycees coordinating the event, said she was inspired to get involved after she attended the event a few years back and noticed the fest held a special needs carnival for families.
“It’s something that struck me as being really nice,” Burke said. “My brother is handicapped, so the organization doing this for handicapped adults is amazing to me.”
The Palatine Jaycees is a young person’s leadership organization made up of people between the ages of 21 and 40 that offers opportunities for networking and professional development through community service.
Judy Reinholtz, president of the Palatine chapter, said there are about 84 active members in the group, which is one of the largest in the state. Members don’t have to live or work in Palatine, and are free to join any chapter they want. The group runs more than 100 community service, social, and leadership development projects each year, according to its website.
Since December, Burke has been planning this year’s Hometown Fest with fellow chairs Paul Castle and Jennifer Iannuzzelli, saying it takes that long to get everything coordinated.
“I think the biggest learning lesson so far with putting on this festival was probably all the behind-the-scenes things that you don’t expect—having to negotiate Porta-Potties, to getting a liquor license,” Burke said. “It’s all the little things that you wouldn’t think would be such a big deal, but they are.”
Jason Coroneos, who served as chair for the fest in 2009 and is now community vice president for the chapter, agreed with Burke’s sentiments. He said he took away from the experience better time-management skills, as well as learning how to work with village officials.
In all the event takes about 3,000 manpower hours to put on and all the money made during Hometown Fest is given back to the community. Reinholtz said the group recently donated $10,000 to various organizations that needed funding to do certain activities.
“It is honestly a great way for people to be involved in the community and a great way for them to get to know others,” Reinholtz said. “I don’t even remember my life before the Jaycees.”
** ** Check back with Palatine Patch next week for more Hometown Fest information.