Batavia Windmill Fest offers fun for all ages

One of the most popular activities each year at Batavia Windmill Festival is the Golf Challenge.

For a small fee, people can stand on the edge of the Depot Museum pond and try to chip a golf ball onto a green that floats in the middle of the pond, said Kari Felkamp, director of marketing and public relations with the Batavia Park District.

"It attracts all ages. It is ages 10 and up. Adults get super competitive with it," she said. "They get so frustrated. It seems like it should be easy, but it's hard to land on the green. It's fun to watch."

Adults determined to sink a ball have reason to be excited. New this year for the golf challenge, the park district is teaming up with Top Golf-Naperville, which is providing more targets.

"They are custom-building two new floating greens that are going to go in the Depot pond," Felkamp said. "They will have their own staff on site to provide some pointers to the golfers, and they'll also be providing some prizes this year."

Batavia's Windmill City Festival runs July 7-10 along the Riverwalk in downtown Batavia. It's organized by the Batavia Park District, Batavia Chamber of Commerce, Batavia Depot Museum and the City of Batavia.

The other thing that's changing this year is the Windmill Whirl 5K race — it will be held at Mooseheart this year.

"We've been in talks with them for about a year now to use some of their trails off of Main Street basically, so runners will run along a trail and loop around a lake on Mooseheart property," Felkamp said. "It's on Friday night, so it will be a really pretty race to run. It's a night race so it is a little different than other races in the area. And Mooseheart is not a typical place for people to get a chance to run."

Other new activities include an all-ages sidewalk-chalk-drawing contest at 3:30 p.m. July 9 on the South Riverwalk Plaza.

"Batavia is such an art-centered community that hopefully we get some people to come out and show off their artistic side and compete in that," she said.

The band 7th Heaven returns to Windmill Fest July 8.

"Last year, they did Friday night and it was our biggest night ever of the festival," she said. "So we're looking forward to a good crowd Friday night again."

Another favorite event is the ice-cream eating contest, which will take place at 2 p.m. July 10.

"We've had a huge showing the last couple of years. We've had to do multiple heats of the same age category because of how many people we get," she said. "And we do have an adult division, too. That's always fun to watch. The Batavia Creamery donates their Superman ice cream, which is the nice, bright blue ice cream, which makes for fun photos."

The craft show and flea market will be July 9 and 10.

"We try to make sure there is something for each age group each day," Felkamp said. "Saturday is definitely our busiest day. Most of our activities are on Saturday. We'll have the craft show and the farmers market for the older crowd. We do have touch-a-truck in the morning for the kids. For the pet lovers, we have the pet parade, which is always a crowd favorite."

The pet parade is at 10 a.m. July 9 and the annual Diaper Derby is at 3 p.m.

People with visions of stardom can try live band karaoke from 3 to 5 p.m. July 9. Additionally, the Batavia Parks Foundation hosts a bags tournament that day at 6 p.m. Saturday's bands are The New Invaders at 6 p.m. and Arra at 9 p.m. Hillbilly Rockstarz play at 4 p.m. July 10.

"We get whole families that come out to this every year," Felkamp said. "We see some of the same families year after year. It's kind of neat because we get to watch the kids grow up and do different things throughout the years. That's one of the things I love about my job. This event just kind of ties that all together and brings everybody down for the weekend."

Felkamp recommends parking in the Civic Center or Eastside Community Center, as downtown parking can be difficult.

Annie Alleman is a freelance writer.

Batavia Windmill City Festival

When: July 7-10

Where: Riverwalk, Houston Street and Island Avenue, Batavia

Tickets: Free

Information: Windmillcityfest.org

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