Leaders seek permission to close Lincoln Highway for Corn Fest

Published: Friday, Feb. 8, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

DeKALB – The DeKalb City Council could petition the state for permission to close part of Lincoln Highway for Corn Fest over Labor Day weekend.

City officials want the Illinois Department of Transportation to allow them to close down Lincoln Highway between First and Fourth Street from 3 p.m. Aug. 29 to 9 p.m. Sept. 1. City Manager Mark Biernacki said the resolution the council will vote on Monday is similar to ones they’ve done in the past.

“They weren’t in the past,” Biernacki said when asked if IDOT is hesitant to temporarily shut down part of Lincoln Highway. “We don’t expect them to be in the future.”

Corn Fest was held in downtown DeKalb for 30 years until the organizers moved it to DeKalb Taylor Municipal Airport in 2008. At that time, the city was renovating downtown. On Feb. 1, festival organizers announced they wanted to move it back downtown.

The festival also was held near move-in day for Northern Illinois University students, but organizers want to push it back a week this year to Labor Day weekend. City officials wanted the change so they didn’t have to juggle resources between the festival and move-in day.

Biernacki said it could cost the city between $55,000 to $60,000 to host Corn Fest downtown. By comparison, hosting it at the airport had a price tag of only $40,000.

There will be no parking fees for visitors, either.

“There’s just no practical way to levy, let alone collect, such a fee downtown rather than at the airport,” Biernacki.

In addition to Lincoln Highway, parts of Second, Third and Locust streets will be closed as well. The city has the authority to close these streets without consulting state officials.

The festival will be on the north side of the train tracks that run through downtown DeKalb, Biernacki said. In past years, Corn Fest spanned both sides of the tracks. Keeping it to one side eliminates a potential safety hazard.

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