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Kishwaukee Fest parade features Mini Abe and candy

Chase Ashley (right), 4, of DeKalb collects candy tossed out Friday by marchers in the Kishwaukee Fest parade.
Chase Ashley (right), 4, of DeKalb collects candy tossed out Friday by marchers in the Kishwaukee Fest parade.

DeKALB – For William Zaver, the Kishwaukee Fest parade is all about the candy.

“I like picking the candy up off the road and eating it,” he said.

Zaver, 10, marched in the Kishwaukee Fest parade Friday evening with the rest of his Cub Scout Pack 131 of DeKalb. Cubmaster Matt Skeens said although the group tosses candy to the paradegoers every year, the boys end up eating half and giving away the other half.

“I enjoy the candy the most,” said Nathan Skeens, 10. “It’s yummy.”

Pack 131 was one of 74 units that marched in the parade Friday. Other units including youth sports teams, bands, local businesses and more than 15 Illinois pageant queen winners.

Kishwaukee Fest, a week of family-oriented events, celebrated its fifth year, and organizer Michael Embrey said he has been pleased with the turnout.

“I think the community has been more and more looking forward to [the festival,]” Embrey said. “I’m seeing more young kids. It’s a good way for them to have fun and get candy. How many other ways can you get candy in July? Most people just get it at Halloween and Christmas.”

Melissa Sedevie attended the parade for the first time Friday, and her two children loved collecting candy, as well. Sedevie said her family moved to DeKalb less than a year ago, so it’s their first summer in the area. She said Kishwaukee Fest was a good way to learn more about the community.

“We’re from a bigger city, so we thought the parade was a smalltown kind of cute,” Sedevie said. “We got here so early because we anticipated big city crowds but there was lots of space.”

The parade changed its route for the first time this year to avoid crossing over the Fourth Street train tracks, which had slowed down the parade in the past. Instead, the parade began at Clinton Rosette Middle School, traveling south to Lincoln HIghway, on to Third Street, and ending on Locust Street. The parade was led by the grand marshal of the event, Abraham Lincoln impersonator George Buss.

Buss’ appearance tied in with the state’s Mini Abe tourism campaign. Mini Abe, a doll that resembles the former president, rode in the parade with Debbie Armstrong, DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director. Armstrong said Mini Abe had been part of Kishwaukee Fest events all week, and people young and old asked to take selfies with him, and recognize him from the state tourism commercials.

“The parade is here on Lincoln Highway, after all,” Armstrong said. “Lincoln is what Illinois is.”

Kishwaukee Fest activities and events continue through the weekend, including Baconpalooza and the Swine and Wine Festival from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. today in downtown DeKalb. Embrey said more than 80 wines will be available for tasting, as well as a variety of bacon-related treats. A Corvette car show will begin at 10 a.m. in the Van Buer Plaza.

“[Kishwaukee Fest] is a good way to create events for the community and promote tourism for the community,” Embrey said.

Kishwaukee Fest events


Baconpalooza, Swine & Wine Festival, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. downtown

DeKalb Wine tasting, 10 a.m. Palmer Court

Corvette car show, 10 a.m. Van Buer Plaza

Wild West Event, Noon to 5:00 p.m., Malta, a regional event

Sycamore Cruise Night, 4 p.m.


Turing Back Time Car Show, 9:00 a.m., Sycamore

Wild West Shoot Out, 10a.m. to 3 p.m., Malta, a regional event

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