Rock the Block was the most exciting thing to happen in downtown Lake Zurich in the 40 years Jim and Ruth Lang have lived in town.
The two stood in the middle of Main Street Saturday night during the inaugural Rock the Block street festival in awe of the crowd, the music and the fun.
“This is phenomenal. I can’t believe this,” Ruth Lang said. “It’s really phenomenal.”
“It’s amazing,” Jim Lang said.
Village President Tom Poynton came up with the idea months ago and recruited volunteers to coordinate the event. Poynton and Parks and Recreation Manager Dave Peterson served as co-chairs of the committee.
“It’s been beyond our wildest dreams,” Poynton said of the turnout.
The estimates of the crowd were not available but the downtown was packed throughout the evening as three bands performed on the Midwest Motors stage and local restaurants, along with food trucks, sold food. Local organizations like the Lake Zurich Area Chamber of Commerce, the Lions Club and the Rotary Club sold beer, wine and drinks.
Businesses, like Mainstreet Art and Koffee Cup, opened for the festival. People came in and out of Frankie Johnson’s Mainstreet Art, watching student artists paint portraits.
The turnout was more than Johnson expected and provided good exposure to the art school.
Vendors, too, didn’t expect such a large crowd.
“It’s wall to wall packed,” said Ross Kessler, owner of Popcorn Jester, which specializes in kettle corn. He was also selling fresh lemonade. He was running low on ingredients for the lemonade because he didn’t anticipate so many people for a first time festival, he said.
Everything was running smoothly and the crowds impressed Kessler, who is hoping to be part of Lake Zurich’s Farmers Market next year.
He sees promise in Lake Zurich’s downtown.
That is exactly how Poynton and the Rock the Block committee hoped residents, businesses and potential developers will start looking at Lake Zurich.
Poynton sent letters to 40 developers inviting them to the street festival. The hope is Rock the Block and the huge turnout will help spur interest in the Lake Zurich’s downtown revitalization.
Jim Lang hopes it helps too. He enjoyed seeing families with their children and old-time Lake Zurich residents. But he wants to see the downtown turn around.
“It’s fun for us, but great for the community if it helps with development,” he said.
Rock the Block was “one of the best inaugural events we’ve seen,” said Graham Buss, of Chicago Cupcake.
Buss grew up in Wonder Lake and has been to downtown Lake Zurich but has never see it as busy as it was on Saturday.
“There were so many people. It was full immediately,” Buss said. “I think it’s everything that they (organizers) hoped for.”