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October 8, 2012

Gold Rush Days Festival draws crowd

WOODLAWN — — Though the second year for the Gold Rush Days Festival was cold and rainy at times, it did not stop anyone from having a good time.

Karen Wehrheim was one of the 5K runners who started off the Gold Rush Days and said she had to scrape ice off her windows Saturday morning.

She said the cold weather did not deter her from running because she had spent so much time practicing for the 5K. After running, she went home to take a shower and headed back up to the Gold Rush Days Festival.

She said she came for the music – there was a band playing every hour from 11 a.m. until the firework began at dusk. Wehrheim said she was also there for the food.

“In a town this size, everyone is looking for something to do,” Wehrheim said.

 Wehrheim is the director of Lavender Ridge, which was a sponsor for the Gold Rush Days Festival as well. She said this year the festival was bigger than last year and she is looking forward to next year.

“This year it seemed like we had more sponsors,” Wehrheim said, adding next year, Lavender Ridge plans on sponsoring the festival again and she will be encouraging her friends to do the same.

Beth Ethridge, a friend of Wehrheim and a teacher at Woodlawn Grade School, said she was excited about the festival.

“I think it’s a great thing,” she said, adding she thought the weather probably hindered attendance a bit.

She said she thought the food was great and she said she was excited about the prizes for the raffle, especially the 4-Wheeler drawing.

Dave Eckelberry, one of the board members for the festival said a lot of work went in to planning the festival this year.

“Last year we didn’t know what we were doing. We just kind of winged it,” he said. “This year was a lot smoother.”

Although the committee for the Gold Rush Days Festival came up with the name, it was partly in homage to a Woodlawn Grade School class, which petitioned the state of Illinois to name the Gold Rush apple as the state fruit, Eckelberry said.

His brother, Joe Eckelberry, was president this year for the festival committee. He said everything turned out very well, even though the location had to be moved to the grade school parking lot because the Chapman Sports Complex was too wet and muddy. In addition to moving the location, Joe Eckelberry said a generator stopped working as well.

“We just have to roll with it,” he said. “”We’ve done it for a year, so we know what to expect.”

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