Lightning, storm cause Taste of Joliet to close early
By Jaime Angio Correspondent June 29, 2012 8:26PM
Cousins Erin Winke, 5, (left) and Ava Stice, 5, both of Joliet, share a shaved ice drink during the Taste of Joliet at Memorial Stadium Friday, Jaune 29, 2012. | Brett Roseman~Sun-Times Media
Updated: June 30, 2012 11:46PM
This time, REO Speedwagon wasn’t able to ride the storm out.
The band took center stage Friday night at Joliet Memorial Stadium on the first day of the park district’s annual Taste of Joliet. But after playing for nearly an hour, lightning and tornado warnings forced the festival to shut down and everyone had to evacuate.
“All I could think about was the Sugarland concert, you know, when (the stage) came down,” said REO fan Patty Gould, of Naperville, referring to the incident last August at the Indiana State Fair.
She said the storm was brewing about 10 p.m., when an announcement was made for everyone to leave the grounds. The stadium speaker kept repeating, “Please exit the stadium and go directly to your car.”
“It was like a wild mad dash,” she said. “People were holding babies, and it was just pretty scary because it was so quick. The music stopped and the lights went out. People started grabbing onto their children, and it was just pretty scary.”
James Eddington, of Crest Hill, said he was walking around when it started storming.
“All of a sudden, the wind picked up and started blowing everything around, the electricity went out and everybody was just trying to get out of the stadium, so we’re lucky we made it to our car,” he said.
The Taste of Joliet opened at 3 p.m. Friday and drew a large crowed before the thunderstorm came through. Joliet Park District special events coordinator Donna Gale didn’t have an attendance figure, but said thousands turned out, with REO Speedwagon the big draw.
“We have sold more tickets than we have ever sold pre-sale to any event here at the Taste of Joliet, so we are pretty pleased with the response,” she said.
The food fest, which was resurrected in 2006 and has been held each year since, features 23 local vendors and will continue through Sunday. Hours are noon to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday.
Other performers on tap this weekend include Josh Turner on Saturday and Radio Disney star Shane Harper and country artists Little Big Town on Sunday. There’s also a carnival and The Kid Zone, which has a variety of activities for children.
For more information on the Taste of Joliet visit: http://tasteofjoliet.com/
Contributing: Sun-Times Media