Backlot Bash takes sting out of back-to-school time

The Bash is Coming: The popular Backlot Bash with live music, carnival rides and a whole bunch more is set for Aug. 26 to Aug. 28 in downtown Skokie. (Mike Isaacs / Pioneer Press)
The Bash is Coming: The popular Backlot Bash with live music, carnival rides and a whole bunch more is set for Aug. 26 to Aug. 28 in downtown Skokie. (Mike Isaacs / Pioneer Press)

If there is anything that takes a little of the sting out of the approaching end of summer — when schools throughout Skokie call students back in session — it’s the popular Backlot Bash.

The Skokie Park District’s three-day weekend festival, which fills the downtown Skokie area near Village Hall with carnival rides, music, games and more, could not come at a better time as far as many are concerned.

Park district officials have called the festival a “last hurrah” for families before fall sets in and the calendar heads toward colder days and more serious endeavors.

Although the turnout is always dependent on the weather, park district officials acknowledge, the Backlot Bash is undoubtedly the most heavily attended event the park district and other village agencies operate, they say.

“As much as any of our events, this one appeals to a wide range of ages and backgrounds,” Skokie Park District Executive Director John Ohrlund said. “It sounds cliched, but it’s true: it has a little something for everybody.”

A little something for everybody seems to add up to a lot for everyone.

The Backlot Bash, which runs from Aug. 26 to Aug. 28, includes popular and diverse live music; three days of a variety of carnival rides; the Backlot Dash 5K run; classic films shown at the Skokie Theatre and the Skokie Public Library; bingo; a pancake breakfast; a classic car show; family entertainment at the library; the Skokie Farmers Market on Sunday morning and more.

Like Ohrlund, Skokie Park District Superintendent of Recreation and Facilities Michelle Tuft said the festival’s strong appeal is based on having so many activities for people to enjoy.

“There is a carnival for kids, music and a beer tent for adults, vendors selling a lot of different foods and a lot more,” she said. “It’s hard not to find something to like.”

But more than any other event in Skokie, music stands at the center of this village-wide extravaganza. From the beginning of the festival Friday night to the end of the festival early Sunday evening, live music is always in the air.

Since 2007, when the Backlot Bash first kicked off in downtown Skokie, organizers say, the festival has staged eclectic rock, blues and R&B music, including the Presidents of the United States of America, Lonnie Brooks, The Fixx, The English Beat, The Romantics, Cracker, Fastball, Spin Doctors and Smoking Popes.

Headliners this year include Blue Oyster Cult on Friday, Living Colour on Saturday and Tributosaurus transforming into the Police on Sunday.

The Skokie Review will have more details on the music offerings and other Backlot Bash events closer to the festival opening.

While the park district manages and develops the Backlot Bash every year, the event is possible because of multi-agency cooperation and coordination, organizers say. The village, the library, the Skokie Chamber of Commerce and others contribute to its success, they say.

Business sponsors this year include North Shore Community Bank; Joseph Mulllarkey Distributors Inc. (Miller); Renewal by Andersen (window replacement); the Illinois Science + Technology Park; Bath Planet; Bath Fitter; Window Works; Lyft; Sports Clips Haircuts; and State Farm.

For more information on the Backlot Bash, access

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