Kane County History: No Mistake, Batavia’s Windmill Fest Was Once ‘Boo Boo Days’
- Editor’s Note: This article is part of a weekly series on Kane County’s amazing history. Today’s post was submitted by Batavia Depot Museum Executive Director Jennifer Putzier.
Boo Boo Days is a summer tradition in Batavia and has been since 1956. Today, it’s known as Windmill City Fest, and it’s the biggest summer event in Batavia!
The festival had its humble beginnings as a sidewalk sale in 1956. The idea of Boo Boo Days was introduced to the Batavia Chamber of Commerce by Arthur Swanson, proprietor of Swanson Hardware and later mayor of Batavia. The idea was that downtown merchants would set out their “boo boos” or items that didn’t sell during the season.
The sales included clearance items, overstock, or end of season goods at deeply discounted prices. It was an instant success!
As the excitement (and number of shoppers) grew, Boo Boo Days started adding refreshments and activities for kids so the adults could shop all day.
To make clerks and other merchants more recognizable, they dressed to match for the Boo Boo Days theme. During “Western Roundup” in 1972, there were many cowboys in downtown shops, and for “Gay 90s” in 1975, straw boater hats were abundant.
Gradually, the focus of the festival moved away from the bargains. In the 1970s, events such as concerts, the crowning of Miss Batavia, community plays, art shows, marathons and even competitions such as the annual Tug of War event were all held during Boo Boo Days.
Amidst much debate, in 1978 the name was officially changed to “Windmill City Fest.” The change was meant to reflect both Batavia’s past and the future of the event.
According to Ron Hubbard, Retail Chairman, in a 1978 newspaper article: “We want to make the Windmill City Festival more of a festival instead of a sidewalk sale. This name will reflect our heritage and will be more appropriate.”
As predicted, the event has grown considerably since 1978. Today, the city of Batavia and Batavia Park District have joined the Chamber of Commerce in planning this multi-day event, and it welcomes 13,000 visitors each year.
This year, in 2018, Windmill City Fest will be held Friday July 13 through Sunday July 15. You can join the fun at Batavia’s Riverwalk at Houston and Island Avenue.
Windmill City Fest will feature a lineup of bands, food vendors, an inflatable fun zone, ice cream eating contest, Craft and Vintage Market and more!
Don’t forget to stop by the Depot Museum, as well. We’ll be open from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. and from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and from noon to 4 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. For full details of 2018 Windmill City Fest, visit https://www.windmillcityfest.org/
About the Batavia Depot Museum
The Batavia Depot Museum opened in 1975 as a partnership between the Batavia Park District and the Batavia Historical Society. The Chicago Burlington and Quincy Railroad Depot was the first of its kind built in 1854, and is recognized on the National Register of Historic Places.
Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place.
Inside, the city’s past comes alive through exhibits detailing the history of rail transportation, manufacture of windmills, agriculture, banking, commerce and a brief stay by Mary Todd Lincoln at Bellevue Place. Summer Hours (June through August) are from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday, Wednesday, Friday and noon to 4 p.m. Sunday.
Read The Kane County History Series!
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- St. Charles Museum Site — From Serving Gas To Preserving History
- Elgin Puts 3,500 Priceless Photos Online
- Batavia-Inspired Miniatures Thrilled a Nation
- Aurora’s Maud Powell, World Famous Violinist
- Waxing Nostalgic on Geneva’s WGSB, WFXW
- American Doughboys of WWI — in St. Charles, IL
- Experience High-Tech History at April 21 ‘Open Elgin’ Event
- Batavia, IL — ‘Windmill Capital of The World’
- Meet Andy Aurora, Man About Town
- Celebrating The 50th Anniversary of 9-1-1 in Geneva
- Blue Goose And Evergreen Pub — ‘Shop Local’ 90 Years In The Making
- Elgin Is The Apple of Illinois Bicentennial’s Eye
- Nordens Soner And Batavia’s Swedish Society
- Aurora’s Melting Pot ‘Yearning To Breathe Free’
- Candles, Timing Devices, Phonographs And The ‘Life Cup’ — All Things Made in Geneva
- Hotel Baker, The ‘Masterpiece’ of The Fox Valley
- Elgin Celebrates Our Once-Burgeoning Dairy Business
- Reflections of Batavia’s Quarry Beach Pool
- Aurora’s Mabel O’Donnell, Author of “Alice And Jerry’ Books
- As Alice (Davis) Says, ‘Schools Out For Summer!’
- Elgin Watches” ‘The World’s Standard’