July 16, 2014 – Anna Ortiz
The temperatures didn’t reflect the Caribbean island music Wednesday as the Festival of the Lakes opened in Hammond.
Cool breezes wafted through the crowd along with blues and reggae music as youngsters lined up for carnival rides along the Midway.
The 11th annual Festival of the Lakes has more rides, more food and what some festival organizers are saying is the best musical entertainment yet.
“This year is the strongest lineup for entertainment we have had,” Pat Moore, director of the Hammond Parks and Recreation Department, said. “We are starting to get a reputation in the entertainment industry, so we are able to get more acts out here.”
Last year, the festival attracted 50,000 people, along with musical acts such as L.L. Cool J, Lifehouse and Smokey Robinson.
Michelle Turchany, Hammond special events coordinator, said this year they went with reggae, a genre they haven’t showcased at the fest before.
In step with the theme, famous Jamaican reggae musician Jimmy Cliff headlined for opening night.
This year’s headlining artists include Sublime with Rome, Sugar Ray, Uncle Kracker, Blues Traveler, Big and Rich and Banda Los Recoditos.
There will be 14 musical acts during each of the four days, and all concerts begin at 7 p.m.
The festival offers carnival rides, free pontoon rides, a beer garden, food vendors, fireworks, games and live entertainment during its four days.
“The Festival of the Lakes is more than just music,” Turchany said. “There’s so many other events, from taking the little guys fishing to a polka day.”
Turchany said the number of attendees has grown alongside the number of event attractions.
“It seems we get more and more people coming out here every year,” Turchany said. “I think it’s good for the community. Even though it does cost the city money, it’s also a sponsored event, everyone looks forward to this one week in July. This fest goes hand in hand with the city.”