During the 2018 Channahon Three Rivers Festival, net proceeds, which went to local organizations who worked the festival surpassed the $1 million mark. The festival theme “Thanks a Million” was a tribute to the generosity of the community in which the festival has served for 30 years.
“It’s neat that we met that milestone on the 30th anniversary of the festival,” co-chairman Mike Rittof said. “This year the theme was dual fitting, we want to offer thanks to the community for all of the support over the years, and thanks to our sponsors who have generously supported us.”
Fred Church co-chaired the event with Rittof. They have been co-chairmen since the festival’s inception. Rittof said this year pulled in $77,000 in sponsor donations.
“I used to be excited when we would hit $25,000 in sponsor donations,” Rittof said.
The idea of a hometown festival began in 1973 with the annual Homecoming Event, which was run by the village of Channahon. Rittof said that over time, the hosts of the event changed, and it became too big of a job for one organization. It was decided that a festival could be successful with multiple hosts, and a volunteer committee of community organizations and residents now host the festival.
The majority of the funds went toward beneficiary organizations, which included the Channahon Lions Club, Channahon Pony Baseball and Chanooka Braves Football. Other local organizations apply to work during the festival to earn money as well.
Trevor Markee, president of the Channahon Pony Baseball league, said this year the team and parents helped with the setup, teardown, garbage collection and bartending at the beer garden. The group has used the funds over the years to improve the fields in Channahon.
“We used the money toward repairs to the field and improvements to the field. We have put up brand-new brick back stops, new dugouts, sod and irrigation systems to make sure the grass is watered,” Markee said.
Each year the bands in the beer garden vary, and new events get introduced to the family-friendly festival.
An event that has grown steadily has been the special needs day, which was the morning of Aug. 8. Registered families were welcomed for a free day at the carnival sponsored by the Rotary Clubs of Channahon-Minooka and Joliet. Rittof said 1,170 registered this year for the event.
In 2018, through an anonymous donor as well as Shorewood HUGS and Fantasy Amusement, 300 wristbands were donated for the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization.
“We asked the owner for a discount on 200 wristbands, and he not only agreed, but threw in another 100, on him,” Rittof said.
This five-day event takes over the Channahon Park District Central Park grounds. The smell of fried funnel cakes and corn dogs filled the air.
“We come every year to see people we haven’t seen, ride the rides, and have some carnie food. We eat the corn dogs for sure,” Channahon resident Jason Daniels said.
“The community looks forward to this festival. It’s become a great representation of Channahon, Minooka and the Will County area,” Rittof said of the 30-year event. “When I say I live in Channahon, people will say ‘Oh, we have been to Three Rivers Festival.’ We have secured a great reputation as a family-focused event with something for everyone.”