For the latest in our “Great Parks!” series, contributor Dawn Santucci tells about an Elgin park with a riverside setting, spray fountains and more.
Name and address/location of the park and what park system it belongs to:
Festival Park is located at 132 South Grove Ave. in downtown Elgin, on the east side of the Fox River. It is owned and operated by the city of Elgin. The park is open sunrise to sunset. The spray fountain is open 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days (weather permitting).
Q. Is the parking nearby?
Yes, there is a fairly large parking lot just to the north of the park (off Prairie Street.) and there is a ton of street parking along Grove Street.
Q. Can you describe the playground? Anything special it offers?
Festival Park is part open space/nature, part playground, and part spray park. The park lies
along the Fox River just north of the Grand Victoria Riverboat casino. It is a well-maintained and beautiful park. There is not a lot of play equipment and it does not have a traditional playground (meaning no slides or swings). It has a large rope climbing structure in the center (that contains a trampoline type thing in the middle); there is also a see-saw, a smaller plastic climbing area, and several musical instruments. There are many concrete balls around the park. I am not certain if they were put there to be climbed, but of course children love climbing them. Just to the north of the playground is the splash fountain. It is a cement water fountain that sprays water up from the
concrete floor in different patterns. There are various concerts and events held at the park throughout the year.
Q. What type of playground surface? Cushion, mulch, sand, etc?
The surface of the playground is cushion. The surface of the spray fountain is concrete.
Q. Is there a separate playground for toddlers?
Q. Is there a paved trail or path good for walking or riding bikes and scooters?
Yes there is a nice paved trail right along the Fox River. There were lots of hungry ducks waiting by the edge of the river for food. There is also a fishing pier.
Q. What was your child’s favorite part of the park? Least favorite?
My 7 year old daughter loves the trampoline type thing in the middle of the rope climb. My 2 year old son loves to step on the musical pad on the floor. My daughter wishes there was more park equipment there, and if my son could answer this question I bet he would wish for slides and swings.
Q. What was your favorite part? Least favorite?
It is a beautiful setting and a fun (free!) place to get wet. The only thing that would make it better, in my opinion, is if it had a few more pieces of play equipment at the playground.
Q. Does it seem like a park that might be especially crowded at certain times of
I imagine at peak times (warm weekends) it can get very crowded, especially the water area. We arrived just before noon on a Tuesday and there was hardly anyone there, but it became increa
singly more crowded during the next hour. At one point it seemed like a camp came to the fountain area because there were a lot of people wearing the same colored shirts. It never became unbearably crowded, but I would guess during events or other peak times it could.
Q. Are there public bathrooms? Is it indoor plumbing or a port-a-potty?
There is a building with bathrooms. I did not go in them, but I would guess that they have changing tables. They had men, women, and family restrooms as well as drinking fountains. Note: The bathrooms are only open when the spray fountain is in operation.
Q. Is there shade over the playground? Is there shade for a picnic?
There is plenty of shade that can be found at this park (plenty of sun too if that is your preference). They have benches scattered throughout, some are in the sun and some are in the shade, but the play areas themselves are not shaded. There were a few park picnic tables near the bathroom. The south section of the park is a large, open field. While there is not much shade in this field, there is plenty of room to spread out a picnic blanket.
Q, What ages to you feel this park is best for?
There is not a ton of play equipment at this park and most of what is there is fine for all ages, although the large climbing structure in the middle is probably better for kids who are a little older. The splash fountain is great for all ages. I saw teenagers and adults playing in it on my visit, and of course the little ones love it.
Q. Can you describe your family’s experience a bit?
We visited on a beautiful and sunny summer day; it was warm but not unbearably hot. My kids went
back and forth between the playground and the fountain. We also spent some time at the river watching the ducks and took a short stroll along the path. We stayed a little over an hour. They could have been entertained by the park for quite a bit longer but we needed to eat and my youngest needed to nap. It was not our first time at Festival Park and probably will not be our last.
About the author: Dawn lives in St. Charles with her husband and two children.