Lake in the Hills Rockin' Rib Fest bans face coverings not worn for health reasons in 2024

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Tuesday, June 18, 2024
Rockin' Rib Fest bans face coverings for non-health reasons
Lake in the Hills' Rockin' Rib Fest 2024 will not allow face coverings not worn for health reasons, like ski masks or balaclavas, officials said.

LAKE IN THE HILLS, Ill. (WLS) -- For nearly two decades, Rockin' Rib Fest in Lake in the Hills has grown, bringing in almost 20,000 people over the course of the three-day event. But this year there are new restrictions in place for security.

"It is one of the premier festivals in the area. You know we do offer a national act every year on Saturday night," said co-chair Jackie Merritt. "So it's a big, it's a big deal."

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This year, the village is banning face coverings specifically with the intent of concealing a person's identity. Those include ski masks, balaclavas and bandanas.

The Lake in the Hills Police Department said in a statement, "We are seeing a trend locally and nationally of individuals with ill intent utilizing face coverings such as ski masks, balaclavas, or bandanas to hide or disguise their identities."

Masks used for health reasons will be allowed.

"Those people we welcome to our fest. We encourage it. You can sit down, plenty of room to sit and enjoy yourself, but if you're coming in and you're masking yourself for any other reason, you're just not invited," said Merritt.

Police said in April, large crowds gathered at Cabin Fever Carnival and multiple fights broke out. Police said there were people at that event wearing face coverings.

Earlier in June in the south suburbs, Posen shut down a carnival amid chaos that the mayor described as "civil unrest."

"Big picture is, there are things that go on outside Lake in the Hills that we have to be mindful of, and we need to protect our citizens, and I really believe that the police department is doing the best by being proactive this year," Merritt said.

Another change this year is that there will be fencing around the carnival portion of Rockin' Rib Fest, in addition to the fencing around the food and music.

Rockin' Rib Fest is happening July 11-14 at Sunset Park.