SAVOY — A brand-new festival is coming to Savoy next spring, and it will include an evening 5K run on a lighted runway at Willard Airport.
To be called the Human Festival of Savoy, it will debut May 30 and feature an afternoon of recreational and athletic activities scattered throughout Savoy as well as an evening party at the airport.
Local photographer and festival organizer Larry Kanfer said the point is to bring people together for a day and evening of fun and to celebrate a great community some folks consider just a pass-through on the way to a movie, the airport or Walmart.
For a town of its size, Savoy has an amazing number of athletic and recreational spots, he said — among them the Savoy Recreation Center and places to bowl, skate, play mini golf and laser tag and learn tae kwon do.
“And so I was kind of thinking: What if we tie the community together by going to these places and competing with each other and having fun together recreating?” he said.
Included in the plans will be free admission during the afternoon to several Savoy businesses offering recreational and athletic activities, Kanfer said.
The evening party will be housed in the large Flightstar hangar at the airport, with live music, dancing, outdoor food trucks and activities for kids, a fun run for kids and the 5K run, he said.
Other than food purchases and the 5K run, which will have an entry fee, the activities will be free, according to Kanfer.
“We’re a community of people, and we’re connecting everyone together,” he said.
That’s a big part of this festival for Kanfer, who said he’s seen the declining face-to-face interaction between people these days as a root cause of a lot of society’s troubles.
“We miss that human touch,” he said.
Willard Airport Executive Director Tim Bannon said a 5K runway run has been something the airport has been wanting to offer for some time, and collaborating with the festival planners created an opportunity to make it happen.
Activities such as these are a great way to bring the public out to the airport, Bannon said.
Runners like flat surfaces, he said, and the airport is a great place to run.
“We have a lot of pavement,” he said.
The run course will include part of a secondary runway that will be closed down for a couple of hours, plus taxiways and ramps, Bannon said.
The airport will also remain open for business that evening, so it’s possible families coming to the party and race will see flights taking off and landing on the main commercial runway, he said.
Mike Lindemann, co-owner of Savoy’s Body N’ Sole Sports, said he’s intrigued with the idea for this festival and is helping with the 5K run planning.
“Airport runs are getting very popular now,” he said.
The festival planning committee has been at work for months, Lindemann said.
“If it all comes together, I think it will really be a cool thing,” he said.
Savoy village President Joan Dykstra said she’s grateful to the group planning this event, and for her, the most interesting part is the 5K runway run.
It’s something new for runners in this area, she said, and, she projected, “it will attract a ton of runners.”
Kanfer is a newer resident of Savoy who’s hit the ground running, Dykstra said.
“He’s brand-new to Savoy and he’s trying to create an event that’s going to be sustainable and successful,” she said.
Rebecca Powers, co-owner of the new Industrial Donut shop in Savoy, said this event has potential for its inaugural year and an opportunity to grow larger in future years. And she believes it can be a community draw.
“I think that’s exactly what this event will do is it’s going to bring people from not just Savoy but all around,” she said.
An airport 5K run is an event more common in larger cities, Powers said.
“I’ve never been to an after-party at a hangar, but I think it’s going to be pretty awesome,” she said.