Walworth County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Nelson and Jean Jacobs, a case manager for the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center, review the final vendor list for this year’s National Night Out event. The free event will be held 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 3, at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn. (Heather Ruenz photo)

National Night Out to feature demos, kids’ activities and more

By Heather Ruenz

Staff Writer

The organizers behind one of the larger National Night Out events in the area are in the final stages of preparation for this year’s gathering and they said they hope it’ll be a night to remember for all involved.

Walworth County Sheriff’s Deputy Dan Nelson and Jean Jacobs, a case manager for the Walworth County Child Advocacy Center, each used to head separate events – Nelson, National Night Out; Jacobs, the Tree House Safety Fair – but have since teamed up.

“We realized we could work together and make it one big event and it’s worked out great,” Jacobs said.

So much to see

The event, which will be held 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., Tuesday, Aug. 3, at the Walworth County Fairgrounds in Elkhorn, will feature police cars, fire trucks, tow trucks, water safety patrol boats, demonstrations and a variety of resources for families. But that’s just the beginning.

“There will be face painting, free haircuts, games, a safety archery shoot by the Department of Natural Resources, and representatives and animals from Lakeland Animal Shelter,” Nelson said.

A dunk tank will be on site in a partnership with the Lake Geneva Swim Club and will feature not only area law enforcement staff volunteering for the “wet” seat but also their families.

“And, we have a unicorn coming this year from Claystone Farms, which will allow a great photo opportunity for kids,” Jacobs said.

The vendors have been in the North Hall in the past but this year will be outside in the Midway area at the fairgrounds.

“The most important thing is that everything is free – there’s no cost to get in, eat food, see demos and have a chance to win something,” Nelson said.

Speaking of giveaways, there will be 10 bikes given away this year – five each donated by Walmart and GMC Construction and Painting; and a certificate for two to zipline at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours.

“Each child will receive a swag bag and in the bag will be a free coupon to enter the giveaway drawing,” Jacobs said.

Among the highlights for guests will be K-9, taser and “Shoot, Don’t Shoot” demonstrations as well as the Smoke House (courtesy of the Fire Chiefs of Walworth County) and Flight For Life (weather dependent.)

Nelson said one of his favorite parts is “Shoot, Don’t Shoot,” because it offers volunteers an opportunity “to see how hard it is to determine what people are holding in several different scenarios.”

The free dinner will consist of hot dogs, brats, chips and water.

 A team effort

Jacobs and Nelson said being part of National Night Out is an honor.

Jacobs said she enjoys seeing all of the Walworth County service workers and organizations together in one place for a few hours each year.

“I love seeing children and families ‘meet and greet’ with local service providers, law enforcement and emergency professional. The environment walking around the event is safe, uplifting, caring and most importantly, fun,” she said.

Jacobs said the initial planning committee goals were to showcase the importance of police-community partnerships, citizen involvement and child and family safety and awareness, which they’ve more than achieved.

“I think over the years we have nailed it. I am very proud to be a part of this event! It goes to show how much people care about each other and our community. Who wouldn’t be proud,” she said.

Nelson said he enjoys walking around at the event and seeing how it all comes together.

“The kids are having fun, the parents and grandparents are having fun, but the ones having the most fun are the police, fire, EMS and all the other participants who are thrilled to be a part of this amazing event. Those four hours remind us why we do what we do and how lucky we are to have the support we do here in Walworth County,” he said.

Nelson said being part of the planning committee is rewarding and each year he looks forward to the meetings and working with all the officers and business members who are part of it.

“This being our sixth year. Everyone knows what to do and things are getting done quickly and efficiently. I get way too much credit for co-chairing this event but truly appreciate everyone’s efforts that have helped make National Night Out what it has become,” Nelson said.

“Also, I’d like to thank all of the police departments for allowing their officers to be part of it,” he added.

Sponsors provide everything from money to products to items being given away and Jacobs said they deserve a shout-out.

“We are so blessed. This has been a great year thanks to our sponsors,” she said.

This year’s sponsors include: monetary – gold, Thrivent Financial (Bill Duesterbeck); silver, Advocate Aurora Health and Advia Credit Union; bronze, First National Bank and Trust, Citizens Bank and Exacto, Inc. (Sharon); product – Pepsico, Frank’s Piggly Wiggly, Stinebrinks Piggly Wiggly, Kwik Trip, Purcell Towing, Lake Geneva Country Meats and Lamar Advertising; giveaways – Wal Mart – bikes, GMC Construction and Painting (Ben McMasters) – bikes; Lake Geneva Canopy Tours – Zip Lining for two.

DJ Felix not only helps provide sound for the demonstrations but also music in between.

“He’s great and always goes above and beyond for us,” Jacobs said of the DJ.

Parking for National Night Out will be available in the lot across from the main gate of the fairgrounds, 411 E. Court St., Elkhorn. There will be crosswalk helpers making sure guests can safely cross the street.

The night will come to a close with a special display.

“At 8:30, all the vehicles’ lights come on for a special send-off,” Nelson said. “It’s the perfect way to end it.”

For more information, call 262-741-2200 or like and follow the National Night Out – Walworth County page on Facebook.


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