Vendors are being lined up for what organizers hope will become a signature event in Forest Park, rivaling the annual Summer Fest and St. Patrick’s Day Parade that draw hundreds of onlookers to the community.
The Main Street Redevelopment Association is soliciting applications from area artists for its first annual art festival, a two-day event scheduled for the weekend of Sept. 29. Kathleen Hanrahan, assistant director of Main Street, is counting on a field of 75 artists to serve as the main attraction for the event. Meanwhile, family-oriented activities will entertain the masses while they browse, Hanrahan said.
A driving factor in the organization and marketing of the festival is the desire to pull in residents from the city, neighboring suburbs and beyond.
“We’re really trying to get out there,” Hanrahan said. “This [event] will really be more aggressive in getting people from out of town into Forest Park.”
The First Annual Forest Park Art Fest, as it’s titled, is debuting in place of the Trick-or-Treat on Madison program, which was nixed last September after eight years. The art festival will appeal to a broader range of people than the trick-or-treating did, Hanrahan said, and bolsters the community’s image as an eclectic marketplace.
David Manola is the owner of the Boulevard Fine Arts gallery and a primary sponsor of the event. Before moving his business to Forest Park, Manola spent years trying to organize a similar event in neighboring Oak Park, but to no avail, he said. Forest Park’s festival has come together fairly quickly, Manola said, and is drawing a response from respected members of the art community.
Part of the Forest Park Art Fest’s credibility comes from having RGL Marketing for the Arts onboard. RGL Marketing is responsible for the annual Art in the Park festival in Elmhurst, which takes place this year on May 5 and 6. That event will feature 110 artists and is in its 11th year.
According to Manola, handfuls of artists from the Elmhurst show are expected in Forest Park this fall, and colleagues from Naperville have contacted him about the festival.
“There’s a couple times a year that people seem to come to Forest Park and hang out for the day,” Manola said. “I’m hoping the art fair becomes another of those events.”
There is an application process for artists interested in Forest Park’s inaugural event and a jury panel will decide who gets to participate. Roz Long, of RGL Marketing, said it’s important to the artists who sign up that there is some consistency in the caliber of artwork.
“If you open it up to everyone you’re probably going to have a fine artist who does $1,000 or $2,000 paintings next to someone who knits doilies for $2,” Long said. “It’s happened and you’ll never see the fine artist again.”
There will not be any vendors selling food, and alcohol will not be permitted in the street, Hanrahan said. Madison Street will be closed between Burkhardt Court and Hannah Avenue to accommodate the event.