As of late, Forest Park is becoming the social and cultural center of the western suburbs.

On Sept. 26 and 27, the annual Arts Fest will take place on the 7300 and 7400 blocks of Madison, near Constitution Court. As part of the fest, Centuries & Sleuths will present author and artist of two Chicago thrillers, Tim Broderick. Tim’s works include Something to Build Upon and Cash and Carry. He will be at the bookstore Friday from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m. and Sunday from noon until 2 p.m. Tim will show those in attendance how to illustrate their ideas in comic book format.

At 2 p.m. on Sunday, Tim will cross the street to The Old School Records to sit in on a book discussion and signing by three local authors. Those local authors are Stephanie Kuehnert, Billy Lombardo and Donald G. Evans. Kuehnert is the author of I Wanna be your Joey Ramone and Ballads of Suburbia. Lombardo will discuss and sign his books, Logic of the Rose and How to Hold a Woman. Evans will discuss Good Money after Bad.

Later in the season, on Oct. 21, Edgar Allen Poe grabs the spotlight. In cooperation with the libraries of Forest Park, Oak Park and River Forest, as well as House Red, Poe will be the final piece of a bicentennial celebration. The man made mystery, terror and horror in fiction what it is today. August Aleksy, from Centuries and Sleuths, 7419 Madison, plays host to the event with commentaries from local authors whose books will be available for purchase. Bob Goldsborough, A President in Peril, Mary Welk, Rune Stone Murders, Luisa Buehler, The Innkeeper and Michael Black, Hostile Takeovers, will be featured. Augie will even pop open a Cask of Amontillado, and perhaps allow us to take a sip of that infamous beverage. But he will not brick us up into the wall. That is a promise, as he needs the customers.

Don’t go too far after the Poe celebration because that Friday, Oct. 23 and Saturday, Oct. 24 at 8 p.m., the Meeting of Minds XVI will take place at C&S. Admission to these performances is $10 and should be paid when making reservations. The space is limited to 30 persons, so get your money in as soon as possible. These programs are very popular and fill up quickly.

The annual blessing of the animals will take place Sunday, Oct. 4 at 12:30 p.m. The place: Saint Paul’s Church, 7416 Dixon. Everyone is welcome and is asked to bring a chair, a blanket, a dog, a cat, a bird, iguana, hamster, or whatever. But do not feel you must bring an animal. Spectators are welcome, too. Call 366-7443 for more information.

Celebrating birthdays this week are Caryn Lichtenberg, Lou Thompson, Jason Almeroth, Laura Zimmer, Lorian Menhennett, Sydney Mangiaacina, Roy Sansone, Michael Clifton, Kimberly O’Shea, Abigail Childs, Pat Falbo, Sawyer Paeth and Rachel Riske. Anniversary greetings to Dan and Donna Danielson, and Connie and Ted Considine. Belated happy birthday to Gene Fletcher and Joseph Peterson.