When I was kid, I counted down to the end of the school year and the opening of the pool, eager to trade in my textbooks for all the novels I wanted to read during those dreaded rest periods when the adults got to swim.
Summer lost its magic after high school when it no longer meant extended vacation time. But something about living in Forest Park – the town with the swimming pool that I always envied as an Oak Park kid – has brought that magic back. A ripple of childlike excitement ran through me as soon as I noticed the SummerFest banners on Madison Street. I turned to my husband and said two words: “Giant slide.”
I’ve been pumped for summer since March – and not just because I was so sick of winter. That’s when I heard that we were going to have a farmers’ market in town once again. It truly saddened me to see Forest Park go without one because fresh, locally grown produce is one of the best things about summer. I hope that the farmers’ market gets a lot of support this year and becomes a fixture in our community. It will be held every other Friday from 3:30 to 7:30 p.m. in the Howard Mohr Community Center parking lot, beginning Friday, June 4. I’ll be stopping there on my way to SummerFest and encourage you to do the same.
Aside from the giant slide, the thing I’m looking forward to most at SummerFest is the massive sale that The Old School Records always has. Also, although there are beer tents aplenty at SummerFest, if you’re a mixed-drink person like me, I recommend popping into Francesca’s. Every year I’ve gone, they’ve had a delicious and inexpensive cocktail, which they serve in a plastic cup, so you can rejoin the outdoor festivities.
You’ll want to stop by the Forest Park Public Library’s table to enter to win free Ravinia tickets and find out about their summer reading program. This year’s theme for kids and teens is “Scare Up a Good Book.” Readers can sign up as ghosts, monsters, or zombies, depending on their age and reading level. “All You Can Read” is the theme for adults. The library will have food and drink-focused programming throughout the summer and when you complete “summer reading menus,” you’ll be entered to win gift certificates to local restaurants. The registration kickoff event is Saturday, June 5, at the library and there’s a free ice cream sundae bar from noon to 2 p.m. So take off from SummerFest for a bit and check it out.
You’ll also find an interesting flier at the library or their SummerFest table. Its tagline reads: “Fabulous Prizes. Good Beer. No Shushing.” What does this mean? Two of the Forest Park Public Library librarians, Ben and Kate, have joined forces with me to bring a monthly trivia night to Forest Park for people 21 and older. It starts on Wednesday, June 9, at 8 p.m. at the Beacon Pub. I’ll be serving up drinks while the librarians are in our beer garden doing the quizzing. Want to prove how knowledgeable you are and win prizes while enjoying a cocktail or Midwestern microbrew? Then join us! Bring friends to form a team or come to make new, smarter friends. We’ll be running Trivia Night the second Wednesday of every month. Help us make it a success.
I’m sure that by August I’ll be sweating and complaining and putting together a column about which Forest Park businesses have the best air conditioning. But right now, I couldn’t be more excited for summer!
Stephanie is the author of “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone” and “Ballads of Suburbia.” She’s a proud Forest Parker who holds a master’s in fine arts degree from Columbia College Chicago. She also works locally at the Beacon Pub and loves to hear from people through her Web site www.stephaniekuehnert.com.