It seems like this summer every block of every downtown in Chicagoland, large and small, will at some point be lined with booths offering all manner of decorative, collectible, hand-crafted, painted, sculpted, and otherwise artsy goods. Art fairs give us yet another reason to amble outdoors and make the most of our limited good weather. The fairs are a nice thing to stumble upon while out for a weekend drive or stroll through town, but for those who’d like to mark their calendars, here’s a selection of local destination fairs and festivals coming up this summer.
57th Street Art Fair
June 4 & 5
57th St. and Dorchester Ave., Hyde Park
The 57th Street Art Fair is Chicago’s oldest juried art fair, featuring art in a variety of mediums, with hands-on activities and a playground for kids, and an Art Buying Boot Camp for those looking to start building their collection.
Old Town Art Fair
June 11 & 12
Lincoln Ave. and Wisconsin St., Lincoln Park
The historic Old Town Triangle District hosts this popular annual fair, where 260 artists set up shop with paintings, sculpture, photography, jewelry and more. Food and rink vendors, live music and a garden walk are all part of the weekend program.
Custer’s Last Stand Festival of the Arts
June 18 & 19
Chicago Ave. and Main St., Evanston
No, it’s not a recreation of the Battle of the Little Bighorn. The Evanston version of Custer’s Last Stand is an arts fest that features 250 juried artists and 150 local businesses hosting a sidewalk sale along with over thirty food vendors. There is also an “eco-village” area, a theatre festival with street performers and stage shows, and three stages of music, including a Native American Pow-Wow.
Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival
1000 Lake Cook Rd., Glencoe
For those whose holiday weekend plans are a little light, consider penciling in the first annual Chicago Botanic Garden Art Festival. Eighty artists will offer work based on botanical themes and materials on the Garden’s Esplanade.
Chicago Tribune North Michigan Avenue Art Festival
Pioneer Court, 435 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago
This year marks the 20th anniversary of this bustling downtown art fest, held at Pioneer Court. The juried festival will feature around 200 artists exhibiting high-quality work, along with live music performances daily.
Gold Coast Art Fair
July 9 & 10
Monroe & Lake Shore Dr., Chicago
One of the oldest art fairs in Chicago, the 54th Annual Gold Coast Art Fair will take place at Grant Park’s Butler Field. Nearly 400 exhibitors are scheduled, ensuring a very wide variety of artwork to peruse. Early bird bargain hunters take note: select artists will discount their work from 9:00 to 10:00 a.m. each day.
Geneva Fine Arts Fair
July 23 & 24
8 S. Third St., Geneva
Voted “Best Craft or Art Show” by West Suburban Living magazine, the Geneva Arts Fair showcases over 150 artists, and provides a fine excuse to visit the very quaint downtown Geneva. Photography, pottery, fiber, printmaking, glass, painting, mixed media, wood, sculpture and jewelry are all part of the show.
Bucktown Arts Fest
August 27 & 28
Oakdale Ave & Lyndale St., Bucktown
Senior Citizens Memorial Park is the site of the all-volunteer Bucktown Arts Fest 2011. The fest encompasses a wide variety of arts, including visual art, poetry, theatre, dance, and film, with 200 participating artists, as well as food vendors and children’s programming.
Oakbrook Center Invitational Fine Art Exhibition
September 3 & 4
100 Oakbrook Center, Oak Brook
Now nearly 50 years old, this art fair is a welcome and unique diversion for Labor Day weekend shoppers at the sprawling Oakbrook Center. More than 150 artists will display work in watercolor, pastel, acrylic, photography, oil, pottery, sculpture and mixed media at various locations on the center’s grounds.
Park Forest Art Fair
Village Green, downtown Park Forest
As the season winds down, the town of Park Forest stages its 55th art fair, with approximately 100 artists from around the country. Expect a variety of jewelry, glass, fabric, wood, metal, watercolors and acrylics, along with live music and children’s activities.
Greg Wahl is a Chicagoan, a freelancer, a grad student, and a seeker of all things awesome & interesting throughout the city and beyond.