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La Grange's West End Arts Festival to entertain with art, jazz, wine

Tara Vergara and her niece Melia Merjudio, both of La Grange Park, take a look at aprons created by James Sharp during the 2017 West End Arts Festival in La Grange.
Tara Vergara and her niece Melia Merjudio, both of La Grange Park, take a look at aprons created by James Sharp during the 2017 West End Arts Festival in La Grange.

LA GRANGE – La Grange’s west end will come alive with live music, fine art, culinary demonstrations and wine during the annual West End Arts Festival on Sept. 8 and 9.

The free event is celebrating its 23rd year of bringing some of the Midwest’s finest artists to La Grange for the end-of-summer tradition that attracts thousands of visitors from the Chicago area.

More than 50 juried artists will have jewelry, ceramics, oil paintings and much more on display and for sale. Nancy Cummings, executive director of the La Grange Business Association, which sponsors the festival, said many of the artists are well-known, returning favorites, in addition to many new ones.

“This is a beautiful setting, and with the historic [Stone Avenue Metra station], it’s very park like,” she said. “We’ve added a lot of different art. We’ve had fine art for many years, but we’ve added culinary art from well-known local chefs, and we’ll have live jazz both days.”

Guests not only can browse finished pieces, but also see art being created. A group of students from Park Junior High School in La Grange will be putting the finishing touches on their mural on the side wall of Smothers Realty on Hillgrove Avenue.

Zenia McBride, a local artist and recently retired art teacher at Park Junior High, is leading the group of students who are completing the 6-by-32-foot mural, which is a flower garden that was designed by Katie Farley, a seventh-grader at Park.

The group has been working on the public art project for a few weeks, but McBride said she wanted to keep a portion of it unfinished until the art festival. She said festival organizers asked for her help to get the community more involved with the event.

“[The painting] is really beautiful. We’ve had students, parents and senior citizens get involved,” McBride said. “It’s important to bring public art into the community, and we hope to do more [art projects]. Art brings smiles, happiness, good messages and awareness. We’ve gotten so much positive feedback, and it’s truly been a joy to work on.”

The Park District of La Grange is sponsoring the kids’ art tent from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 8 and 9, where children can create sidewalk chalk art, make jewelry and get their faces painted. All the activities are free.

“This is a big community event, and we always like to partner with the LGBA,” said Kevin Miller, superintendent of recreation at the Park District of La Grange. “This is a good way to give back to the community and to let people know that the Park District provides art programs. We love to work with kids and families.”

Returning this year is the Art of Wine tent, where guests can sample some of the more than 40 varieties of wine and learn about the art of winemaking from a sommelier, who also will give talks about wine trends and the pairing of wine with different foods.

Several local chefs will be showing off their skills in the Art of Food tent. Some of the participants who will give culinary demonstrations include Terry Rempert of La Buona Vita, Allison Muscolino of Clever Fig, Vikram Singh of Kama Bistro and many more.

Beer, wine and food from several local vendors also will be available for sale at the festival.

The festival will be filled with the sounds of live jazz music in the Art of Music tent from a variety of local and regional performers, including the renowned Elmhurst College Jazz Band at 7 p.m. Sept. 8.

The 30 hand-painted “Live Love La Grange” love seats that dotted the village this summer will be up for auction at 6 p.m. Sept. 8. All of the proceeds will benefit local nonprofit organizations, including Pet Parade Charities.

“People can own a piece of La Grange history,” Cummings said. “This event showcases a very vibrant art community in La Grange. People can come to the west end and see how charming and attractive it is.”


If you go

WHAT: West End Arts Festival

WHEN: 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sept. 8 and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 9

WHERE: near Stone Avenue Metra station along Burlington Avenue between Brainard and Waiola avenues, La Grange

COST: Free


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