LA GRANGE – DIY artists from La Grange to Washington state will feature their work at the 44th annual La Grange Craft Fair.
Due to demands from shoppers and crafters, the fair will be three days long this year – instead of the usual two-day event – and is set to take place July 12 through 14.
More than 200 artists have signed up to participate. Nancy Cummings, executive director of the La Grange Business Association, believes this year’s turnout will be among the largest the village has seen.
“[The fair] does a lot to showcase so many handmade artists,” Cummings said. “There’s definitely a resurgence in the ‘do it yourself’ industry.”
While the term “craft” may induce throwback memories of letter-bead bracelets, crocheted scarves and finger-painted masterpieces, Cummings said the fair generally attracts artists whose work is advanced and offers unique flair.
Dorn Cheske is one of those artists. She and her boyfriend, Nick Koclanes, travel the world each year in search of vintage items to create jewelry, cufflinks and pendants. In the past, she said they have repurposed items from crystal chandeliers to cutlery and pre-Euro coins to pearl-draped wedding dresses.
“We recycle everything,” Cheske said. “You’ll never want to invite us to your house for dinner because we’ll end up wanting to repurpose it.”
The fair also will feature creatives such as Brian Horan, a local photographer whose “purist” photography values influence the way he edits and presents his work.
His main body of work is called his “nostalgic series.” In the series, Horan photographs scenes that feature some aspect of the past – diners, old cars or theater marquees – and removes the color from everything but the subject.
“Nine years ago, when I started the process, everyone was manipulating photos through digital means,” Horan said. “I was not comfortable with that as a photographer. I’ve always looked at what I do as a means to show you what I saw, and in doing what I’m doing, I’m still maintaining that.”
This year will be Horan’s sixth at the fair, which he attributes to its location and overall success as an event.
“The crowds are always good, and I’ve never had even a bad show,” he said. “And I live, like, three minutes from the show site. It’s my neighborhood show. I’ve had exhibits in 12 states, but when you have a show you can do well at – a show so close to your house – it’s great.”
As the second-longest-running event in La Grange – topped only by the La Grange Pet Parade – Cummings said the fair’s longevity demonstrates the village’s investment in the arts.
“It’s a testament to how respected and vibrant the local arts scene is because of the success of the fair,” Cummings said. “La Grange is a community that embraces the arts and to experiment and create on their own.”
Karen Yackley of Craft Productions Inc., the show’s promoter, said millennials are looking for artisan items that are recycled, repurposed, vintage, sustainable and customized. Some of the top national crafting hot items that visitors will see at the La Grange show include authentic home decor made from reclaimed materials, cut books and upcycled items.
Many local businesses will feature special offers and creative activities throughout the weekend. Details are available at LagrangeEvents.com.
The craft fair is held with the support of the village of La Grange and sponsored by Chiro One Wellness Centers.
If you go
What: La Grange Craft Fair
When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. July 12-14
Where: Downtown La Grange. La Grange Road from Cossitt Avenue to Burlington Avenue and Harris Avenue from La Grange Road to Ashland Avenue
Admission: Free. Free shuttle services will be available on Saturday and Sunday from the Lyons Township High School North Campus’ parking lot to downtown La Grange.