Waukegan’s annual Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Fine Arts Festival will be held Aug. 20 in Waukegan. (Dan Moran / News-Sun )
People can round out the summer with a dose of literacy and history.
The Waukegan Park District is celebrating Ray Bradbury with the Ray Bradbury Dandelion Wine Arts and Music Festival from 12 to 4 p.m. Aug. 20 at Bowen Park. A Literary Walk will be from 6 to 8 p.m.
The first fest was held in 1999. The festival has not been held since 2019.
Angela Marcum, cultural arts specialist, is the coordinator of the festival this year.
“It’s been really exciting because I’ve been able to put my own personal touches on it,” she said. “One of my missions is diversity and to try to bring artists in from different cultures. So we are having performers that have never been there before from our Black History event.”
Zion Ari will be the headliner. Ari performed at the first Black History event held at the Jack Benny Center, Marcum said. She also found singer Juiette Payne at that event.
“We’re also trying to use some local vendors that have not been used before as well. There’s an African-American owned popcorn vendor. His store is Gordon’s Gourmet Popcorn Shop. It’s been really neat trying to connect the community through this festival.”
Blues Family Robinson and Crooked Moon will also perform. Jeff Jasmine will play acoustically inside at the Schornick Theater.
“One of our new acoustic groups is called Funnology. Funnology is a string quartet and they play Queen and Lady Gaga and really cool stuff. It’s really fun music,” she said. “All four players are teachers at the Jack Benny Center.”
Published children’s author Gary Moore will read from his series, “What Daddy Do.” Other children’s authors will read excerpts from their work, as well.
“We’ll have a whole children’s section with arts in the park, craft ideas and some art in the gardening craft as well,” she said. “We’re also having over 30 art vendors that people can (peruse) and we’re having three food trucks. There will be food available for people and music and they can walk along and explore the art vendors.”
The free festival aims to celebrate Waukegan’s favorite son, Ray Bradbury, she said.
“It’s really dedicated to making sure local and regional artists are showcased. We’re trying to inject the arts into the community in a really positive way.”
The literary walk will be held in downtown Waukegan, she said.
“There will be many performances at different spots,” she said. That can include anything from acting or a puppet show or spoken word, she said, all celebrating Ray Bradbury.
Educating the public on who Ray Bradbury was and his legacy remains a vital mission, she said.
“I think keeping his name alive and his contribution to the area is really important,” she said. “Especially because the Carnegie Museum is beginning renovations this fall to open for the public next summer and it’s a huge project endeavor that the park district has taken on. The Carnegie Museum was the library that Ray Bradbury went to as a child and that is what started his love of reading and writing.”
“Dandelion Wine” was one of Bradbury’s most well-known works, along with “Fahrenheit 451.” He lived in Waukegan off and on until he was about 14 years old, when the family moved to California. Upon his death in 2012, his personal library was willed to the Waukegan Public Library.
Marcum, who has degrees in theater, directed a radio play of Bradbury’s “Zero Hour,” she said. It’s still a personal favorite of hers.
“It seems many actors love being a part of it,” she said.
While wine was sold at the 2019 Dandelion Wine fest, no alcohol will be sold, for this year at least.
“I look for it to really grow again and come back stronger than ever in the next few years,” she said. “Because so many people are reaching out and wanting to be a part of it.”
Scheduling conflicts forced the fest to move to August this year but she envisions it might move back to June in the future.
People should put this on the calendar because it’s a chance to support local artists and to connect with fellow Waukegans, she said.
“I think we’re just trying to put such positivity into the community and there’s no better time than now to do that.”
Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine Arts and Music Festival
When: 12-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Aug. 20
Where: Jack Benny Center for Cultural Art, Bowen Park, 1800 N. Sheridan Road, Waukegan
Tickets: Free
Information: 847-360-4740; waukeganparks.org/dandelion
Annie Alleman is a freelance reporter for the News-Sun.
Copyright © 2022, Chicago Tribune
Copyright © 2022, Chicago Tribune

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