After canceling a summer art fair and Chalkfest last month, the Riverside Economic Development Commission has announced that the event will be held Sept. 16 and 17, 2006 at Guthrie Park in downtown Riverside.

According to commission Chair William Kernan, the group chose the September date in order to maximize attendance.

“School is back in session, and we’d really like to get kids to participate,” Kernan said. “This will also give Chicago Special Events time to work out a deal with the Riverside arts community.”

Chicago Special Events is the event management company the village hired in May to pull the event together for a weekend in late August. But Hank Zemola, CEO of Chicago Special Events said there wasn’t enough time to make the event work in 2005. The $7,000 management fee paid to Chicago Special Events by the village and the Riverside Chamber of Commerce will be rolled into next year’s event.

The date change “lessens the competition, certainly,” Zemola said. “September also probably has the best weather. We were supposed to get 50 vendors for the event, and I could see us doubling that number.”

The last time Riverside hosted a village-sponsored art fair was in 1998, but it was discontinued due to cost and personnel issues.

Next year’s art fair will also include a Chalkfest event in which artists can purchase a piece of masonite onto which he or she will create a work of art that can be laid flat on the sidewalk, and would be available for purchase.

The idea of a Chalkfest was pitched to the Economic Development Commission in late 2004 by resident Donald Spatny. Commissioners embraced the idea, but lacked the personnel or experience to organize the event.

After deliberating with the commission for some months, Village Manager Kathleen Rush suggested using Chicago Special Events, which had organized other Chalkfest events in Chicago. Village trustees wary of the cost to the village delayed an April vote on paying the $7,000 management fee. In May, after the Chamber of Commerce agreed to split the cost, trustees gave the green light.

By that time, however, Zemola said that many artists already had lined up their events for the summer, and few were able to squeeze in Riverside’s fair.

?”Bob Uphues