The outdoor festival season is winding down in Brookfield, but that final hint of summer will be in full effect this weekend in Brookfield, where the Chamber of Commerce will host its annual Fine Arts Festival.

This year’s event, scheduled for Saturday, Sept. 24 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in Kiwanis Park, 8820 Brookfield Ave., is celebrating its seventh year of bringing the community together to appreciate (and purchase) art, entertainment and camaraderie. 

Abby Brennan, owner of Brookfield’s Brennan Massage and Spa, is serving once again as the event’s coordinator alongside the festival’s longtime sponsor, the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce. 

While Brennan says the event has been a highlight for the community for the past number of years, she believes this year will be even more special because of a few additions never done before. 

One new addition for this year will be more music performances for audiences while they view art, shop and relax in the park.

Acts following the annual performance by members of the Riverside-Brookfield High School Jazz Ensemble include songs and dancing by Clara D’Onofrio of Ms. Clara’s Joyful Learning Center, performances by youth students from A Sound Education and finally, a performance by popular Chicago band the Dooley Brothers.

Also for the first time this fall, there will be food and drinks available for purchase, with Joe’s Saloon in Brookfield hosting a wine tasting and BuckleDown Brewing from Lyons selling their craft beers. There will also be food trucks where guests can get a “taste-of” experience. Guests do not need to purchase tickets ahead of time as food and drinks can be paid for at the event with cash. 

Aside from the new additions, the Brookfield Fine Arts Festival will continue to welcome to visitors of all ages to view and purchase art across all media created by local artists. 

Brennan says the event expanded its focus this year because of the positive response to the event over the last couple of years.

“Last year, it was great,” she said. “It’s been getting bigger and better every single year that we do it. More and more people look forward to the art show and are telling me they’ll be there. 

“I don’t know if we’re spreading the word better or that it’s been around long enough now that people are looking forward to it, but just like anything, you want to add to it and tweak it.”

Brennan credits the Brookfield Chamber of Commerce with coming through with a strong number of volunteers year after year who promote the event and help out the day of.

“We started with absolutely nothing with this art show and now we have our head around it,” Brennan said. “When people work together, you just get more done and you can bring more to the table.”

One artist who is coming out for the third year in a row is LaGrange Park resident Jennifer Leban, who decided to come back to sell her work because of the event’s growing popularity and success.

“Every year, it’s gotten a little bit bigger and better,” Leban said. 

This year, Leban will be selling a unique array of hair accessories, including floral headbands and skull clips inspired by the Day of the Dead.

Additionally, the fest will include its popular sidewalk chalk art contest for adults. From noon to 2 p.m., participants who bring their own sidewalk chalk will be provided a sidewalk square to decorate however they wish. 

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top three winners. Those who wish to participate may sign up by calling Brennan at 708-255-5335.

Whether you’re an art aficionado or just looking to spend a nice afternoon in the park, Brennan says the Fine Arts Festival makes for a fun activity for people of all ages.

“It’s a great day to spend in a beautiful park looking at beautiful art, have a day of leisure, mingle with other people in your community,” she said. “It’s a really easy neighborhood thing to do. Because the park is user friendly, there are so many ways you can enjoy the event.” 

Leban agrees the event has something to offer no matter what your interests are.

“I think residents should come out because there’s a really wide range of arts and crafts,” she added. “There’s something for everybody.”

Beautify Brookfield to host Salt Creek duck race

Also coinciding with this year's Fine Arts Festival for the fourth year in a row is the Duck Race fundraiser held by Beautify Brookfield, the nonprofit arm of the Brookfield Beautification Commission, to help fund its public art efforts in Brookfield. 

At noon on Saturday, rubber ducks will be launched into Salt Creek at the Washington Avenue bridge and "race" south along with the current to the canoe launch north of Brookfield Village Hall. Prizes for top finishers include $500 for first place, $250 for second place and $100 for third. 

Rubber ducks can be purchased for $5 each at the First National Bank of Brookfield, the Brookfield Public Library or by 11:30 a.m. the day of the fest. 

Proceeds from the duck race will go towards programs sponsored by the Brookfield Beautification Committee, including community art projects and business district landscaping.