Riverside Arts Weekend, on hiatus since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, will welcome the community back downtown – albeit in an altered format – on June 11-12 at the Riverside train station, 90 Bloomingbank Road.
After scrapping the event altogether in 2020 and offering up just the annual art “spectacle” in 2021, in the form of a triptych mural of enduring Riverside symbols, this year’s event will again take place over two days, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Dubbed “Rally 2022: A Welcome Back Party,” there will be musical and dance performances, a children’s art table, artist talks and food and drink from local vendors. The only thing lacking this year will be the juried art fair itself, which organizers hope to revive in 2023.
“The goal is to bring the art show back,” said Charlotte Zia, the new president of Riverside Arts Weekend’s board of directors. “We have a thoroughly new committee, so we’re learning and trying to be open.”
Zia, a Riverside native and formerly in a leadership position with the Riverside Junior Woman’s Charity, said she volunteered to step up after the former board president, Jill Mateo, stepped down after serving for many years.
“I didn’t want the event to disappear,” Zia said.
This will also be the first year Riverside Arts Weekend will be held in June. For more than a decade, RAW was held in mid-May and served as an unofficial summer kickoff. That was to change in 2020 after a couple of chilly, rainy weekends. Then COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 event completely.
Last year’s mural, spearheaded by local artist Erika Vazzana, who is also on the RAW board, and painted by dozens of local volunteers, was displayed at the train station for two days last June.
On June 11-12, Bloomingbank Road will be closed to traffic during the hours RAW is happening. Still a little skittish about the weather, organizers have moved this year’s spectacle – painted tables – inside the train station proper. Performers will be outside, but under the cover of the train platform roof.
The live entertainment kicks off on June 11 at 11 a.m. with a performance by Beyond Words Dance Studio, based in Lyons and owned by Riverside resident Kate Jablonski.
Live music on June 11 will begin at 11:30 a.m. with the Cajun-inspired sounds of Les Haricots, followed at 2 p.m. by RickyRamon (rock). On June 12, music will be performed by local Riverside rock quintet Out for Hours (11:30 a.m.) and the Hollywood Slim Blues Band (2 p.m.).
In between music performances each day, RAW will host artist talks inside the train station, where visitors can meet artists, see examples of their work and hear from the artists themselves.
Volunteers from the Riverside Arts Center will have a table in the train station where children can help them create an art project.
LaBarra Riverside will be selling food on both days of RAW, with sweet treats from Berwyn-based Yummikupkake (June 11) and Riverside-based Sweet Ride Bakery (June 12).
Zia said RAW organizers are also looking for a little assistance from the public – in the form of an online survey – to help them plan future Riverside Arts Weekends.
“We want to make sure we are blending our vision and what the community is interested in for future events,” Zia said.