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A Walk Through History: Old Town and the Art Fair

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Monica Fazekas

As a current senior studying journalism at DePaul, I am also a prospective law student. I am excited to graduate but I will miss the city.

 

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Old Town: A historical landmark of Chicago

In working with Old Town throughout this quarter, I have learned that one of the most important and prominent events the community celebrates is the annual Old Town Art Fair. So, in looking through the history of the neighborhood, I thought it was only fitting to end on a note that contains so many memories for so many of the residents.

As an organization that was founded after the civil war, the Old Town Triangle Association was kept intact to secure, maintain and preserve the neighborhood. The organization really wanted to promote the community's unique identity since it was located in a city as large as Chicago.

To do so, the organization decided to throw a neighborhood party in celebration of the community. Old Town residents, friends and family members were invited to create works of art to display at the event. As Shirley Baugher states in her book, Our Old Town: The History of a Neighborhood, "There were no entry restrictions, and the definition of art was stretched to its outer limits."

With no jury to judge the art that was displayed, residents and local artists created everything from embroidered aprons to jewelry and potholders to watercolors. Literally anything was considered art.

Additionally, as the party was hosted on Lincoln Park West and in the two adjacent alleys, the art was simply laid out on tables and hung from fences in order to display. At the time, the fair only charged a quarter to get in.

This party, held in 1950, was known at the time as the Old Town Holiday. And, while the name was not official until 1963, this became the first Old Town Art Fair--today's oldest juried outdoor art fair in the nation!

The fair was a great success! And, as we know, it has been held annually since the first neighborhood party, gaining positive reputation and growing in the number of entries every year since.

Soon, professional artists began judging the entries and selection process shifted from no restrictions to strict limitations. Today, the quality of work submitted by over 260 artists from around the world is both highly regarded and sophisticated.

In addition to changing the selection process, the fair has moved its location to the corner of Lincoln and Wisconsin, raised their donation price to $7.00 and increased the number of annual visitors to over 50,000 people.

This year's fair will be held from June 12th-13th from 10am to 6pm, rain or shine!

While our class will be over by then, I'm sure Shirley Baugher--Old Town Now's new blogger--will be more than happy to tell you all about the event!

It's been a blast learning about Old Town and writing posts that cover the community throughout the quarter. But, as they say, all good things must come to an end. So, for now... so long Old Town!

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1 Comment

Isaac said:

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Hi Monica,

I apologize for posting this here, but I'm not familiar with how to directly message you through Chicagonow. Anyhow, I have a blog http://renownoldtown.blogspot.com/ that I think you'll find interesting. I haven't been writing for too long, but I think you'll be able to understand what I am aiming for. I would really appreciate it if you'd place a link to my blog up here somewhere, and of course feel free to mention any of my posts. I'll link back to you as well.

Take care,

Isaac

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