This year, the early bird gets the heirloom tomatoes.
West Chicago Blooming Fest kicks off the start of the summer festival season on Saturday, May 21, with music, food, children's activities and other attractions. But the festival's roots are firmly planted in the popular West Chicago Garden Club plant sale.
If you goWhat: West Chicago Blooming Fest
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 21
Where: Downtown West Chicago
Details: Garden club plant sale, live music, food, children's activities, artist demonstrations and more
Cost: Free admission
Gardeners come from throughout the suburbs to buy the healthy, well-priced plants primarily from garden club members' own gardens.
Every year, the selection is a little different.
"This year we cut back on the more common things, so our variety is greater," said Thomas Fessler, plant sale chairman. "There's much more variety."
By popular demand, the club will offer more vegetables this year, including several varieties of heirloom tomatoes, peppers and pumpkins.
Perennial favorites include hostas, ostrich ferns and rose bushes. More unusual are the Pagoda dogwood trees from a garden club member's 10-acre property along the Prairie Path. And there will be a greater selection of peonies this year.
"We went with what people asked for last year," Fessler said.
Flats of annuals will also be for sale.
The plant sale runs from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Fox Community Center, 306 Main St. Most gardeners come early for the best selection; any plants that haven't sold by 1 p.m. are typically marked down.
"At 2:30, it's garage sale time," Fessler said. "We don't want to take anything back with us."
Blooming Fest is much more than just a plant sale.
Main Street activities in downtown West Chicago include a craft and fine art sale, children's activities sponsored by City Museum and the West Chicago Park District, food from local restaurants and the Chicago Corvette Club "Wheels" exhibit.
Live music will be performed continuously on two stages. The Main Street stage is at 321 Main St.; the Local Music Night Stage is at 200 Main St.
City Museum, 132 Main St., features its "All Aboard" train depot exhibit, which includes a replica of a historic West Chicago train depot made of Legos.
Gallery 200, 200 Main St., is offering a full day of artist demonstrations and appearances.
For details or a full schedule of Blooming Fest activities, visit www.westchicago.org.
Because of road construction, Blooming Fest attendees are asked to enter the downtown via Route 59 and Main Street and use free public parking at the Metra Lot or City Hall. A free, handicap-accessible shuttle bus will be available.