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updated: 5/21/2011 11:53 PM

West Chicago's Blooming Fest growing new fans

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  • Yvette Brinkman of West Chicago looks at plants for sale during Blooming Fest Saturday in West Chicago.

      Yvette Brinkman of West Chicago looks at plants for sale during Blooming Fest Saturday in West Chicago.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

  • Julie Cox of Wheaton looks at a bird house for sale during Blooming Fest in West Chicago.

      Julie Cox of Wheaton looks at a bird house for sale during Blooming Fest in West Chicago.
    PAUL MICHNA | Staff Photographer

 
 

Vendors and volunteers at Saturday's Blooming Fest in West Chicago were full of garden-themed puns to describe the 11th annual plant sale and festival.

And most say the event is building on its roots.

"It grows every year, just like the flowers do," Rosemary Mackey, West Chicago's spokeswoman said of the festival, which brought rows of vendors downtown to Main Street.

The event has become a yearly spring stop for Liz Manning of West Chicago, who said she has trouble finding plants that survive in her shady yard -- except at Blooming Fest.

"They always have a lot of native shade plants here," Manning said. "We always come here to buy plants and fill in the yard."

Manning stopped at the West Chicago Garden Club's tent and picked up some trillium and a dark purple plant she couldn't name, but liked.

Garden club member Billie Childress said the popular sale offers mostly plants grown by West Chicago gardeners and usually sells out before the end of the festival.

"It gives us as gardeners an opportunity to share our plants," she said.

For a small fee, of course, with plants such as ornamental grasses, shrubs and annuals selling for between 50 cents and $6.

Three other vendors sold plants, including We Grow Dreams, a nonprofit greenhouse in West Chicago that offers vocational training for people with disabilities.

Local a cappella groups and acoustic artists sang to crowds browsing plants and crafts, adding the finishing touches to the festival atmosphere.

"We try to focus on garden crafts because this is a garden festival," Mackey said.

But the variety of vendors at the event has been growing, she said. An artist selling lawn decorations made of vintage glass set up shop next to a crafter offering handmade greeting cards.

"We were very fortunate this year to get a nice variety of vendors," Mackey said. "We've expanded our base to more of the fine crafts."