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posted: 6/28/2012 8:08 AM

Legacy Arts Park to benefit from Lakeside Fest

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  • Baylee Kassel of Crystal Lake participates in the ice cream eating contest at the 2011 Crystal Lake Lakeside Festival. The fest benefits the Lakeside Legacy Arts Foundation. The 33rd annual festival is this weekend at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in Crystal Lake.

       Baylee Kassel of Crystal Lake participates in the ice cream eating contest at the 2011 Crystal Lake Lakeside Festival. The fest benefits the Lakeside Legacy Arts Foundation. The 33rd annual festival is this weekend at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in Crystal Lake.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, July 201

  • Charlie Carnes of Crystal Lake parades down the path on his decorated bike in the kids bike parade at 2011's Lakeside Festival. Another bike parade will be held Saturday on the third day of this year's fest at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in Crystal Lake.

       Charlie Carnes of Crystal Lake parades down the path on his decorated bike in the kids bike parade at 2011's Lakeside Festival. Another bike parade will be held Saturday on the third day of this year's fest at Lakeside Legacy Arts Park in Crystal Lake.
    Laura Stoecker | Staff Photographer, July 201

 
By Hannah Meisel
hmeisel@dailyherald.com

Young artists from the Crystal Lake community will once again benefit from the 33rd annual Lakeside Festival held at the Lakeside Legacy Art Park this weekend.

McHenry County's largest celebration is even larger this year, thanks, in part, to a steady army of volunteers, said Erin McElroy, advancement coordinator for the Lakeside Legacy Foundation. The part-carnival, part-food and music festival is celebrating 10 years of service to the foundation, an organization dedicated to the advancement of arts education in the community.

The Foundation was formed in 2002, when community members banded together to raise more than $1 million to save the property's 11 acres from development. The Dole Mansion and original Crystal Lake Country Club is included in the property.

Though these young business owners did not have an arts foundation in mind, once the property was bought from the First Congregational Church of Crystal Lake, they were approached by the McHenry County Youth Orchestra, looking to rent rehearsal space. From there, the Arts Park's tagline "where art meets history" began to take hold, said Ron Russell, festival chairman.

"We've taken the history and art into the equation, including architecture of the historic buildings and culture in our mission," Russell said. "We provide a place you can get arts education at a low cost outside of education school system. We rent to professionals who have dedicated their whole lives to art."

Russell said the festival typically raises $80,000 to $100,000 for the foundation -- funds that McElroy said will benefit arts students immensely.

"You can touch us easily by coming to Lakeside Fest," McElroy said, explaining the yearly impact of the fest to help fund the foundation. "(The Arts Park) enriches the community, as arts supports problem solving and critical thinking skills."

The Foundation offers not only volunteer opportunities, but also internships to arts students who show inclination. Jorian Lewke, junior at Crystal Lake Central High School, said her internship and involvement in the organization has directed her career goals to a combination of arts and business.

"Being here since I was so young is going to really help me with applying for colleges, especially having a volunteer background," she said. "Constantly being exposed to arts has cultivated my interest in photography and marketing."

Lewke's father, Tyler Lewke is also active in the foundation. All board members are volunteers, and in the weeks surrounding the festival, spend upward to 100 hours a week planning. Along with the foundation itself, the festival takes around 300 volunteers to put on. McElroy said festival preparation began last year when a local Boy Scout troop marked out parking, and volunteerism will continue next week with cleanup with local high school sporting teams.

"We're starting to build up our volunteer army," she said.

Sponsors are a large factor in the festival also, providing both cash and in-kind donations. Local food vendors such as Plum Garden Chinese Restaurant, Georgio's Chicago Pizzeria and Pub, Justice Marketplace and La Mexicana Buena Vista will be selling food in the vendor area. On Saturday, Kaleidoscoops Ice Cream &\and More along with other local ice cream vendors will host an ice cream eating contest, following a decorated bike parade.

New to the fest this year are some big playing visitors from Chicago -- mascots from the Chicago Blackhawks, Bears and Bulls will take pictures with children and families, and hand out sports giveaways. Russell said these unique activities are what makes the fest successful, and well attended.

Jessica Dvoracek, senior at the University of Iowa, said the fest has indirectly affected her by way of the Arts Park for much of her teenage years. She began working with the foundation during her junior year of high school at Crystal Lake Central, and will graduate from Iowa next may with a degree in arts and journalism.

"It's been a really awesome journey getting to know our community through the art lens," she said. "I've picked up a lot of skills here. It's just nice to know Crystal Lake ha a place where all this creative energy is being fostered."

For festival details, visit lakeside.myriadcs.net.

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