Gloria Henderson has bought numerous items at art fairs over the years, so her policy on Saturday while perusing the Riverwalk Fine Art Fair in Naperville was simple: "I'll only buy it if it's something I can't live without."
She had a lot to tempt her at the 28th annual fair, which features 135 artists who work in photography, mixed media, ceramics, jewelry, fiber, metal, glass and much more.
"I think it's one of the most outstanding art fairs anywhere, and I frequently go to art fairs," said Henderson, of Naperville, who enjoyed a cherry Italian ice while perusing the booths.
Over and over, Henderson's comments were echoed by fairgoers and exhibitors alike.
Larry Russo of Glen Ellyn said the art fair, organized by the Naperville Art League, is even better than the Old Town Art Fair in Chicago.
"It's fantastic. It's glorious," he said. "The way they present it, the way it's organized, the mixture of the artists. It's about the best art fair anywhere."
First-time visitors Debbie and Bill Schafrik of Orland Park, who bought a few pieces, said they loved the fair so much they already decided they will be back next year.
"We go to art shows in Chicagoland all the time. I don't know how we didn't know about this one, and we live so close," Debbie Schafrik said.
The juried art show featured artists from all over the United States, and one from Israel, artist Yoram Gal.
Gal said he travels to the U.S. several times a year for art fairs in Texas, Florida, California and more. He added that he has forsaken all Chicago-area art fairs, except Naperville's.
"It doesn't seem that Naperville and this show was very affected by the recession," he said. "The level of art is one of the highest in the country, so it's good to be with other really good artists. And it's wonderfully run."
Artist George Ceffalio of Glen Ellyn said this was his fifth time at the Naperville fair. "It's one of the best art fairs in this area, Chicagoland, by far," he said. "The amounts of crowd, and the eclectic artwork. I know for a fact that artists around the country try to get into this show because of its good reputation."
Barb Braun was part of a group of six people from La Crosse, Wis., who came to the suburbs for the weekend. While Braun's husband and others went to watch NASCAR races in Joliet, Braun and her sister-in-law chose the art fair.
"This is wonderful. It's the perfect day, and it's right along the riverwalk, it's so nice," she said. "I bought a trivet and coasters; it took me a long time to pick them. I've been drooling over all of the things I can't afford."
The Riverwalk Fine Art Fair continues from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday on Jackson Avenue between Main and Eagle streets in downtown Naperville. Free admission. For information, visit napervilleartleague.com or call (630) 355-2530.