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posted: 5/15/2017 9:37 AM

Blooming Fest offers garden-themed fun

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  • Blooming Fest in West Chicago features a variety of activities centered around the West Chicago Garden Club's annual plant sale.

    Blooming Fest in West Chicago features a variety of activities centered around the West Chicago Garden Club's annual plant sale.
    Daily Herald File Photo

  • The Blooming Fest plant sale offers potted perennials -- most cultivated by West Chicago Garden Club members -- as well as some annuals.

    The Blooming Fest plant sale offers potted perennials -- most cultivated by West Chicago Garden Club members -- as well as some annuals.
    Daily Herald File Photo

 
By Ann Piccininni
Daily Herald correspondent

Plants popping with color, carefully potted and ready for a new place to call home, will be in plentiful supply Saturday at Blooming Fest in West Chicago.

"We'll have 1,500 to 2,000 plants, in a wide variety, all labeled as to type and cultivar," said Dick Darrah, West Chicago Garden Club president. "We sell basically perennials that come out of members' gardens. They're potted probably a month before the plant sale and cared for."

Blooming Fest runs 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 20, in downtown West Chicago.

The West Chicago Garden Club's annual spring plant sale started nearly 20 years ago as strictly a plant sale. Nowadays, the club has joined with the city to make Blooming Fest a multifaceted festival with garden-themed vendors, art, entertainment and a car show.

"Blooming Fest kind of grew up around the plant sale," Darrah said. "It's quite a fun day. We get a lot of families."

"It did start with the garden club sale and it kind of expanded from there," said Bethany Bayci, the city's special events coordinator. "It really is a spectacular daylong event."

Blooming Fest draws about 3,000 visitors every year.

"People come throughout the day," said John Said, the city's community development director.

Darrah said the club's 70 members hail from West Chicago and throughout the Western suburbs. They meet monthly to learn from speakers and share their passion for growing things.

"We all plant gardens and dig around in the dirt," he said.

This year the plant selection will include buckeyes, pagoda dogwoods, day lilies, irises, geraniums and Eastern redbuds as well as some annuals, Darrah said.

"A lot of us start seeds," he said. "We will have heritage tomatoes, herbs. We will have a nice selection of hosta, poppies and different sedums."

Master gardeners from the University of Illinois Extension Service will be available to discuss gardening at 111 Galena St.

There also will be a Chicago Corvette Club Wheels Exhibit and a children's toy car racetrack set up downtown, Said said.

The festival will host craft vendors, food vendors and vendors offering garden-related items, Said said. Live entertainment will include a performance by the mariachi band from Leman Middle School.

Bayci said there will be a monarch butterfly release at 9:15 a.m. Saturday.

"This event aligns well with Mayor Ruben Pineda's recent signing of the National Wildlife Federation's Mayors' Monarch Pledge," she said. "You want to get there early to be sure you see that."

The pledge is aimed at promoting action to preserve and protect monarch butterflies' habitat, which has been threatened in recent years, resulting in a precipitous decline in the animals' numbers, according to the National Wildlife Federation.

In conjunction with Blooming Fest, Bayci said, the West Chicago Cultural Arts Commission is presenting Arteculture, a multimedia art show, Saturday at Gallery 200, 103 W. Washington St. An opening reception and preview will be presented from 6 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 19.

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