Professional storyteller Jeremy Schaefer has attended "fringe festivals" in Chicago, Indianapolis and Cincinnati, and says the one in Elgin can compete with the best.
"I think it's fantastic," Schaefer said of Elgin Fringe Festival, now in its fourth year and running Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 13-17. "It is a phenomenally well-run festival that builds a really great community, not just with the artists but with the fan base that comes to check out the show."
If you goWhat: Elgin Fringe Festival, an uncurated arts festival featuring more than 120 performances of dance, comedy, drama and music.
When: Wednesday through Sunday, Sept. 13-17
Where: Several locations throughout downtown Elgin, including Hemmens, Imago, Elgin Art Showcase, Next Door Theater. Fringe Central -- ticket and button purchase, pickup -- is at 15 Ziegler Court.
How much? All-festival pass button, $65; or $5-$10 per show, with $3 Fringe button.
Details: www.elginfringe festival.com.
The festival will feature more than 120 performances of dance, music, theater and even mime and magic at various locations downtown, including Blue Box Cafe, Elgin Art Showcase, Elgin Public House, Imago Studios, Side Street Studio Arts and First United Methodist Church.
"We are kind of grabbing them all and bringing them in, and we kind of have a really diverse lineup," said festival co-founder Sean Hargadon.
New this year is a "Tailgate" area on Saturday, with a live music stage and food trucks in the parking lot at the corner of Chicago and Spring streets.
The beauty of fringe festivals is that they are not juried, meaning artists sign up on a "first-come, first-served" basis, Hargadon said.
"Some are real professionals, some tour fringe festivals across the country and Canada," he said. "There are some that are just starting out that are pretty rough, but that doesn't mean they are not charming and fun, or even good."
The goal is to allow open expression, Hargadon said. "We don't censor anything, we don't look at the shows in advance," he said. "That's what's fun about a fringe fest -- you're not sure what you're going to get."
Schaefer, a Buffalo Grove native and Chicago resident, won an award at last year's festival in Elgin. He returns with "Sportsball," which he said is based on an experiment he conducted to explore people's passion for sports.
"It was to try to figure out what the appeal to team sports is, coming from someone who never paid any attention whatsoever to the sports life," he said. "The overall tone is comedic but it's a genuine exploration and search for answers to understand the investment some people have.
Other returning artists are David Boyle, Robert Frosty Theater Company, Elgin Theater Company, Captain Ambivalent, William Pack and La Groove Fakeloric. Newcomers include Broadway 360, Solace Coalition, Bad Wolf Dance Theater, Randy Ross, The Minnesota Sky Vault Theatre Company, and Ben Benjamin's Mental Magic.
Festival headquarters will be at Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court, where people can get show information, purchase tickets and meet the artists. Martini Room, 161 E. Chicago St., will host the opening, closing and after parties.
The cost is a $3 "button" for admittance to all shows, which range from free to $10, or an all-festival pass for $65. For purchase and more information visit elginfringefestival.com or facebook.com/elginfringefestival.