Painted coolers adding color to downtown Wauconda

Brightly decorated wooden coolers are popping up in downtown Wauconda as part of the annual Art on Main exhibition.

The elevated chests, 12 in all, were built by Island Lake woodworking enthusiast Steve Stiller and painted by local businesses and groups. They're equipped with plastic liners, hinged lids, bottle openers and spigots for draining melted ice.

Several coolers have nautical designs, a nod to Wauconda's Bangs Lake. For example, the cooler at the Green Goat restaurant features an underwater vista and is called "It's Cooler By the Lake." Likewise, the untitled cooler at village hall features a fish, boat paddles and geographical coordinates for the lake.

Meanwhile, the cooler at Middleton's on Main is called "Ice Cold Beer" and features, yes, a tall glass of frothy amber liquid.

Art on Main is staged each summer by a community group called Main Street Attraction. Proceeds from an auction during the Sept. 6 farmers market will fund local beautification projects.

The auctions have raised more than $25,000 through the years, said Maria Weisbruch, executive director of Wauconda Area Chamber of Commerce.

Village Trustee Adam Schlick said he expects the coolers will be in high demand.

"I know I wouldn't mind one on my patio," he said.

Launched in 2012, Art on Main has featured painted Adirondack chairs, benches, cornhole platforms and planters.

Mayor Lincoln Knight said he's excited to see all the finished coolers on display.

"I love the Art on Main project," Knight said. "The ingenuity that is showcased, and the subsequent auction, shows how much Wauconda loves the arts and the talent located right here."

Even after seven years, Weisbruch insisted Art on Main organizers aren't running out of objects to paint and show off.

"Absolutely not," she said. "Ideas are already rolling for next year."

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Painted planters decorating downtown Wauconda

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