More than 100 performances set for 'innovative, uncurated' Elgin Fringe Festival

Whether you like your art on the avant-garde side or prefer more traditional expressions of passion, beauty and drama, the Elgin Fringe Festival has you covered.

Over the span of 10 days, a variety of venues in the city's downtown will host theater, dance, magic, comedy and visual art presentations, beginning Friday, Sept. 6.

“It's uncurated, uncensored and 100 percent of the ticket sales go back to the artists,” said Erin Rehberg, the festival's artistic director.

“You need a Fringe Festival button to get into everything,” Rehberg said.

The buttons are $3 each and entitle the bearer to admission to the festival as well as free admission to many of the festival's offerings.

“Some of the shows are beyond the free shows, like for $5, with $10 being the maximum,” she said.

One $10 ticket is for a theatrical presentation by Brad McEntire and the Audacity Theatre Lab of Dallas, Texas, titled “Cyrano A-Go-Go.” There will be four performance of the show, Sept. 12-15, at Side Street Studio Arts.

Rehberg said Audacity was the 2018 winner of the “Spirit of Fringe” award, given for the artists' participation in and attendance at festival performances.

Storyteller David Boyle, back for his sixth festival run, will bring his popular act to the Elgin Public House for four shows. The same venue will host a French cabaret act and comedic improvisation from Night Moose.

Art appreciators can catch pole dancing, burlesque, opera, and folk music at the Martini Room. The Geekspeare Theatre Company, a show from Captain Ambivalent, and a “ghostly podcast” will be at the Blue Box Café. And two festival newcomers, Children's Theatre of Elgin, and Chastity Gunn who will perform a one-woman show, will be among the offerings at the Hemmens Cultural Center.

There will be a mind reader/mentalist at The Loft of Elements Preserved and a sound artist at the Elgin Art Showcase. And in downtown Elgin, artist Kyle Wiese will demonstrate daring feats with fire on three nights during the festival.

In all, there will be more than 100 performances.

A Family Fringe Day on Saturday, Sept. 7, will be celebrated at the Elgin History Museum with children's activities including bounce houses, a juggler and art-making activities, Rehberg said.

The venues are located close to each other.

“We pride ourselves on the festival being walkable,” she said.

This will be the sixth annual Elgin Fringe Festival.

“There are fringe festivals all over the world. We get a really nice crowd. Our sales have gone up every year with over 1,000 people,” said Rehberg. “We have artists who come back every year. We have a ton of new artists that we're really excited about. We have a good number of returning artists which means we're doing something right.”

Rehberg and her husband, Tanner Melvin, are founders and executive directors of Side Street Studio Arts, a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting the arts in the Elgin area. The festival is presented by Side Street in partnership with the Elgin Cultural Arts Commission.

“Fringe festivals were started to support the artists on the fringe,” she said. “We are now the only fringe festival in Illinois.”

As fringe festivals have evolved, traditional art has joined the offbeat. The fringe element will be there, Rehberg said, mingling with the mainstream.

“There truly is something for everyone,” she said.

• • •

Sixth Annual Elgin Fringe Festival

When: Friday, Sept. 6, through Sunday, Sept. 15

Where: Venues throughout downtown Elgin

Admission: $3 for entry to festival and free events; some events carry $5 or $10 per-event ticket prices

Tickets: Can be ordered online at and will be available for pickup at Side Street Studio Arts, 15 Ziegler Court, Elgin


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