Blooming Fest brings plants, garden experts and fun to downtown West Chicago
West Chicago will get the growing season off to a colorful start Saturday with the return of Blooming Fest.
The annual celebration features a tented plant sale and a cadre of master gardeners ready to answer botanical questions.
The festivities in the city's downtown, which include food, music, entertainment and a car show, have become a spring staple over the past 20 years.
Barbara Bizzarri, president of the West Chicago Garden Club, says members gather plants from their own gardens to sell at the event.
"The majority of our plants come from West Chicago Garden Club gardens. We start in early March with potting parties," she said. "People talk about how they started their gardens by buying plants from the West Chicago Garden Club."
A wide selection of plants will be available, she said, from astilbes to zinnias.
"They're going to find perennials that are hardy. These are plants we know will thrive," she said. "We'll have lots of different varieties of hostas. We have a lot of old-fashioned plants -- bleeding hearts, Virginia bluebells, peonies."
Herbs, vegetables, native plants, annuals, shrubs and trees will round out the stock.
Bizzarri said proceeds help fund the club's scholarship program and tree donation projects.
She recommends that shoppers arrive early.
"A lot of people get there early to get first choice," she said.
Vegetable seedlings will be offered for sale by The GardenWorks Project, a West Chicago-based nonprofit that builds vegetable gardens for families in need.
Bethany Bayci, the city's special events coordinator, said Blooming Fest will go forward unless severe weather threatens like it did in 2017 when lightning and high winds forced its cancellation.
The day will start at 8 a.m. with the West Chicago Garden Club plant sale.
"They're located on Galena Street under a 40-by-40-foot tent," she said. Meanwhile, a Lions Club pancake breakfast begins at 8 a.m. in the American Legion hall, 123 Main St.
Mayor Ruben Pineda will address the crowd from the main stage at the 9 a.m. opening ceremony, Bayci said. The city recently was awarded a grant from CN EcoConnexions From the Ground Up for its 2019 tree planting program, a plan that calls for the planting of 160 trees.
The main stage will host musical performances and cooking and kickboxing demonstrations. The nearby Gallery 200, at 103 W. Washington St., will present art-making demonstrations from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Arts and crafts and garden accessories will be available for purchase along with jewelry, clothing and beauty products.
"We have a little over 80 vendors," Bayci said.
Food vendors will offer grilled cheese, pizza, rice, coffee, hot dogs, ice cream, Italian ice and candy.
The University of Illinois Extension service will staff a help desk for gardeners from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
And the Chicago Corvette Club will have a car show along Main Street. Bayci said there will be a kids' track for miniature cars. Kids can keep the cars in exchange for donations to Lurie Children's Hospital, she said.
Bayci said parking will be available at city hall, 475 Main St., at the train station at 508 Main St. and at several other locations near the festival.
If you goWhat: Blooming Fest
When: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, May 18
Where: Downtown West Chicago