Barrington art fest is back with new features

The free Barrington Art Festival returns in full swing this weekend with two new features: a community art project and a collection of donated art to benefit people in supportive housing.

The downtown festival that traditionally takes place over Memorial Day weekend was postponed in May 2020, with a smaller art walk held in September 2020. This year, the festival will be back with more than 110 juried artists who specialize in ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, sculpture and more.

"It feels wonderful to see our community out and about again, enjoying all the things that Barrington has to offer," village President Karen Darch said. "The art festival has been a tradition for over a decade, and I know that so many people love coming into town each Memorial Day weekend to see these world-class artists and their artwork."

The festival, fully accessible, takes place 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday at Cook and Station streets. Restaurants McGonigal's and Big Iron Horse will host a "bar and grill garden" and beer and wine will be served.

The community art project called "Pillars of Strength" will be at the corner of Cook Street and Park Avenue. The project was an idea of the Barrington Cultural Commission and is being organized by volunteer Pam Conroy, village spokeswoman Patty Dowd Schmitz said. The project involves community members placing handprints on tiles to be assembled into tall pillars to be placed around town.

"The pillars represent the strength and resilience of our community during the past difficult year of the pandemic," Dowd Schmitz said.

This year, the festival also is working with the nonprofit Chicago Furniture Bank, which will have a booth to collect donations of art from festivalgoers from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday. The nonprofit furnishes apartments for people in supportive housing.

"It's not going to be resold," festival organizer Amy Amdur, owner of Amdur Productions, said of the donated art. "We are asking people to donate their old art stuff that's in the closet or that's in the basement ... Your old art will really make a difference in someone's home."

COVID-19 regulations in the Bridge Phase of the Restore Illinois plan call for 30 people per 1,000 square feet at outdoor festivals.

People are asked to reserve spots online to attend the festival, but walk-ups will be accepted. Just over half the total 3,020 spots over the two-day festival had been reserved as of midday Friday, Amdur said.

Vaccinated individuals will not need to wear masks, booths will be distanced and there will be hand sanitizer stations, she said.

Barrington's will be the third festival of the season organized by Amdur Productions, after Art in the Park in Northbrook and a festival in Wisconsin.

"Not only it feels great for us, but it was gratifying at the previous shows to see artists show their work. And it was gratifying to see families," Amdur said. "There was just relief on everyone's face that we could do something like this, safely and outdoors."

For reservations and more information, visit

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