Art festival brings in vendors from around the world

Stephanie Yang

The Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival drew visitors and vendors from all over the world to Dawes Park on Saturday and Sunday.

The festival took place from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. on both days and represented more than 80 cultures with artist and food vendors, family arts activities and multiple music, dance and poetry performances.

Jeff Cory, Evanston culture arts director, said it took many months to pull the event together.

“We coordinate close to a hundred artist vendors, performers on a main stage and a family stage,” Cory said. “There’s a children’s crafts area. There’s food vendors. A lot of planning goes into it.”

Cory said to find participants, the organizers advertised the event in various publications to attract artists. He said the festival allowed people to be exposed to and experience other heritages.

“It’s a way of showcasing different cultures,” Cory said. “It’s a way of bringing together people from a lot of different backgrounds and bringing them all out here for this festive event on Evanston’s lakefront.”

Chicago resident Natalie Smith, who attended the festival for her third time, said she enjoyed the booths, food and entertainment the event offered.

“I like the diversity of the folks that come out,” Smith said. “You can look around and it’s just absolutely all sizes, shapes and colors and abilities. I really think it introduces people to different types of arts and music and crafts and so forth.”

Cory said although this year’s festival did not feature any major structural changes, the event has been constantly evolving over the years.

One exciting addition, Cory said, was the Young Chicago Authors, a group which was featured in the documentary “Louder Than a Bomb.” The performance poets took the stage on Sunday along with several participants from Evanston Township High School.

“We’re incorporating the youth of Evanston into the programming this year,” Cory said. “It’s something we’re really excited about.”

At the festival, vendors sold items from across the globe.

Abdo Hassan said he came to Evanston for a couple days to participate in the festival to sell various items from Egypt, India and China. He said he had been participating in fairs for two years and regularly sells items at festivals around the Midwest.

Hassan said other festivals he has attended generally last longer than two days. “This is very short, but it’s good,” he said.

Carla Miranda also participated in the festival for her second year and said she had a great experience.

“It’s been wonderful. Very nice customers, and a lot of customers that have always known her company and keep coming back,” Miranda said. “Everyone’s been great and it’s been a great festival.”

Miranda helped manage her sister’s booth, which featured merchandise from Thailand from her sister’s Chicago-based company, Nomadic Ant.

“The majority of the stuff is all pure silver, and then we have some other precious stone bracelets, and then some clothing,” Miranda said.

Miranda added that the location of Evanston’s festival is nicer than others she has attended because of the breeze and view from the lake. She said the festival allows visitors to find more unique items, and this event in particular was slightly more focused on ethnic booths than others.

“It’s not your everyday stuff that you see in the commercial stores,” she said. “So you kind of pickup random pieces that you won’t find every day.”

Cory said he received positive feedback from visitors during the festival on Saturday.

“People have been telling me that the performers they’ve seen here this afternoon are the best they’ve seen, they’ve been coming here for years and people seem to be loving it,” he said.

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