This year the festival’s co-chairs, Eileen Rochford of public relations think tank, The Harbinger Group, and Lisa Borelli, owner of Lincoln Square’s Musical Chairs Studio, have engaged in a massive marketing campaign via public radio announcements, postcards and leaflets served up with paper or plastic at local Lincoln Square supermarkets and daily flyer hand-outs at the Western L stop. The duo also teamed up with powerhouse event company, Star Events, whose website takes in more than 600,000 hits per month. Rochford is anticipating at least doubling last year’s count, and in doing so, has pulled out all the stops to make this Harvest Jam one for the memory books.
“This is family-fantastic weekend in the neighborhood,” said Rochford. “The Welles Park Advisory Council’s Circus in the Parks will again be operating the same weekend as us in Welles Park – so, it is truly low-cost, family-friendly weekend of entertainment.” Although Circus in the Parks and Harvest Jam are two separate initiatives (proceeds from the former going to the beautification and maintenance of all participating parks, while those reaped from the latter funneling directly back to Queen of Angels Parish, its school and community initiatives and outreach programs), the two events attract similar crowds and truly feed of each other. “Last year we worked well together, and we truly encourage families to take advantage of both events,” said Rochford.
Harvest Jam will feature three stages, one dedicated solely to children’s performances, and a music line-up certain to get things shaking. “We will have performances taking place from 6 p.m. on Friday when we open to the public, until Sunday at 9 p.m., when we call it a night,” laughs Rochford. “This is truly a ringing-in of fall and a musical extravaganza all in one!”
Friday night’s headliner is Wedding Banned, performing on the main stage at 8 p.m. On Saturday, Side Car and Too White Crew will tear down the house at 5:30 p.m. and 8 p.m. respectively, and Sunday will feature the likes of Maggie Speaks at 7 p.m. The children’s stage will feature an interactive Mad Science show and a performance by renowned Old Town School of Folk Music instructor, Maryann Johnson, on Saturday, while Radio Disney and Language Stars dance performances will light up the stage on Sunday. Rochford’s own third-grade son, endearingly nicknamed Muppet by his fellow band mates, will also be one of the many students (in addition to teachers and their bands) from Musical Chairs Studio that will be performing.
Events and contests will also color the three-day festival. In line with the small-town feel that is all Lincoln Sqaure, on Sunday the festival will feature a good old-fashioned cook-off in the form of a Grillmasters Challenge, Chili Cookoff and an Apple Pie Creation Challenge. Cook-off registration forms and details for interested parties are available for download online. For $5, any interested party can sample the long line of masterfully prepared samples and then vote for their favorites. Celebrity judges from local Lincoln Square restaurants will chime in along with the popular vote to category victors at 2:30 p.m. on Sunday.
For the kiddies, Johnny John’s will be hauling in trailers full of classic carnival games (fast pitch cages, squirt gun games, pop-a-shots, and dunk tanks), while a host of other child-friendly activities such as balloon artists, pumpkin decorating, jewelry making, magicians, face painting, and giant inflatables will fill out the festival grounds. Tweeny-bopper Kareokee will also be featured both Saturday and Sunday evenings on the children’s stage from 5-8 p.m.; all those Justin Bieber-loving little ones should be aware that their personal iPods can be passed off to the D.J. for their performances. Adults can participate in Pull-Tabs and Bingo games (both offering cash prizes to winners), while Ford will be there to give one lucky winner the keys to a brand new Ford Fiesta.
Additionally, over twenty artisans and vendors will line the sidewalks alongside a variety of food and beverage vendors. Caramel apples, roasted corn and fried pickles are sure to remind that fall has officially arrived.
Official Harvest Fest hours are Friday, Sept. 17, 6 – 10 p.m.; Saturday, Sept. 18, noon – 10 p.m., and Sunday, Sept. 19 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Requested $5 donation.
Tickets for any of the Midnight Circus’ four scheduled performances in Welles Park this weekend are available for $15 online or at the door. Please note that all ticket sales will end two hours before the first scheduled performance on both Saturday and Sunday.
For those looking to take a break from the festival ongoings, be sure to head over to Book Cellar’s annual adult spelling bee Friday evening at 7 p.m. (4736-38 North Lincoln Avenue).