Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival revels in diversity

The annual Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival took place July 19 and 20 near Centennial Park, offering sunshine and diversity.

“We’ve been coming since my daughter was young,” said MaryAnn Carter, of Evanston, who shopped for art with her husband Earlest Carter. “We’ve always loved it – the diversity, the culture, and the food, of course.”

“We like the fest because they’re [his children] exposed to different backgrounds,” said Luke Urbanowski, of Evanston, who brought his sons Sebastian 4, and Wesley, 6.

“We have artists from over 40 countries represented and we’ll net about 15,000 guests throughout the weekend,” said Hannah Aubry, City of Evanston festival assistant.

Aubry was delighted to discuss what has become a much-loved community festival, which this year featured 70 booth holders.

“All of the Evanston residents are out here enjoying the sunshine and it’s just a great day. We’re having a lot of fun.”

Families took advantage of an activity tent which offered face painting and crafts. This is where the Jean-Pierre family of Evanston spent much of their time.

Denis and Liz Jean-Pierre with their children Denis, Jr., 6, and Olivia, 4, built memories via crafts and ethnic food.

Denis Jean-Pierre is an Evanston firefighter/paramedic. Liz Jean-Pierre is a first-grade teacher.

“This is great!” said Liz Jean-Pierre. “We’re making a talking stick.”

Her son Denis held up the decorated stick which had a purpose.

“I guess it can be used in different cultures when it’s your turn to talk,” said Liz Jean-Pierre.

Her son was waiting in line for face panting. A train of folding chairs defined everyone’s turn despite his talking stick.

“I want a dragon,” said the younger Denis Jean-Pierre, of his facial design.

The older Denis Jean-Pierre wanted food.

“Jerk chicken,” said Jean-Pierre, of his $9 adult dinner plate.“I like all of the activities this community has to offer. It’s a very unique town and everyone seems to get along.”

This was 29th annual Evanston Ethnic Arts Festival, a free event that had dance and spoken word performances.

People sat in folding chairs or on the lawn near the stage. They were also encouraged to get up and dance by the Evanston-based Jutta & The High Dukes, a world music band. Indian body painting called Mehndi was a popular choice too.

Due to construction at the Arrington Lagoon in Dawes Park, the festival relocated to Centennial Park at Sheridan Road at Clark Street.

Free parking was available just north of the festival grounds and free shuttle buses were in service.

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