Blue Island arts group pairs craft beers with crafters Saturday for Mai Fest in Olde Western Avenue Historic District – Chicago Tribune

Yoshiko Yap

When scores of suppliers showcase their wares Saturday in Blue Island, it will mark the metropolis “coming back again to lifestyle after the pandemic,” in accordance to Joe Leamanczyk, head of the Blue Island Arts Alliance.

Mai Fest 2022 Arts and Crafts Reasonable will attribute jewellery, T-shirts, paintings, pores and skin care merchandise, candles, crystals, cards and additional, in accordance to organizers.

The celebration is scheduled from midday to 5 p.m. Saturday. The 86 vendors organizing to seem at Mai Fest will be established up indoors at the Blue Island Beer Firm and outside in tents alongside Olde Western Avenue like on the patio of the Rock Island Public House. The products that will be for sale are all handmade by the artists, a criterion for currently being in the display.

The title “Mai Fest” was decided on to honor Blue Island’s German heritage.

“An event like this will appeal to people from all unique parts all-around Chicago, bringing consciousness to the good corporations in Blue Island,” Leamanczyk stated. “We want individuals to see there is a imaginative neighborhood here, and we want to continue to keep building that local community.”

John Streetz, the driving power driving the Streetz Artz Alliance, is the planner and manager of the occasion. Streetz is a crafter himself, making pop-art-themed bead objects through his enterprise, Bead Streetz. He is also a enthusiast of locally produced beers, and even though selling his art in breweries he had the plan to manage artists and crafters into an alliance, and to commence arranging and taking care of shows in Chicago space breweries.

“I observed that crafters and artists go seriously very well with people today drinking craft beers. I amassed a large team of talented artists and started reaching out to breweries to set up reveals,” he said. “Blue Island Beer Organization was one particular of the initially breweries to enable me do this. Now the Alliance has grown to nearly 300 artists and this thirty day period alone we have four exhibits.”

These arrangements do the job nicely for several of the suppliers who will be in Blue Island, many of whom report their solutions are primarily suitable with craft beers.

Verzell James, for example, sells 10 fermented incredibly hot sauces, which vary from delicate to very hot, by way of his company Awe-Sauce.

“Hot sauce and beer just feel to go collectively,” he claimed. “Connecting with the breweries is a excellent notion. I commenced executing pop-ups in breweries when I released the very hot sauces in November of 2017.”

There’s also Glen Kato, whose The Smile on a Dog, LLC, presents artwork painted on wooden panels, cloth luggage, T-shirts, notecards and other merchandise with pet and character themes.

“It’s definitely a neat notion to hook up with the breweries mainly because one particular of my themes is canines and beer. I have T-shirts and a great deal of other products that talk about canine and beer creating individuals satisfied for 10,000 years,” he mentioned.

Monsters and horror themes also do properly at the brewery shows, mentioned Carrie Been, who sells residence decorations, paintings, jewellery, furniture and other merchandise. Several have horror motifs — feel Jason and the Creature from the Black Lagoon — but there are also crystal merchandise, going for walks sticks, and magic wands.

Been’s merchandise, which includes her “creepy” and voodoo dolls, became so effective that last year she opened a shop in Crestwood, called Moonlight BEEN.

“Working with the breweries is normally fantastic,” she mentioned. “They check out to accommodate what you require, and the people today who come to the exhibit are out there to have a great time they are usually great.”

Indeed, interacting with the general public is a very crucial component of the craft shows for the vendors. Throughout the pandemic, several artists moved to on-line profits, but they all agreed that very little replaces the connections of stay exhibits.

That’s the view of Jason Magafas, whose Axial Creations presents products built from aluminum chain mail, such as jewellery, aspiration catchers, vital chains, outfits and dice bags.

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“Nothing is going to conquer the in-person reveals, getting able to notify individuals to go in advance and contact the items, decide on them up, see how they look on you,” he stated. “You make good friends with your buyers, and you discover about other opportunities from networking with the other crafters. It is how I linked with the Streetz Alliance, and I have not regretted that.”

And, as James factors out, warm sauces genuinely simply cannot be sampled about the internet or at most retailer shows.

“I want the in-individual craft fairs and I’m looking ahead to this one particular. I seriously take pleasure in chatting to individuals and describing the warm sauces and the distinctive spices and seasonings in them. I love it when the folks who seriously like incredibly hot sauce glimpse at me and say, ‘That’s definitely very good!’” he stated.

Olde Western Avenue will be shut from Broadway to Canal Streets for the Mai Fest. There will not be any food vehicles mainly because readers are encouraged to go to Blue Island’s foods and beverage institutions. Inclement climate could induce adjustments to the strategies.

The Mai Fest is cost-free to the public, but a donation of $5 will be appreciated by the Blue Island Arts Alliance to assistance with other programming via the calendar year.

“I hope this will develop into an yearly occasion for BIAA,” Leamanczyk stated. “The metropolis of Blue Island desires to do more gatherings, so we’re psyched about what this next year holds for undertaking items in this town.”

Carol Flynn is a freelance reporter for the Everyday Southtown.

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