Smile Politely

Crystal Lake Art Fair made for a rainy but enjoyable Saturday

a selection of photography hangs in a tent and lays on the table. The photos are mostly close up nature shots of forests and flowers
Photography by Midwestcapades; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

Last weekend was the fifth year for the Crystal Lake Art Fair, hosted by 40 North and the Urbana Park District (you can read about last year’s fair here). This was my first year attending, so I was very excited all week, and then very disappointed when I saw the weather on Saturday. After confirming on Facebook the fair would be happening rain or shine, I headed out with my kids and a friend and hoped the rain would hold off while we were there. It was a little drizzly when we arrived (we lucked out with super close parking and avoided the overflow lot), but the rain ended up stopping for the hour we were there.

Tents are set up along the pathway of Crystal Lake Park. People are looking at the various booths. It's wet and rainy outside.
Serenity Stanton Orengo

I commend the artists and vendors for sticking it out; I spoke to a few of them and in some cases the rain prevented certain pieces from being displayed, and in at least one case, a vendor’s booth had flooded. There was still a surprising number of people — and there were many more by the time we left — but I’m sure the turn-out is usually much better when the weather cooperates.

Two food trucks are set up at Crystal Lake Park; the one on the left is dark and serves pizza, the one on the right is bright pink and turquoise with cupcakes depicted on the truck
Serenity Stanton Orengo

There were two food trucks on site, Sugga Shaii Sweets (cupcakes in jars and cookies) and Flour and Fire Pizza. We got the cupcakes first, as one should do, and got our pizza to go before we left; a wise choice since it started pouring again on the drive home. The Hotta Ricotta pizza was incredible, and I’m going to think about it constantly until I have it again.

Dan Wild draws an incredibly uncooperative two year old. Wild sits on the right, while a two year girl in a purple dress and leggings runs around holding a unicorn umbrella.
Dan Wild draws an uncooperative toddler; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

UrVANa was set up in the pavilion with crafts and popsicles for the kids. Illustrator Dan Wild was also set up out of the rain offering two-minute caricatures.

The main draw is, of course, the artists. There were 40 artists present, representing a vast array of media: caricatures, woodworking, ceramics, painting, jewelry, glass, fiber, metal, photography, and printmaking. While I was familiar with some of them, many of the artists were new to me. One of my favorite discoveries, and the first tent to lure me out of the rain, was Jerry Rhoads, who creates beautiful woodworking pieces. Another special mention to Midwestcapades (the main image for this article) who displayed stunning highly-detailed nature photography.

Wooden plates stand on a bookshelf in an outdoor tent
Wood pieces by Jerry Rhoads; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

While I cannot include photos of every booth, check out the photos below for more of my favorite pieces from this year’s art fair:

An assortment of ceramic vases and bowls; mostly in teal and green and black, sit on open shelving on a table.
Ceramics by Kara Lovell; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
Three paintings by Sara Jahn of skulls with red accents and black backgrounds hang against a black wall
Paintings by Sara Jahn; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
two metal sculptures by Anthony Slichenmyer stand outside at the park. They are 6 feet tall; one is a large sunflower, and the other is a dragonfly with flowers
Metal sculptures by Anthony Slichenmyer; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
two walls inside a booth are covered with bright artwork; all of bicycles
Art by Judy Zeddies; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
an assortment of blown glass flowers lay on a table
Glass pieces by Gathered Illusions; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
an assortment of glass pieces lay on a table and on hexagon bookshelves; they include small figures, bracelets, jars, mini globes, and blown glass handled pens
Glass pieces by Gathered Illusions; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
a selection of fiber artwork in bright colors; mostly bowls with a large fiber leaf hanging
Fiber pieces by Gaye Grant; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
tiny blue and white vases sit on a table; some with an individual pink flower in theme. The vases resemble cats
Vases by Kim Caisse; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
black and white prints hang on a wall in an outdoor tent; they have significant detail and depict various scenes ; mostly combinations of animals and houses (such as a bird sitting on top of a house but the bird is larger than the house)
Printmaking by Mudpuppy Moon Art Studio (Courtney Farquharson); photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo
 a painting of a woman laying in a blue bathing suit, she is holding a tan hat over her face. the background is white and yellow vertical stripes.
Painting by Salma Abdelaziz; photo by Serenity Stanton Orengo

While it was a shame about the weather, it was overall a great time and a fantastic showing of local artistic talent. The organizers really did a great job of creating a family-friendly art-centered event, with good food and enough activities to keep even the youngest attendees from boredom.

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