Smile Politely

Allerton’s inaugural Bluebell Festival taking place May 3-5

a field of bluebells with a brick building in the background
Steve Hoffman/Allerton Park and Retreat Center

Allerton Park & Retreat Center is already an incredibly beautiful place to check out and visit, no matter what time of year. This weekend, they’re hosting their inaugural Bluebell Festival, which they describe as a “spring version” of their Holiday Showcase that happens in December. The festival takes place from 5 to 9 p.m. on Friday, May 3rd, and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, May 4th and Sunday, May 5th.

This weekend is complete with the 11th annual Plant Sale, which you can read about in Louise’s rundown we published not too long ago, and an indoor market.

From the press release:

MONTICELLO — Allerton Park and Retreat Center will host its first-ever Bluebell Festival: A Folk School Fundraiser on May 3-5, and park officials admit the long term goals for it are lofty: to become a spring version of the highly popular Holiday Showcase that draws thousands to the Monticello-area park each December; and also to raise money to support The Farms, the ambitious folk school that launched last fall.

While the Showcase revolves around holiday spirit, its spring spinoff takes advantage of spring color, notably the colorful bluebells and other blooms seen throughout the park this time of year.

“We’ve gotten feedback over the years about how well the Holiday Showcase is attended,” park Associate Director of Retreat Center and Programming Jordan Zech said. “So this is a similar concept, with vendors on site, and there is an indoor-outdoor component as well; and we’ve always had people suggest we replicate that format.”

Featured outdoors all three days will be the 11th Annual Plant Salewhich will allow visitors to shop for flowers and plants in the Main Parking Lot. There will be food trucks and a cash bar available.

The main indoor component will be The Market from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, May 4 inside the 1900-era Mansion, featuring art sales and demonstrations from The Farms instructors.

“Visitors can come to the Mansion for free and walk around and observe how wool is spun, or cookie decorating, or weaving. There will be a lot of things to view, and visitors will also be able to ask questions of instructors and get a feel for what you can learn at The Farms folk school,” said Olivia Bunting, Allerton’s Senior Program Coordinator.

Interspersed throughout the weekend will be live music (outside on Friday evening and inside the Mansion Saturday), as well as other workshops and activities that include Yoga and Cookie Decorating Saturday and a Community Hike and Wet Felted Peony activity on Sunday.

There is no charge to attend the inaugural Bluebell Festival, although there is a cost — and prior registration needed — for the workshops. See the entire schedule here.

The inaugural Bluebell Festival has another admirable goal: To raise $25,000 for the The Farms, the first folk school in Illinois, which began offering courses for the community last fall.

“Any donation we get that weekend will go to The Farms. There is no set amount — any little bit helps,” Bunting said.

crowd funding site has been created to track fundraising progress. All funds will be used to expand and improve efforts to offer a variety of affordable, community-based learning opportunities, including purchasing supplies and equipment, facility improvements, instructor fees, promotional materials and more.

The Bluebell Festival will run from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, May 3 and 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, May 4-5. See the entire schedule here.

Executive Editor

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