The 35th Annual Children’s Book Fair and 61st Fall Garden Fair return in full for the first time this weekend, after two years of reduced or lapsed celebrations due to the pandemic.
The weekend kicks off with the Fall Garden Fair, part of the Spring Fair and Chicago’s oldest community garden sale. It will be held Saturday, September 17 at the Hyde Park Shopping Center, 55th St. and Lake Park Ave., from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
After wild success Spring Garden Showthe fall sale will be slightly smaller, selling mostly bulbs and chrysanthemums, including specialty bulbs (like alliums and irises), daffodils, tulips, crocuses and hyacinths.
Joy Rosner, president of bulb sales for 35 years, orders bulbs from the Netherland Bulb Company, which sells Dutch bulbs from Holland, a longtime destination for bulb sales and the site of “Tulip Mania”, a 17th century site. speculative frenzy on tulip bulbs imported from the Ottoman Empire.
This year’s order was late, due to the summer European heat waves, Rosner said. However, there will be around 9,000 bulbs sold on Saturday, and they will only be short of paperwhites, a type of daffodil good for forcing (grown indoors rather than outdoors).
There will also be houseplants and perennials, such as ornamentals like kale, cabbage and peppers. Anything can be planted this fall.
“A good gardener wants to have flowering plants from March to November,” organizer George Rumsey said. He added that he has things that bloom in February most years, like snowdrops, which, true to their name, climb through the snow. The chrysanthemums bloom immediately, while the bulbs stay in the ground until they bloom in late winter to early summer.
The bulbs are cold-dependent, Rumsey said, and they should be placed in a refrigerator or planted about six inches deep in the ground.
Both Rumsey and Rosner pointed out that the all-volunteer-run day will bring many people together to answer any questions about fall planting.
“They should definitely speak to one of us who sell because we grow all these bulbs in our own yards. You know, we have the Hyde Park experience, so we know what works, what comes back and what squirrels dig up,” Rumsey said.
Profits from the fair are divided among the various non-profit organizations in the area, with around 60% going to the upkeep of the gardens at Nichols Park, growing house, an Englewood-based urban farm, workforce development center and nonprofit social enterprise, and to other community groups upon request; the remaining 40% goes to Hyde Park-Kenwood Community Conference.
“(The bulbs) are really quite wonderful. And it’s such a bright color for winter and the doldrums of early spring, when everything’s a little gray,” Rosner said.
The children’s book fair
The Youth Book Fair will be held on Sunday, September 18, at the corner of 57th Street and Kimbark Avenue, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
The fair was held last year at Ray Elementary5631 S. Kimbark Ave., but on a much smaller scale than years past.
This year’s show will still be smaller than those held before the pandemic, but will feature crowd favorites – Marsha’s Music, The Music Teachers of Hyde Park, South Side Suzuki, Hyde Park School of Dance and several storytellers. State Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) will also give a reading from his favorite book, “Where the Wild Things Are.”
As at previous book fairs, children can choose books and visit 20 community organizations and vendors, meet local authors, listen to readings on the Fairy Castle and Great Green Room stages (from “Goodnight Moon”) , as well as watching music. and dance performances. They will also have a cartoonist and balloon animals.
Mother Goose and the Kenwood Academy band will lead the parade at 11:30 a.m.; Cloud said everyone is welcome to come in costume and walk with them.
“We’re just going for what’s been proven this year,” said first-time organizer Patricia Cloud.
Cloud organizes the fair with his adult daughter, Anna Sawyer, who attended the book fair every year as a child. “You can see it from our front window,” Cloud said.
The theme of this fair is Banned Books, to mark the start of Banned Books Week on Sunday, and they will have an exhibition for submitted essays on Banned Books, as well as prizes for the best.
Founded by Rebecca Janowitz in 1986, in an effort to save the O’Gara and Wilson bookstore (then located at 1448 E. 57th St.) from a tenancy dispute, the fair was held in Nichols Park for several years, before returning to 57th Street. (It was originally called the 57th Street Children’s Book Fair).
All events will take place on 57th Street between Woodlawn and Dorchester Avenues, and on Kimbark Avenue between 57th and 56th Streets.
“I think a lot of people who’ve missed a fair in the past few years are going to enjoy seeing their old favorites,” Cloud said.