OLD TOWN — This weekend Old Town is set to become the pseudo art capital of Chicago.
The neighborhood is host to two separate art festivals a stones throw from each other, but differing in their scope of party and atmosphere.
Both the Old Town Art Fair and the Wells Street Art Festival kick off Saturday with the Art Fair tucked away on the tree lined streets of the Old Town Triangle and the Wells Street Art Festival located down the middle of bustling Wells Street.
While both events are decades old, the Old Town Art Fair, which is in its 64th year, was the original in the neighborhood and has stayed true to its not-for-profit volunteer driven art focus.
The Wells Street Art Festival, which is in its 39th year, often draws the bigger crowd due to its prime location, and because of that, the Art Fair has suffered.
Many attendees who pay to enter on Wells, end up thinking the events are two in the same, and when asked to pay again to enter the Old Town Art Fair, turn away, according to Robert Gibbs, an organizer of the Art Fair.
"In general, they benefit from the confusion between the two art fairs, so we work twice as hard to get people to understand that there are two," Gibbs said.
While the Wells Street Art Festival is known not only for its art, but also its rowdy crowds and musical acts throughout the day, the Old Town Art Fair prides itself as being the original art fair in the neighborhood.
"The difference is apparent," Gibbs, who is director of the Old Town Triangle Association board, said. "You get more college-aged party goers at Wells Street and we've got an older demographic who are looking to buy pieces of art."
Saturday morning will be the start of the 64th annual Old Town Art Fair and will be host to 250 nationally acclaimed artists. Forty percent of those artists are new to the fair this year.
The fair is located between Sedgwick and Clark Street two blocks north of North Avenue.
The Old Town Art Fair is launching a new tradition this year, to try to cement itself as the original art-based event, by ringing the bells at St. Michael and on the music stage at 10 a.m. Saturday.
"Local folklore is if you can hear the bells of St. Michael's you are in Old Town," Gibbs said.
The Wells Street Art Festival will also host 250 artists a few blocks west of the Old Town Art Fair, and will also have two stages of cover bands playing throughout both days.
The main gates to the Old Town Art Fair are at Lincoln Avenue and Wisconsin Street. The festival opens at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday and closes at 6 p.m.
The Wells Street Art Festival opens both days at 10 a.m. and runs until 10 p.m. on Wells between Division Street and North Avenue.
The schedule of musical acts at the Wells Street Art Festival is below:
Main Stage Music
Noon - The Happiness Club
1:15pm - Todd Kessler from The Voice
2:15pm - Jesse White Tumblers
3:00pm - Sophie B. Hawkins
5:45pm - The Smithereens
7:45 - 9:45 pm- Trippin Billies
12:15pm - Stache
2:00pm - Jesse White Tumblers
2:30pm - The Hat Guys
4:45pm - Generation
7:30 - 10pm - American English