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Figment Festival Finds New Home in Jefferson Park

  The festival, which had its first Chicago event in Garfield Park last year, will move to Jefferson Park this year.
Figment Festival
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JEFFERSON PARK — A participatory art festival plans to take over Jefferson Memorial Park Aug. 16-17, giving the area's burgeoning arts scene another boost, supporters said.

The Figment Festival, which features just about every kind of art imaginable except the kind that hangs on walls or sits in a gallery, drew 4,000 people to Garfield Park last summer, only to find itself without a home due to scheduling issues, festival spokesman David Shuey said.

"We really love the area," Shuey said. "We're excited to come to Jefferson Park."

Heather Cherone discusses the August Figment festival on the Northwest Side:

The festival is designed to showcase "art that encourages participants to play, dance, sing, create, engage, experiment and explore their environment," according to the festival's website.

"Our mantra is to take over a park and turn it into an art project," Shuey said. "Jefferson Park will be a new canvas."

Through Aug. 4, artists can submit projects for the festival, which is run entirely by volunteers and is free for both artists and attendees.

As part of last year's festival, Bring Your Bag Chicago built a canopy out 2,568 plastic bags, the number they said the city uses every minute, to demonstrate the need for a ban on plastic bags, Lock said. The artists handed out reusable totes that were screen printed inside the tent, she added.

Other artists had attendees make their own paintings, while another artist traveled through the fest painting mustaches on everyone, Lock said.

The fest is family friendly, Lock said.

The Figment Festival is the second summer arts festival to recently move to Jefferson Park. Last year, the Chicago Fringe Fest moved to the Far Northwest Side from Pilsen. Fringe Fest will return for a second year Aug. 29-Sept. 7.

Ald. John Arena (45th), who helped the festival obtain the necessary city permits, has been working to turn Jefferson Park and Portage Park into an arts and culture mecca to fill long-empty storefronts and bring new life to the Six Corners Business District and the Jefferson Park Business District.

"Ald. Arena really understands the value of having a free art festival in his community," Shuey said.

Figment is excited to be part of the growing arts scene on the Northwest Side, and hopes to return to Jefferson Memorial Park in future years, Lock said.

The success of the Fringe Festival made it clear the community was interested in more arts events, Arena said.

"Every Figment Festival is unique," Arena said. "It fits right in with the direction we are going in Jefferson Park."

About 4,000 people attended Jeff Fest in July, Arena said.

"Our goal is to bring people into the park," Arena said, adding that Figment Festival had no public safety issues last year in Garfield Park.

"Our community has really embraced the arts," Arena said.

Founded in New York in 2007, the first Figment Festival in Chicago featured more than 50 art projects and nearly 200 artists and volunteers near the Garfield Park Conservatory, Shuey said.

Figment Festivals take place annually in Boston; Washington, D.C.; Toronto; Geelong, Australia; Jackson, Miss.; Philadelphia; and San Diego.

Figment will take place from 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Aug. 16-17 at Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long Ave., which is near the Jefferson Park stop on the CTA Blue Line as well as the No. 56 Milwaukee Avenue and the No. 88 Higgins bus routes.