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Chicago Fringe Festival Gears Up for Sixth 'Weird' Event

 The Jefferson Park festival will feature kid-friendly performances for the first time this year.
The Jefferson Park festival will feature kid-friendly performances for the first time this year.
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Chicago Fringe Fest

JEFFERSON PARK — Organizers of the Chicago Fringe Festival are gearing up to stage the sixth annual fiesta of avant garde and do-it-yourself performance art this summer — and also thinking about the future.

Fringe Fest will return to Jefferson Park for a second year Sept. 3-13 for a festival featuring 50 shows and 200 performances in five venues throughout the neighborhood. Scheduled acts include the tale of an elephant killing in 1916, a dangerous modern circus and a one-man accordion rock opera.

But before the first act takes the stage at one of five venues near Lawrence and Milwaukee avenues, festival organizers will hold three town hall meetings to gather input about what the future of the festival should look like, said Anne Cauley, who became the festival's executive director this year but has been involved with the fest since it began in Pilsen.

Click here for our full 2015 guide to Chicago summer festivals. 

"We want to engage with our base and the broader community," Cauley said. "What should we be aiming for? We want to set our goals for the next five years."

Questions that will be tackled at the town hall meetings include whether the festival should return to Jefferson Park and whether the festival should stage events year-round, Cauley said.

"We want to think about what our impact on the neighborhood is," Cauley said, adding that the festival is designed to bring the arts to underserved communities.

Three acts will be part of the Kids Fringe pilot program, designed to make the festival more family friendly, Cauley said.

"That really came from the community, who wanted shows they could bring their kids to," Cauley said.

Those shows will include performances of "That's Weird, Grandma" by Barrel of Monkeys, which is made up of third- through fifth-grade students from Chicago Public Schools.

The town hall meetings will be led by Brian Loevner, the former executive director of Chicago Dramatists and a Chicago Fringe Festival Advisory Board member. They will take place at 6:30 p.m. July 28 at Victory Gardens Theater, 2433 N. Lincoln Ave.; 11 a.m. Sept. 12 at the Masonic Temple, 5418 W. Gale St.; and 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 at Simone's 960 W. 18th St.

For more information, go to chicagofringe.org.

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