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Jefferson Park Gets Weird, Hosts National Fringe Fest Conference

By Heather Cherone | October 16, 2015 6:29am
 Attendance at the 2014 performance art festival was higher than in 2013 and 2012, officials said.
Chicago Fringe Festival
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JEFFERSON PARK — If Jefferson Park seems a little weirder next week, there's a good reason.

Organizers of fringe festivals all over the United States will travel to the Far Northwest Side to hold the loose organization's annual conference Oct. 23-25.

The Chicago Fringe Festival wrapped up its sixth year in Jefferson Park in September with a nine-day festival that featured 186 experimental, avant-garde and do-it-yourself performances from approximately 50 artists and groups.

The nine-day festival — which dubs itself "weirder theater" — will return to Jefferson Park next year for its seventh anniversary from Sept. 1-11, organizers said. It will be the festival's fourth year in Jefferson Park.

Representatives from 15 cities from across the country — including leaders from New York and San Francisco — who are part of the United States Association of Fringe Festivals will attend the group's annual conference at the Jefferson Playhouse, home of the Windy City Music Theatre, 5340 W. Lawrence Ave., organizers said.

"Discussions, networking and sharing best practices within the Fringe Festival community," will also take place at the Gale Street Inn, Fischman's Liquors, Teresa II Restaurant and the Gift Theatre, all in the Jefferson Park Business District, organizers said.

It is the first time the conference has taken place in Chicago.

"We look forward to sharing our experiences and ideas with other communities to help make the Fringe movement even stronger in the United States as well as showcasing Chicago's arts, culture and culinary scenes," Chicago Fringe Festival Executive Director Anne Cauley said.

Nearly 4,000 tickets were sold to shows at the 2015 festival, down from the festival's attendance high point, notched in 2014, Cauley said.

The festival's artists, who receive 100 percent of the festival's ticket sales, split nearly $25,800, Cauley said.

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