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Ellwood House hosts second annual summer festival

August 6, 2018

DeKALB – Ashley Rice and her family recently moved to DeKalb, so she was excited to bring her two young daughters to the Ellwood House lawn Sunday afternoon for the second annual Ellwood Summer Festival, where families could create several art projects, participate in a gardening activity and enjoy live music.

“I saw this event advertised, and I thought it would be fun to come and see what’s around town,” Rice said. “It’s interesting to see all the small-town things, and we love doing community events and being a part of whatever community we live in. And the girls love art.”

Brian Reis, executive director of the Ellwood House Museum, said the summer festival replaced the ice cream social, which was a long-standing tradition in DeKalb. He said the new festival focuses more on families and activities for children, as well as music, which was provided by Arcomusical and the DeKalb Municipal Band.

“We felt that contemporary audiences weren’t quite sure what to do at an ice cream social, so we had to come up with a contemporary name,” Reis said. “This is attracting younger families, and it’s nice for the community because it’s a beautiful day to wander around the grounds and have kids be involved.”

The Kishwaukee Valley Art League sponsored the art tent, which was a huge draw for the children. They could participate in four free art activities, including rock painting and sponge painting. Tamara Shriver, KVAL program coordinator, said being involved with the festival was an important part of the group’s philanthropy program.

“We’re giving back to the community by providing the art supplies and staff members to work with the kids,” she said. “We love partnering with the Ellwood Museum, and we love helping the kids. They have boundless creativity. Every child is different, and it’s amazing to see the differing levels of talent here.”

Angela Johnson of DeKalb and her son, Jordyn Jackson, 10, loved the art tent so much at last year’s event that they joined the group. Johnson said that her son does some sort of creative project almost every day.

“Art is something that’s good for the kids to be interested in,” she said. “My kids have artistic ability, and I try to bring that out in them and get them involved in things like this. We were really excited for this event.”

Jordyn was hard at work painting a fish onto a smooth rock at the art tent.

“I like doing artwork because it’s really fun. I like to use my imagination, and I like to paint,” he said.

Ayris Bagjas-Alletto of Cortland said she and her children love art and music, so the festival sounded perfect for her family.

“It’s great, and it brings the community together,” she said of the festival. “This makes art and music more accessible for the kids, and it’s important for them to be exposed to it.”

Pat Moeller of DeKalb was waiting for the DeKalb Municipal Band to begin its performance. She and her friends said they had been coming to the Ellwood Museum’s Ice Cream Social for years before it was turned into the Summer Festival.

“We come for the music and to be outdoors to enjoy the beautiful lawn,” Moeller said. “The band is wonderful, and they sound really good here. Events like this are a good way to bring people [to the Ellwood House].”

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