Strawberry Jazz Festival kicks off the season

June 1, 2018


This weekend’s 26th annual Strawberry Jazz Festival is shaping up to be bigger and better than ever before. The festival kicks off the season of fairs and festivals in the Kankakee area.

The event has more than 100 arts and crafts vendors, a lot of local food vendors and three stages of local entertainment. The festival is from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Small Memorial Park and in the Civic Auditorium at 801 N. Eighth Ave. in Kankakee.

“We’ve got a full variety of craft and art,” said Nancy DuTour, one of the organizers of the event from the Community Arts Council. “We’ve got word art, paintings and fabric art. Most of the food vendors are pretty local.”

Notable items for sale this year include metal art, paintings, sewn pieces, photography, garden items, wood items and jewelry. There also are specialty vendors with jams and jellies, dips, mixes and farm-fresh produce. Also included are electric wood-burning, industrial art and quilt vendors.

“It’s just a wide variety of things,” DuTour said.

There will be one entertainment stage inside the Civic Auditorium, one on the auditorium’s porch and one on the Small House porch.

“It’s a lot of local talent,” said DuTour, noting there will be music and dance groups who call the area home.

There also will be vendors along the walking trails in Small Park.

“Last year, we had 12 to 15 vendors on the trail, and it has expanded this year,” DuTour said.

The barrel train rides for the kids also will be on the trails.

Children will enjoy the kid zone with activities in addition to the barrel train ride. All the kid zone activities are free.

Another addition this year is an escape room in front of the Civic Auditorium. The exhibit is free, but donations will be accepted.

“That’s a new attraction we have this year,” DuTour said.

Visitors also will be able to check out unique cars on display from the Hieland Hot Rodders.

Of course, strawberry food items will be available for purchase, including strawberries dipped in chocolate offered by 3 Winds Eatery, of Kankakee.

More than 5,000 visitors are expected to attend the Strawberry Jazz Festival. DuTour says the vendors always tell her this is the event they want to be a part of each year because of the crowds.

Free parking is available near the Strawberry Jazz Festival at the park and in the neighborhood. The CAC has partnered with River Valley Metro and Kankakee School District 111 to offer more parking options for attendees. Visitors can park at the local schools, including Kankakee High School, and River Valley Metro will offer $1 bus rides from those locations.