A Day in Our Village
BY TERRA COONEY For Sun-Times Media
credit Michael D. Stewart
Oak Park residents reserve the first Sunday each June to gather as a community to celebrate the coming of summer. This year, June 1 marks the date of the 41st annual festival, A Day in Our Village, which brings together the area’s civic, cultural, social service, educational, religious and business organizations from all over Oak Park. The celebration, which runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., is a long-standing tradition of the community with a rich history.
Michael Stewart, long-time resident, volunteer and festival chair has fond memories of the celebration from his own childhood. Though currently the festival takes place in Scoville and Rehm Parks, back in the 1970s it happened throughout other neighborhoods as well. One of his favorite recollections is of walking through foam in the fire station. Though this specific event is no longer offered, he hopes attendees will make new memories from year to year.
The layout has become a bit more compact, partially due to the beautiful landscaping enhancements that have been made in the last couple of years in Scoville Park, but what the festival never lacks is it’s presence of community. This year, the committee has new members and volunteers, which Stewart thinks will bring a new energy to a Day in Our Village.
“It’s all about the people,” said Stewart.
It’s about laying in the lawn, listening to music from a diverse group of bands, eating the great food that Oak Park has to offer, and generally getting to know your neighbors. Old friends always come together, but it is also an opportunity for newcomers. Stewart, who also works as marketing director for Oak Park Regional Housing Center, shared that new residents in the community are always encouraged to come out and experience, get information, and learn.
The event is a one-stop shop for everything from the local Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, to the recycling club, to various political groups, schools and churches. Scoville Park will be full of arts and crafts, games and activities for the whole family, and the ongoing shuttle to Rehm Park will open up the entertainment even more for kids. The Park District transforms Rehm Park into an old-fashioned carnival, and discounted admission to the pool that day will be offered between 1-5 p.m. New this year to the Rehm Park festivities: a $6 wristband allows unlimited access to paid activities.
Because of his love for his community and the event, Stewart stepped up about 16 years ago as part of the group that brought the festival back.
“We believed this event was important,” he said. “We enjoyed it as kids in the community and wanted it to continue, so we all pitched in and got it rolling again.”
One thing that the committee always needs is more volunteers to keep the festival alive. Learn how to get involved by calling (708) 358-5407 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.