Hearts were broken when it was revealed that another tree on the downtown Square in Highland was dying. It would have to come down, according to Mark Rosen, Highland’s director of Parks and Recreation.
Luckily, the Highland Chamber of Commerce and Highland Arts Council got wind of the impending tree removal and requested that the bottom 7 feet of the tree be left for a wood carver to create a piece of art at the 15th annual Highland Street Art Fest, which runs from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16 around the Square.
In 2011, wood carver Brian Willis was commissioned by the Highland Arts Council to transform a dead tree on the west side of the Square into a permanent work of art. So naturally, when a tree on the east side of the Square died, Willis came to mind.
The Highland Arts Council offered to sponsor Willis once again to create a piece of permanent art.
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“In a fun coincidence, these trees are situated directly across from each other with the iconic downtown fountain in the middle. We are so excited that another unique piece of art will grace our downtown Square” said Nancie Zobrist, executive director of the Highland Chamber of Commerce.
In addition to the tree art, Highland Arts Council will be sponsoring and coordinating a “unity pole,” which is a fun, interactive art piece created by community members. It will be created on the Square and housed at a location to be determined by the Highland Arts Council.
The Main Event
Beyond the excitement of the tree carving and unity pole, attendees to Street Art Festival can look forward to watching more than 30 artists create masterpieces, using chalk, on the streets surrounding the Square.
Artists will be finished with their works of art by 4 p.m. Judging will take place from 4 to 7 p.m. Winners will be announced at 7 p.m.
While the artists are busy creating, attendees can participate in a bags tournament, where cash prizes awarded to the top three teams. Teams can register at the chamber office, 907 Main St., or online at highlandillinois.com/streertartfestival or the day of the event.
The second annual Run for Color 2-mile fun run will begin at 4 p.m. This is a family-friendly event that anyone can participate in. The route will be different this year. Runners/walkers will follow Main Street from Laurel to Hemlock and back again, giving participants opportunity to be showered in color both directions. The powdered color is non-toxic and washes off. Those interested can register online at the chamber’s website or at the chamber office.
New to Street Art Festival this year is the Makers Market, which will feature hand-crafted items, ranging from woodworking to homemade soaps to jewelry.
“We really wanted to be able to feature our local artisans in a setting where they could truly shine,” said Zobrist. “The Makers Market is a great opportunity to showcase what is becoming a lost art.”
As in years past, there will be plenty of good food, good music, and libations to make for a great afternoon.
Food, music, activities for kids
From 4 to 7 p.m., festival-goers can enjoy the musical styling of the “501 Blues Band.”
Street Art Fest has also added additional entertainment during the day, such as caricature artist James Heil. He will be drawing from 4:30 to 6 p.m. The Highland High School and Highland Middle School cheerleaders will be performing at 2:45 p.m., and 97.5 FM “The Rock” will be broadcasting live from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
The Illinois Federation of Business Women will be hosting the Kreative Kids Korner where young artists, up to age 12, can create chalk treasures on sidewalks around the Square and several small crafts. There is also a giant wooden puzzle, tic-tac-toe, and giant blocks to entertain them. For a small donation, you can wear your kids out in the bounce house.
The Highland Jaycees will have its second annual Hops and Color Beer Tasting event Sept. 15 from 7 p.m. to midnight and during Street Art Fest, Sept. 16 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Friday night attendees will be entertained by the musical styling of Blacktop Acoustic. Participants can purchase tasting cards to sample 20 different craft beers, as well as some home brews. Early-bird tickets can be purchased at the chamber office.
At a glance
- What: Highland Street Art Fest, featuring artists drawing masterpieces in chalk on on the streets. Other highlights include a color run run, craft market, food, music, kids area, beer tasting bags tournament and other live art demonstrations.
- When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 16
- Where: Highland’s downtown Square