Over the weekend, thousands of Hyde Parkers flicked through book stalls, tulip tables and science-related stalls as they ushered in the last days of summer. From throwback events like the Children’s Book Fair and Fall Garden Show to the inaugural Southside Science Festival, here’s a look back at the weekend.
Children’s Book Fair
“This is the first year we’re back in full force,” said Anna Sawyer, one of the main organisers of Sunday’s Hyde Park Children’s Book Fair.
The theme of this year’s Children’s Book Fair is Banned Books, which kicks off American Library Association Banned Books Week by celebrating common banned books such as Art Spiegelman’s “The Rat.”
This year’s organizers are still smaller than their pre-pandemic shows, bringing back Marsha’s Music, Hyde Park Dance School, South Side Suzuki and In The Spirit Storytellers. Local State Sen. Robert Peters (D-13th) reads “Where’s the Wild Animals,” Mother Goose and the Kenwood College marching band parade on 57th Street.
“Rebecca Janowitz started (the book fair) 35 years ago with some other book lovers,” Sawyer said. “So, we’re excited to be back live and seeing all the kids enjoying[the activity].”
Autumn Garden Fair
Chicago’s oldest community garden auction, the Fall Garden Fair, is back after a pandemic break and met an eager group of early risers. This year, organizers set up tables in the central courtyard of the Hyde Park Mall at 5450 S. Lake Park Ave. and lined up on the wall in front of 1554 E. 55th St. in Walgreens.
“It was packed with people and they were buying enthusiastically, which we liked; lots of questions, which we liked,” said veteran organizer George Ramsay.
Sales start at 9am; they sold out moms by 11:30am, but there are still bulbs in the afternoon.
Joy Rosner, who ordered the light bulbs, estimated they had about 8,600 moms at the start of the day.
“A lot of our long-term growers have gone out of business or are selling wholesale, so it’s hard for us to get the number of moms we usually have,” Rumsey said. He added that their numbers are less than half what they were in previous years.
Garden Fair patron Erin Flynn said of her purchase: “We moved into a house from the middle of Hyde Park, so now I’ve given a front yard and a back yard…I’m planting for our house for the first time light bulbs for the next spring.”
Flynn chose daffodils “because it says they come back every year” and tulips because they remind her of her grandfather.
Southern District Science Festival
In its first year, the South Side Science Festival kicked off at the University of Chicago’s Science Plaza, with booths and events showcasing the fascinating world of science.
The Science Fair is organized by the University’s Department of Biological and Physical Sciences and its Pritzker School of Engineering. By the end of the day, more than 1,500 attendees had passed the quad.
“We do field trips here with the kids,” said UChicago Charter School-Woodlawn physical education and wellness teacher Eric White Jr., who is surveying the quad to track a dozen seventh- and eighth-grade students.
“We learned a lot. We learned about animal skulls there; they had liquid ice cream, and we went to the battery demo. So, a lot happened,” White added.
Attendees can also hear a discussion of red-headed woodpeckers by Field Museum ornithologists and learn about angular momentum from other booths, including UC physics graduate students.
White’s eighth grader Tyreese Petty said of his experience: “I loved everything here today. It was a really cool experience. I learned a lot today, more than I did in school. So It’s a blessing.”