The ARTS STAGE and KIDS ZONE will entertain families at JEFF FEST

Seeing aerial dancers suspended 20 feet up in the air is just one of the many family attractions at the 2014 JEFF FEST Arts & Music Festival. What separates JEFF FEST from the typical neighborhood festival is its park setting. Whether a child wants to run on the grass or participate in one of the festival’s interactive activities, JEFF FEST allows families to spread out and spend the entire afternoon in the park. It is not unusual for families to come for lunch and stay right through dinner because of all the fun.

From noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Chicago Kids Create will be coordinating free art projects in the KIDS ZONE tent. Drum building for the DRUM CIRCLE which will be held at 6 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. Sunday, paper-cutting arts, Sand Rangoli and Ald. Arena’s bicycle powered spin art are among the activities. The KIDS area also will include bounce houses, outdoor games, family theatre and a Revelettes dance instruction. The Revelettes, touted as “Chicago’s Grooviest Go-Go Gals,” will hit the SUMMER ARTS STAGE at 4:30 p.m. Saturday.

One of the festival’s highlights will be AERIAL DANCE CHICAGO at 1 p.m. Sunday. This dance company takes its performers into flight, incorporating a variety of apparatus, including suspended fabrics, bungee cords, hoops, swings and ropes.  The company thrives on giving its members access to the endless possibilities of what its Web site describes as “vertical dance space.”

Also capturing the imaginations of children will be Jefferson Park’s very own YOUTH COMPANY CHICAGO, which will be entertaining from noon to 1 p.m. Sunday. Cast members will be performing songs from the company’s summer camp programs, including “Seussical the Musical” and “Oliver.” The group also will be playing “improv games” with the crowd.

At night the KIDS ZONE tent will open up, and its walls be used as movie screens, showing a wide variety of locally produced short films on Saturday and Sunday “after dark.”

While most family activities will be on Saturday and Sunday, the SUMMER ARTS STAGE will offer some of Chicago’s best young bands on Friday night. JEFF FEST COMMITTEEE member Cyd Smillie said that each of these bands organized in high school and continue to play as college-age musicians.  On Friday, Field Daze hits the ARTS STAGE at 6 p.m., Aunteaks at 7:30 p.m. and Yoko & the Oh No’s at 9 p.m.

Also don’t miss “El Musical Que Planton,” which Smillie describes as an “ecology-friendly musical,” at 4 p.m. Sunday and the classic Spanish guitar of the Jose Cornier Trio at 8 p.m. Sunday.

On Saturday, from 8 to 9:30 p.m. on the ARTS Stage, Little Egypt, with state rep. Robert Martwick and the guest vocals of Jill Arena, will rock out.

The ARTS STAGE will be located near Higgins and Linder avenues. for more info. Admission is $7 after 5 p.m. ($5 before 5) and children under 12 free.