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Ice cream and art create one ‘special event’ at Ellwood House

DeKALB – Art, ice cream, music, sunshine and history combined Sunday to form an idyllic experience for people attending the Art Fair & Ice Cream Social at the Ellwood House grounds.

“It’s a wonderful event. I love the music. I love the fact that it’s in the park. And the people are great,” said Rhonda LeMar-James of Davenport, Iowa, one of the 32 artists displaying their work at the event.

For the second year, the Ellwood House Association combined two events that have been taking place on the Ellwood House grounds for more than 40 years: the Art Fair, which used to be held over Fourth of July weekend, and the Ice Cream Social.

The Art Fair used to have artists come from all over the country, but with the recession in 2008, attendance started dwindling, said Brian Reese, Executive Director of the Elwood House Association.

“But now it’s more of a local show, certainly beyond DeKalb County, but mostly Illinois artists,” Reese said. “We’ve combined it into this day, which makes it very energetic throughout the day.”

Music was provided by the acoustic duo, Patchouli, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. and the DeKalb Municipal Band from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Culvers sold ice cream, and the Elwood House Association sold slices of pie. The Rotary Club and Boy Scout Troop 33 sold items such as brats, hamburgers and hot dogs.

“We couldn’t get better weather and the attendance has been very good,” Reese said. “I’ve seen a lot of people buy things from the artists, which I’m sure makes them happy.

John Challand from Malta makes metal bird sculptures from old farm implements like combines, shovels and even sewing machine grates. He calls his artwork “post-consumer minimalism.” He’s been creating this art for about 16 years.

“It originally started with my imagination as a child. When I grew up on a farm there was a part of a combine that made me think of a bird’s head and I just started making things like that. I was lucky that people tend to like the things I put together,” Challand said.

Tom and Danell Jackowski from DeKalb were eating lunch that they bought at the Boy Scout stand. This is the third event they’ve been to at the Ellwood House this summer. They came to the Memorial Day event in May and “Jazz at the Mansion” in July.

“They have some pretty cool metal exhibits over there, where the birds’ heads are tipping back and forth. I guess if we were going to buy something, it would be something more unique like that,” Tom Jackowski said.

Bruce Hecksel is the guitarist for the Midwest-based group Patchouli, which also includes singer/songwriter Julie Patchouli. They play “New American Folk” music with vocal harmonies that often resemble Simon and Garfunkel. They also do instrumental music under the name, “Terra Guitarra,” in a style called “Nouveau Flamenco.”

“We always love playing in front of the Ellwood House,” Hecksel said. “DeKalb is a really great community in supporting the arts, and that’s why we keep coming back. [They] have always made this a really special event.”

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