In the midst of the summer event season, Evanston aldermen tonight will consider whether the town needs more outdoor special events.

The City Council holds a special meeting at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center to review its policies, which now limit the number of events held on the lakefront to a dozen and limit the number of vendors at lakefront festivals.

In the midst of the summer event season, Evanston aldermen tonight will consider whether the town needs more outdoor special events.

The City Council holds a special meeting at 7 p.m. at the Civic Center to review its policies, which now limit the number of events held on the lakefront to a dozen and limit the number of vendors at lakefront festivals.

The aldermen are also to consider the possibility of adding more downtown events in partnership with the Downtown Evanston marketing organization.

Some aldermen see special events as a way of stimulating business in the community and providing more inexpensive recreational opportunities.

But adding new events on the lakefront has traditionally drawn opposition from lakefront residents, and Alderman Judy Fiske, 1st Ward, Sunday night sent out an e-mail message to her constituents encouraging “lakefront neighbors” to turn out for the meeting.

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Update 11:15 a.m.: Alderman Fiske has just sent out a follow-up e-mail in which she quotes City Manager Wally Bobkiewicz as saying he never intended to discuss adding more lakefront events tonight, although he does plan to talk about adding more events elsewhere. Bobkiewicz blames “poor staff work” for the lakefront idea creeping into the presentation, which he concedes he failed to read before it was posted on the city’s website.

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Sixty events are listed on a spreadsheet city staff prepared for the meeting. The actual count should be at least 61, because the list conflates the Ethnic Arts Festival held last weekend and the Lakeshore Arts Festival next month into one event.

Most of the events listed are quite small — including the 10 demonstrators expected for peace and justice vigils held monthly at Church and Maple by the Northshore Coalition for Peace, and the estimated 50 people at Memorial Day ceremonies at Fountain Square.

But others are much larger — with 17 listed events expected to draw 1,000 people or more.

Of those 17 larger events, four take place at least in part at lakefront parks — the ethnic arts and lakeshore arts festivals, each expected to draw 20,000 people; the Fourth of July parade and fireworks, drawing 10,000 people, and the North Shore Century bike ride, drawing 1,600 people.

The largest events happening elsewhere in town include:

  • The Custer Fair at Main Street and Chicago Avenue with an estimated attendance of 70,000.
  • The Fountain Square Arts Festival and the North Shore Grand Prix bike race, both downtown and both with an estimated attendance of 20,000.
  • Northwestern University’s commencement ceremonies at Ryan Field, with an estimated attendance of 10,000.
  • The YEA Festival in the Chicago-Dempster business district and the downtown sidewalk sale, each with an estimated attendance of 6,000.
  • The Community Picnic at Ingraham Park behind the Civic Center and the Northwestern University homecoming parade on Sheridan Road, both with an estimated attendance of 5,000.

Northwestern’s football games at Ryan Field aren’t included on the special events list.

City parks chief Doug Gaynor says the city has a total net cost of about $86,000 for the 11 events it sponsors or co-sponsors and breaks even on the other events, recovering the costs of regulating them from permit fees.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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1 Comment

  1. Evanston Events

    I love the outdoor events that the city provides residents. It’s an excellent way for seniors and others to have outside activities with little expense involved. Please continue and no problem with adding more

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