The summer fun doesn’t have to end after Labor Day – at least not in southeast Oak Park. Barrie Fest returns Saturday, Sept. 9, so don’t miss out on all the fun, live music and food the festival has to offer.

Held annually on the second Saturday of September, this year marks 20 years of Barrie Fest and it’s sure to be a big one. Head over to Barrie Park, 1011 S. Lombard Ave., between noon and 5 p.m. to join in the festivities. Admission is free.

As it has for the last two years, the festival’s organizer, South East Oak Park Community Organization, is partnering with local non-profit Takeout 25 to keep attendees fed. Eight local restaurants affiliated with Takeout 25 have signed on for this year’s Barrie. Buy food tickets in advance online at

“We have restaurants literally cooking there at the fest and that whole vibe of old-school Taste of Chicago is present,” said Cory Wesley, SEOPCO co-president and Oak Park village trustee.

Takeout 25 is using the festival as an opportunity to officially launch the western suburbs as the state’s first green dining hub. The voluntary initiative helps local restaurants alter operations to become more sustainable. So far, 25 area restaurants have joined in. The non-profit’s community ambassadors will be at the event engaging with attendees on the importance of dining sustainably.

“We are encouraging people to come out and just have a conversation about green dining to raise awareness,” said Ravi Parakkat, Takeout 25 founder and Oak Park village trustee.

The yearly festival celebrates the anniversary of the reopening of Barrie Park to the public. The park closed in early 1999, following the discovery of poisonous coal-tar contaminants – residual waste left from the manufactured gas plant that operated on the site between 1893 and 1931. After a lengthy and enormously disruptive environmental remediation process, the park finally reopened in 2005. The first Barrie Fest was actually held the year before in a sort of pre-celebration.

Since then, the festival has evolved to become more of a celebration of the neighborhood. SEOPCO treasurer, Jim Peterson, believes many newer families in the area are likely unaware of the park’s history and the festival’s origins.

“I think a lot of people that live around here maybe don’t even know the park was closed and certainly don’t know the issues around it being closed, but there’s still a really strong neighborhood feel here,” Peterson said.

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