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Harvest Days brings urban twist to Garfield’s country fair

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Harvest Days

◆ 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 8-9

◆ Garfield Park Conservatory, 300 N. Central Park Ave.

Admission: $3, free for kids 3 and younger

◆ (773) 638-1766;

Formerly known as the Country Fair, the Garfield Park Conservatory’s new Harvest Days aims to put an urban spin on the fall gathering season and showcase its big backyard and Urban Demonstration Garden.

“It’s a new event,” said Robin Cline, assistant director of programs and interpretation for the Garfield Park Conservatory Alliance. “It’s a slight twist” on the County Fair, she added.

While visitors enjoyed the County Fair, Cline said conservatory staff noticed that they didn’t venture past the boulevard and parking lot to the big backyard, which is home to several ongoing programs.

“We are happy to have a thriving beekeeping program and a composting program, and a nature and art program here at the conservatory, and so this is an opportunity to showcase and harvest, to give people an opportunity to sort of harvest some fun, harvest some worms and harvest some honey,” she said.

Harvest Days runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 8-9 and offer activities for every age. Highlights for families include horse-drawn hay rides, $1 per ride; making corn-husk crowns and crafts; visiting chickens and goats; classic lawn games, including potato sack races; live Dixieland music with dance workshops; a StoryBus presentation of “The Little Red Hen,” and the worm-picking/compost-harvesting station.

Cline expects the composting station to be a big hit. The compost needs to be harvested for conservatory gardens and plantings, so kids will be invited to separate the worms from the compost and to plant seeds in the compost.

“Kids will be really excited to a real closeup hands-on look at compost and actually do some sorting of this worm compost,” she said.

Gardeners will enjoy honey harvesting and tasting, including conservatory honey; beekeeping demonstrations; a recipe-swap tent; food demonstrations/talks; the opening of the new Urban Demonstration Garden, and veggie bingo.

“One thing that I’m really excited about that we’re doing this year is something called a veggie bingo swap and share,” Cline said. “It should be really fun.”

Gardeners are invited to bring surplus produce from their gardens, for which they’ll receive a bingo card. A basket of homegrown veggies will be the prize for bingo games taking place from noon to 4 p.m. both days.

The conservatory’s Urban Demonstration Garden, which serves as a model of how to garden in the city, has been redesigned, so it’s being reintroduced during Harvest Days. Cline said it’s roughly the size of a garden in a city lot and features raised beds, mounded beds, container gardens and a twist on the popular rain-barrel watering system. Rather than relying on runoff from roofs, the system uses a funnel to capture water, which Cline said would be useful to folks who have plots in community gardens.

“We just are really excited to end the season with a fun harvest festival,” Cline said. “We have a lot of really fun, exciting music that’s going to be played. I think people will just have a good time.”

(Note: Because some activities will take place in the conservatory parking lot, those who drive should park on the street or at the Garfield Park Gold Dome field house at 100 N. Central Park.)

Garfield also is partnering with the Chicago Park District’s Nature Oasis program to offer its first family campout in the conservatory’s backyard from 2 p.m. Sept. 15 to 10 a.m. Sept. 16. Activities include a night hike, fishing, a campfire and learning basic camping principles. It’s geared toward families with kids 6 and older. The $50 fee covers sleeping bags, tents, dinner, breakfast and security. Space is limited and registration is required at


♦ Disney on Ice presents Treasure Trove, Sept. 13-16 at the Allstate Arena, 6920 N. Mannheim, Rosemont. For this spectacular, Disney opens its vault to offer a medley of scenes from eight classic films. Tickets are $13 to $70. Call (800) 745-3000 or visit

Jennifer Burklow is a local free-lance writer.

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