By Kevin Beese
Pulling a village-wide celebration together in just more than two months may seem like a massive undertaking, but Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey wants to give it a shot.
Harvey is looking to put a Taste of Bellwood together for Aug. 5-6 at Stevenson Park, an event he sees as an opportunity to showcase Bellwood businesses and bring residents out for a two-day celebration. He said village leaders are getting advice from Melrose Park officials, who put on the state’s second largest Taste event, as the clock is ticking on Bellwood’s efforts. He noted that Melrose Park spends eight months prepping for its annual Labor Day weekend festival. Bellwood, on the other hands, has less than eight weeks. “Melrose Park starts in January. We started at the end of May,” Harvey said this week.
The mayor knows the tall order he is calling village staff to coordinate. “It will be tough to do,” Harvey said during this week’s village Committee of the Whole meeting. Harvey said he could live with the event being small this year and growing in size for future years. The mayor sees the free event being an extension of the village’s annual Family Day Picnic, which was held every year in early August. The annual picnic, conducted at Stevenson Park and the Village Hall parking lot, featured family and children’s activities, entertainment, a water spray park and an antique car show.
“The residents deserve it,” Harvey said of going to a two-day village summer celebration. “The picnic was just one day. The Taste would be over two days.”
Harvey hopes a carnival will be part of the Taste event. He also envisions a performance stage, providing the opportunity to showcase local talent, as part of the event.
He wants Bellwood businesses, especially restaurants, to be part of the festivities. Giving Bellwood vendors an opportunity to showcase their wares and giving residents a marquee celebration are the impetus behind the event, the mayor said.
“We are going to bring in entertainment and I want us to have a lot of food,” Harvey said. The mayor said both the Proviso East and Proviso West marching bands have committed to be a part of the festivities. He hopes that festival parking can be worked out at both Nicor and the Memorial Park District.
Harvey said vendors from other communities can participate in the event.
“Merchants from other villages will be welcome,” Bellwood’s mayor said. “If we can help Broadview, Maywood, Hillside, that helps all of us. Hopefully, our businesses can be part of those towns’ events in the future.”
While happy to help neighboring businesses, Harvey said, the Taste is primarily aimed at raising the awareness of Bellwood businesses among residents.
“We want to get our businesses in there, get them before customers,” Harvey said.