Photo: The Kaneland Arts Initiative on Friday celebrated the arts with its fifth annual Fine Arts Feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. KHS art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield plays the accordion for guests in attendance. Photo courtesy Sally Jane Photography
SUGAR GROVE—Rebecca Aimone is an Elburn resident and Kaneland parent who regularly attends the annual Fine Arts Feast.
Aimone believes it’s important to attend the event.
“We need art,” she said. “And we need music. And everybody should support this. It’s a part of life.”
This year marked the fifth annual fundraiser feast at Open Range Southwest Grill in Sugar Grove. The event took place on Friday evening in the Pine Room, a space adorned with white lights and covered in smooth wood from the ceiling to the walls.
Nearly 100 supporters attended the Kaneland Arts Initiative’s (KAI) Fine Arts Feast. According to Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI, $3,000 was raised at the event.
Dripps-Paulson said that KAI wants people to be “arts minded.” KAI offers the Fine Arts Festival, scholarships and performance series, and also puts money into the Kaneland School District.
“Everybody can be a sports fan,” Dripps-Paulson said. “But not everybody is an art lover. And we want to create more people who are art lovers. And by art, I mean all of the arts—fine arts, dance, all of those things.”
Laura McPhee, Board of Directors secretary and volunteer coordinator for KAI, said that the arts initiative is about community.
“It’s truly bringing the arts to every single person that is interested and wants to share that,” she said.
During the event, attendees had the opportunity to browse a variety of silent auction items ranging from Chicago Blackhawks tickets to a “Golfer’s Survival Kit.”
Raffle prizes included bookstore gift card, glass jewelry and orchestra tickets.
People dined on pasta, pizza and Ceasar salad.
Kaneland High School art teacher Emily VanDelinder-Birchfield played “Love Me Tender” on an accordion while many attendees flocked to grab desserts, including big, crisp chocolate chip cookies and tiny powdered sugar brownies.
The event also offered lots of live entertainment, as KAI representatives sang behind microphones. Dripps-Paulson had been part of the singing group she dubbed as Two and a Half Filipina. The group included her daughter Clara, 6, and Sugar Grove resident Estrellita Uzarraga.
Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, is also the artistic director of KAI. She sang for attendees during the event while Deanna Cates, president of the Board of Directors, accompanied on a keyboard.
McFarlin concluded her bit with the announcement that the KAI’s summer theatre production will be “Once Upon a Mattress.”
Uzarraga’s sons Matthew, 11, and Zachary, 8, stole the show as they bounded up on top of big boxes, stood behind tall mic stands and sang songs from “Les Miserables.”
The brothers are professional actors and have acted on Kaneland’s community stage.
“I like that you get to pretend to be someone whose life is cooler than life that could be in real life,” Matthew said of acting. “And more extraordinary.”
Matthew’s acting career has allowed him to be a different person, as well as a bear and an ogre.
“You can pretend you’re a different person and you can have a different life,” Zachary said.
The boys also know what it’s like to be on stage with the audience applauding.
“It felt like I was bringing joy into their lives,” Matthew said.