Tag Archives: Maria Dripps-Paulson


A feast fit for the arts

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.

Bowl against bullying

Event seeks to teach participants to “be happy”
AURORA—Local adults will soon have a chance to go out, bowl and have fun while learning, too.

“Bowling Against Bullying” is a collaborative endeavor hosted by Kindness Campaign, Nick Edward Haben Foundation and Peak for Kids. The event will take place Saturday, Feb. 8, at 7:30 p.m. at Parkside Lanes in Aurora.

The idea of this fundraising event is to have fun and promote kindness. According to Renee Dee, founder of Peak for Kids, Inc., the groups hope to use some proceeds from the bowling event for Kindness in Kaneland Week and Sugar Grove Corn Boil ideas.

“Basically, we thought it was a good kickoff event for both of our organizations,” Dee said. “(The organizations) are brand new, so it was a nice way to network and get to know everybody and have everybody know who we are and what we do.”

Marc Ebert, owner of Sign FX in Sugar Grove, a planning committee member for the “Bowling Against Bullying” event. He said that the event is a good networking possibility for local business owners.

“It kind of helps get the word out about the bullying,” Ebert said. “If it can come to light by talking about it—that’s kind of our M.O. It’s just, if we can get people to start talking about it, then something good happened. And maybe it can come to light and then so people don’t have to hide with it anymore.”

Jeff Bean, president and founder of Act on Bullying, will speak at the event about the dangers of the cyber bullying epidemic.

Those who attend “Bowling Against Bullying” can munch on pizza, drink soft drinks and bowl. A cash bar of beer and wine will also be available during the event.

Gave Ortiz of Go 4 It Entertainment will DJ the event. Dee said she wants the music to be about “being nice and being happy.” She anticipates hearing Bobby McFerrin’s 1988 song “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” during the event.

“I hope everybody will be dancing,” Dee said. “I’m meeting with the DJ. He’s got all sorts of little tricks that he does with the audience.”

There will even be some dance contests during “Bowling Against Bullying.” Attendees will also be able to place bids on silent and live auction items. Auction prizes include a week-long cabin in Wisconsin, and Chicago Cubs tickets. Raffle prizes include Kane County Cougars tickets, a beauty basket and restaurant gift certificates.

Author Amy Logan, a Joliet resident, will be in attendance to bowl and chat with attendees. She will also announce her book, “A Girl with a Cape.”

Trivia, led by DJ Ortiz, will center around bullying, community and kindness.

Those interested in attending the event can register by Friday, Jan. 31, by visiting peakforkids.org.

Individual tickets are $30 and include bowling, shoes, pizza and soft drinks. A registered group of 10 will get two lanes for some five-against-five bowling.

People can also count on more collaborations between Peak for Kids and groups from the Kaneland area and beyond. Dee said that there will be a leadership forum, performing arts projects and sport dedications to kindness.

“All of those specifics will be coming out in the next few months,” she said.

Meanwhile, the upcoming “Bowling Against Bullying” event is the current focus.

“I think (people) should (attend the event) because they believe that bullying is stoppable,” said Maria Dripps-Paulson, a committee member for the event. “And they want to be a part of that movement.”

The cast of “The Laramie Project” includes Justin Schaller (back row, from left), Ben Mitchinson and Patrick Murphy; Rebecca Hof (middle row), Pamela Gianakakos, Sabrina Massa, Laszlo Reed, Peter Lopatin and Trisha Mills; Douglas Orlyk (front row) and Caitrin Mills. Photo courtesy of Sally Jane Photography

‘The Laramie Project’ debuts on Kaneland stage

‘It’s a powerful, powerful production.’
KANELAND—The play “The Laramie Project,” presented by Kaneland Arts Initiative (KAI) and partnered with the Kindness Campaign, did not open on its expected opening day last Friday, due to frigid weather. However, the show was back on Saturday and Sunday.

Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of KAI, said the cancellation was justified.

“It was windy,” she said. “And the drifts—if the wind blew always the exact same direction, we’d be fine. Because it (kept) changing—at one point it was north and then it kind of came from the west—we just couldn’t keep up with the drift.”

Dripps-Paulson said Saturday had a turnout numbering in the 50s. Sunday had about 40 people.

“I believe that every person that came and saw the performance was moved by the performances,” Dripps-Paulson said. “It’s a powerful, powerful production.”

The drama played out on the intimate stage of Kaneland High School’s Black Box Theatre, depicting the feedback from the townspeople in Laramie, Wyo., following the brutal murder of Matthew Shepard in 1998.

Shepard was a gay college student who was driven to a remote area outside of Laramie where he was tied to a fence and beaten with a pistol.

“The Laramie Project” consisted of 11 cast members. According to Dripps-Paulson, six cast members were adults and five were Kaneland High School students. The youngest in the show were two freshman. “The Laramie Project” also showcased the acting talents of Kaneland School Board member Peter Lopatin and Pamela Gianakakos, who is a first-grade teacher at McDole Elementary School.

Each cast member played numerous roles—typically between six and eight characters.

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School and artistic director of “The Laramie Project,” referred to “The Laramie Project” play as a community project.

“We feel strongly that as part of what we try to do in bringing art to the community, that this was an important piece to spur and inspire really good conversations regarding acceptance and certainly kindness for all,” McFarlin said.

KAI and the Kindness Campaign lead an audience discussion following each performance.

“Certainly from our talk-back sessions that we had this weekend, our kids have experienced some feelings of not feeling very safe in school if they’re different,” McFarlin said. “It’s important to see that there are all kinds of people in this world. And everyone has a right to be safe and be accepted in our community.”

What can audiences learn from “The Laramie Project”?

“Out of great tragedy there is hope. Always,” Dripps-Paulson said. “So I think that would be a strong and good message for people to learn from. And I would hope that it would open up some conversations among people to see what true acceptance is.”

An invitation to support arts programs with your time and talents

by Maria Dripps-Paulson
KAI Initiative executive director

October was a full month for the Kaneland Arts Initiative (formerly the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival). The 2013-14 season started with two exciting performances that were very different from each other.

On Oct. 11, the Kaneland Arts Initiative (KAI) hosted Las Vegas magic act Garry and Mihaela Carson, who performed the “Magical Mystery Show” to the delight of the approximately 200 audience members attending the event. On Oct. 26, KAI was pleased to bring the Fox Valley Concert Band to the Kaneland Auditorium for the Fox Valley Concert Band’s Halloween Concert, which played to an audience of approximately 120.

Here are comments that volunteer members of KAI heard from those who attended the events:
• “(The magician) was really good. I mean, really, really good.”
• “I have been to all of your events, and they never disappoint.”
• “Thank you for bringing these types of performances to Kaneland.”
• “It’s great to hear wonderful live music like this in an amazing space.”
• “I cannot wait to see (these groups) again next year.”
• “I wish more people would come to these events. They really are amazing.”

In fact, KAI rarely hears a negative comment from audience members who attend KAI events, and 100 percent of the performers who take to the stage are willing and excited to come back to perform in Kaneland again.

We know that we are offering great arts programs to our community by the response the patrons give us who have attended an event, and by the eager requests to return that we receive from our performing artists. However, it is often difficult to assess when attendance at events is low. The Kaneland Arts Initiative provides a unique and affordable opportunity to experience the arts, and we invite every community member to partake in these events.

While two events on the KAI calendar have passed, there are many more still to come. By checking out the KAI website, www.kanelandartsinitiative.org, you will not miss another event.

Another way to support arts programs is to volunteer. Our volunteer coordinator, Laura McPhee, is fabulous at finding the perfect way for you to serve within our organization. We welcome volunteers of almost every age, and can use help with ushering and planning, as well as building and designing. Contact Laura at laura.mcphee@kaneland.org or by calling (630) 365-5100, ext. 180.

We invite you to support the arts at the following upcoming Kaneland High School and Kaneland Arts Initiative Events:

• “Almost, Maine,” the Kaneland High School fall play, directed by Christina Staker, will take place Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 15-17, at KHS Auditorium. Tickets are on sale now at www.kaneland.org
• Auditions for The Laramie Project, the KAI Winter Theatre Production, directed by Diane McFarlin, will take place on Tuesday, Nov. 19, at 6 p.m. in the KHS Black Box Theatre. More audition information will be available soon at www.kanelandartsinitiative.org.

The arts are a vital part of life, and Kaneland has so many wonderful programs offered throughout the year. We hope that you will accept our invitation to support them.

Editor’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at kbeebe@elburnherald.com. Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.

Dripps-Paulson receives Women of Distinction Award

KANELAND—Maria Dripps-Paulson is a Sugar Grove resident, executive director of the Kaneland Arts Initiative, and a recent recipient of the Women of Distinction Award, given out by Kane County Magazine

She said she’s not too sure what to make of the distinction award.

“I don’t know how I feel about it,” Dripps-Paulson said with a laugh. “At first I was really overwhelmed. It was, ‘Really, can’t you find anyone else who does more than me? Because I can.’”

It turned out that Dripps-Paulson fit the description of what it took to have this title.

Kane County Magazine recognizes women who have been nominated by community members and are considered role models and leaders in their fields and communities. These chosen women also have to have made a difference in Kane County.

Dripps-Paulson, 41, was nominated by her colleagues and friends who live in the Kaneland area, including Rebecca Hoff, Estrellita Uzarraga and Diane McFarlin.

Last week, Dripps-Paulson and the nine other award-chosen women were honored at a luncheon at Mill Creek Golf Club in Geneva.

“I was also in awe of the other nine women who were chosen,” Dripps-Paulson said. “People seemed to have everything. All of their ducks in a row. So, it definitely feels good to be recognized.”

She received a tall black trophy with her name etched in it and noting that she has made a difference and is a role model.

Because of Dripps-Paulson’s effort as KAI executive director, the community has had the chance to appreciate art for free during the annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival.

Dripps Paulson had been involved in this festival since its third year. It will celebrate its 15th anniversary on April 13, 2014, at Kaneland High School.

The fest’s inaugural event had a crowd of 205 attendees. Dripps-Paulson said 3,000 attended last year’s event.

Those who attend the Fine Arts Festival can expect to check out professional visual and performing artists. There have been acrylic, pencil and calligraphy work, a glass workshop, in-demand caricature artist drawing self and family pictures, the Chicago Ballet and Illinois Brass Band.

Thanks to Dripps-Paulson, the Kaneland School District students and staff have the opportunity to learn from and work with professional artists through the Artist in Residence Program. This year, the artist coming to town will be Margaret Fox, an opera singer.

Dripps-Paulson also has a hand in the fifth annual Kaneland Community Summer Theatre Program and even directs the pit band.

Kaneland Superintendent Jeff Schuler has referred to Dripps-Paulson as a “tireless volunteer.” In a statement, he noted that she has served on commissions and boards for hospitals and charities.

She also has a full house filled with her husband Tim, son Philip, 10, and triplet daughters Zoe, Naomi and Clara, 6.

Diane McFarlin, assistant principal at Kaneland High School, has glowing words to describe Maria.

“I think service is something that connected all of them,” McFarlin said. “And Maria’s energy has everything to do with serving others. And serving her community, serving the people in Kaneland and the people that are families.”

Maria’s family sure thinks she’s pretty special, too. Tim said that he was not surprised that Maria received the award.

“She’s just amazing,” he said. “She can do everything. Does everything well. She’s supportive and positive and good working with people—one of my weak points.”

Philip has his own list of reasons why his mom is special.

“The fact that, A, she gave birth to me, B, she gave birth to triplets,” Philip said. “C, she is very important in my aspects, her job. And D, I sort of think she’s famous now.”

Community Corner: The story of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival

by Maria Dripps-Paulson,
Executive director, Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival

Once upon a time, a little girl grew up on a farm in rural Illinois. She loved the arts, but was never given the opportunity to go to an art museum or meet a “real” artist in person.

When the little girl grew up, she became an art teacher in the Kaneland School District. Realizing that Kaneland was similar to the rural setting in which she grew up, the teacher began envisioning an event where students, family, and community, far removed from the art culture scene of Chicago, could experience the arts.

She dreamed of the Kaneland Community experiencing the arts in an interactive setting, absolutely free, and the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival was born.

Bonnie Whildin, the little girl turned art teacher, began teaching at Kaneland full time in 1985 with the idea of a Fine Arts Festival fresh in her mind. However, it was not until May 1998, with the collaborative help of another art teacher, that the first Festival actually became reality.

The first annual Kaneland Fine Arts Festival was a two-hour event at Kaneland South Elementary School (now Kaneland John Shields Elementary). Attendance was approximately 200 people, and the presenters were made up of local artists and musicians.

Since its inception 15 years ago, the KCFAF has grown beyond Mrs. Whildin’s vision. Now expanded to its seven-hour celebration of the arts, the Festival saw a need to utilize the Kaneland High School auditorium for performance events held throughout the year. Beginning officially in the fall of 2009, KCFAF began the Festival Performance Series, which brings professional, quality performances to the Kaneland auditorium at affordable prices.

In July 2010, the first annual Kaneland Community Summer Theatre production was performed on the Kaneland High School stage, and will continue this summer with the production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.”

This year’s Festival will take place on Sunday, April 21, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information can be found on www.kanelandartsfestival.org or www.facebook.com/kcfaf302.

Publisher’s note
The above community-submitted column is one part of our broader mission to help our readers connect with their communities. If you or your organization would like to be part of our Community Corner initiative, please contact Editor Keith Beebe at kbeebe@elburnherald.com. Please note that no for-profit or elected officials are eligible to be part of the Community Corner.

Letter: Time is running out for the public to see ‘Cinderella’

Time is running out to see the last Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) event of the year, Rodgers and Hammerstein’s “Cinderella.” After a successful first run, the show is scheduled to have one more weekend of performances, beginning on Friday, July 20, through Sunday, July 22. Friday and Saturday performances begin at 7 p.m., and the Sunday performance begins at 2 p.m.

Besides the popular music, classic fairytale storyline and the state-of-the-art facility, patrons of the show were pleased to make crowns and wands with their children (for free), as well as have the opportunity for a photo shoot with some of the characters after the show (for a small donation).

Adults appreciated the family-friendly atmosphere and the affordable ticket prices. Tickets are $10 for adults, $8 for students/senior citizens and $25 for the Family Ticket. The Family Ticket admits all members currently living in one household for the single price of $25. Tickets are available online (www.kanelandartsfestival.org) and at the box office an hour before the show begins.

Parents are reminded to bring a camera for the photo shoot after the program, but flash photography and video recording are not allowed during the performance. It is suggested that patrons bring a light sweater or jacket for the performance, as the Kaneland Auditorium is air conditioned.

The Kaneland Auditorium is located on the campus of Kaneland High School, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park, IL 60151. Inquiries should be directed to Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of the KCFAF, at maria.drippspaulson@kaneland.org.

Maria Dripps-Paulson
Executive director, Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival

Thousands turn out for fine arts fest

Photo: Visitors to the 2011 Kaneland Fine Arts Fest Sunday were treated to hundreds of pieces of art, and were even invited to add their own. A gallery will load below the story. Photo by Ben Draper

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—Another year, another successful display of visual and performing arts by the Kaneland community.

The 12th annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) was held from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, and offered glass, dance and painting workshops, various artists and performance ensembles to an audience that ranged from first-time viewers to highly experienced art spectators. Approximately 3,000 people attended the Fine Arts Festival this year.

The great weather this weekend probably didn’t hurt the crowd turnout, either.

“I was so pleased with this year’s festival. The weather held up, and many people came (to the event) for the very first time,” KCFAF Executive Director Maria Dripps-Paulson said. “I think that having great publicity pre-event led to many people coming to check us out. The festival was also a success because it’s free, which fits perfectly into many families’ budget these days. I simply love seeing people of every age group immersing themselves in the fine arts.”

Performance art on display during the festival included a hands-on workshop featuring the AMEBA Acrobatic and Aerial Dance Company. Visual forms of art, including pencil art, watercolors and calligraphy, were also demonstrated during the event, which was held at Kaneland High School.

The Fine Arts Festival is just a part of the artistically driven month of April in the Kaneland community. The KCFAF Juried Art Show, in its third year, is on display at the Sugar Grove Library all month long. The Juried Art Show features 18 artists and over 50 works of art.

Despite the success of this year’s Fine Arts Festival, Dripps-Paulson said she’d like to improve a few aspects of the event.

“I feel like we need to re-evaluate the performing artist part of the festival,” she said. “I heard a lot of comments like, ‘I didn’t even get to see the performers,’ which doesn’t make me happy for the performers. Some festival-goers are also torn between seeing pavilion performers and auditorium performers. Maybe we simply need to work on tweaking the schedule more.”

Dripps-Paulson also said performing artists are at more of a disadvantage than visual artists during the festival.

“Audiences kind of dabble and walk around all the artists, and you can walk up to an artist and in five or 10 minutes, be happy with your interaction and then walk out. But if you do that for a performing artist, well, it’s kind of insulting,” she said. “And you’re not really seeing their performance.”

The performing arts do not stop when the Fine Arts Festival ends, however, as there is a festival performance series that is featured year-round at the high school. The next performing event is “Bye Bye Birdie,” which will be a summer theatre production. Auditions will begin in May, with two weekend performances in July.

“We’ve pulled out a whole festival series that goes year-round to honor the performers so that there aren’t people walking in and out of their performance,” Dripps-Paulson said.

Committee readies for 2011 Fine Arts Festival

Kaneland Fine Arts Festival
Sunday, April 10
11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
High School

Photo: Handmade arts and crafts will be on display at the 12th annual Kaneland Fine Arts Festival, set for Sunday, April 10, at Kaneland High School. File Photo

by Keith Beebe
KANELAND—All things artistic will be on display during the 12th annual Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) on Sunday, April 10. And this year’s festivities will include dance, glass and painting workshops, caricature artists, various music ensembles, a live performance of School of Rock, and an art experience for pre-Kindergarten children.

To say there will be something for everyone at this festival might be a bit of an understatement.

“The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival will provide another year of spectacular opportunities to immerse oneself in the arts, (and) people of all ages will be able to participate in watching the amazing artists present their work throughout the day,” KCFAF Executive Director Maria Dripps-Paulson said. “We will have another year of our Pre-K Art Experience offered throughout the entire day in the Fox Valley Career Center Child Care Center, with interactions with the KHS Art Club as well as puppets and storytelling.”

The 2011 Fine Arts Festival, which will take place from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. at Kaneland High School, typically draws close to 3,000 people each year and is a main attraction during the arts-oriented month of April in the Kaneland School District. In addition to the festival, the KCFAF will present its third-annual Juried Art Show at the Sugar Grove Public Library throughout the month of April. The show will feature 18 artists and over 50 works of art on display. A reception and awards show will take place at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, April 14, at the library.

Dripps-Paulson said the Sugar Grove Public Library is an outstanding place in which to showcase art, citing it as one way to try and unite the many communities of Kaneland, working with public and visual entities within the school’s boundary.

“We understand that the Kaneland District boundary covers many municipalities, and the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival tries to have as much representation from the different communities as possible,” she said.

Visual art styles such as pencil art, acrylic and oil painting, watercolors and calligraphy will also be well represented during the festival. However, boasting a wealth of performing and visual artists as well as a healthy crowd turnout each year isn’t about to cause anyone on the KCFAF committee to forget about the tight festival budget.

“We’re expecting upwards of 3,000 people again this year, and even though (all of the planning) is coming together quite nicely, we have to really keep track of our finances to make sure we’re all in check,” said Kara Berth, a KCFAF committee member. “But it hasn’t really been a problem because we’ve worked really well together and we’ve done a few fundraising efforts that turned out nicely for us. People are still out there supporting the arts, which is great.”

According to Berth, those fundraiser efforts include a few mailers to businesses, and a feast that took place on Feb. 19.

With the festival coming up in just over a week, the committee’s focus has been on making sure all of the festival’s small details are accounted for.

“The festival is so close, (and) with spring break this week, it makes it a little more difficult to tie up all the loose ends,” said Bonnie Whildin, a KCFAF committee member and an art teacher at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School.

KCFAF Committee member Colleen Grigg said she believes some of the festival’s appeal comes from the city-caliber artistic talent it draws out to the Kaneland community.

“The feedback is so positive from anyone who goes, and it’s just a good time with a variety of stuff to do,” she said. “The festival can hold the interest of my 2-year-old daughter and also my parents, who are in their sixties. It’s really just wide appealing to all groups of people.”

Fine Arts Festival gives update

The Kaneland School Board on Monday evening was presented with an update and preview of the 2011 Kaneland Fine Arts Festival by Maria Dripps-Paulson and the Fine Arts Festival Committee. The festival will be held Sunday, April 10, at Kaneland High School, and will feature performing artists, hands-on workshops and visual artist demonstrations.

Tickets on sale for next Festival Performance Series event

Kaneland—Tickets will go on sale Monday evenings from 7 to 9 p.m. on Nov. 1, 8 and 15 at the Kaneland High School Box Office for the next event in the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival’s Next Festival Performance Series.

The event, Jazz Spectacular, will be held 6:45 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 19, in the Kaneland High School Auditorium.

The concert will begin with jazz dance by the critically acclaimed State Street Dance Studio, followed by the Kaneland High School Jazz Band, who will have enjoyed a workshop with the NIU Jazz Ensemble and its director, Ron Carter.

The highlight of the concert is the Northern Illinois University Jazz Ensemble with guest soloist and jazz trombonist Wycliffe Gordon.

For reserved tickets, adults pay $10 each, students and senior citizens pay $8 each, and family members who currently live in one household can purchase the Family Ticket for $23, admitting all of the members for one price.

Please contact Maria Dripps-Paulson at maria.drippspaulson@kaneland.org if you have questions. Order forms are available on the festival website www.kanelandartsfestival.org.

To our veterans, active service personnel
To participate in the Kaneland School District’s schedule of events to commemorate Veterans Day, call (630) 365-8170, ext. 119, or e-mail bonnie.whildin@kaneland.org.

‘The Music Man’

Kaneland arts festival’s first summer show
by Paula Coughlan
KANELAND—Kaneland will turn into River City when the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival presents “The Music Man.”

“The Music Man” will be the first summer-stock musical for the festival, which has presented adult and youth art shows and individual performers since 1998.

Performances will take place Friday through Sunday, July 16, 17, and 18, at the Kaneland High School auditorium.

The show’s director, Diane McFarlin, Kaneland High School assistant principal, has enjoyed live theater—acting and directing—locally and in New York for 30 years.

“I love to work with actors and character development,” she said.

Led by Kaneland alumnus Matt Scharlau as “The Music Man” character Harold Hill. The performance features actors aged 8 through 77.

The actors rehearsed last week for their “trouble” and “train” scenes, with McFarlin drumming her hand on the table to set the cadence for Harold Hill’s oration. Meanwhile, technicians tested backdrops, and choreographer Maggie McCord moved dancers through their paces for a library scene.

Linda Miller, who plays Mrs. Paroo in the show, sings a solo in the production. She became involved in theater when her son started acting at the community college level, she said.

Maria Dripps-Paulson, director of the Fine Arts Festival, has worked with McFarlin before, when they both taught in the Kaneland district.

“This is our first collaboration in several years,” Dripps-Paulson said, “and we’re really hoping it’ll be a success.”

McFarlin said she is grateful to the Kaneland School District for providing a venue for the production. She added that the sound system in the auditorium is top-notch.

For a list of cast and crew members (more volunteers are needed), visit www.kaneland-artsfestival.org.

Show times and tickets

7 p.m.
Friday and Saturday, July 16 and 17;
and at 2 p.m.
Sunday, July 18.

$10 each, $8 for students
and senior citizens (age 65-plus),
$23 for a family ticket (household).
Reservations are required.
Purchase online at

Photo: Cast members practice a song for the upcoming performance of “The Music Man,” set to premier Friday, July 16. Photo by Paula Coughlan

Kaneland arts festival wins state award

Kaneland—The Illinois Alliance for Arts Education (IAAE) awarded the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival the 2010 Public and Community Service Award at the Executive Mansion in Springfield on March 18.

Diane McFarlin, Colleen Grigg, Joann Murdock and Maria Dripps-Paulson represented the 29 faculty and community member planning committee, accepting the award on their behalf and on behalf of the Kaneland School District.

The only Illinois organization affiliated with the Kennedy Center, the IAAE awards schools, organizations and individuals throughout the state for their promotion of the arts, particularly within the schools. The plaque will be on display at this year’s festival on Sunday, April 18, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. More information on the festival can be found at www.kanelandartsfestival.org.

Photo: Colleen Grigg (left to right), Joann Murdock, Diane McFarlin and Maria Dripps-Paulson are Representatives of the KCFAF Planning Committee. Courtesy Photo

Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert set for Jan. 8

KANELAND—Lee Murdock’s Annual Hometown Concert returns to the rural theme in 2011 as he welcomes southern Indiana farmer-songwriter-actor Tim Grimm as the special guest on the first Saturday of the new year.

As part of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival’s Concert Series, the concert takes place at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Jan. 8, at the Kaneland High School auditorium, 47W326 Keslinger Road, Maple Park. Tickets are $10 and can be purchased at the door.

Tim Grimm is an award-winning songwriter, actor and hay farmer, living and working on the family homestead—a farm originally homesteaded by a family named Needham. In the late 1990s, Tim left Hollywood and a successful acting career to focus his life on his family and his art, a conscious choice to live a life of significance rather than one of “success.” Tim’s songs are full of the rural rumblings that have shaped his life, celebrating the inextinguishable national romance with the idea of the family farm and the vanishing landscape of rural America. 

Tim’s movie appearances include “Clear and Present Danger” with Harrison Ford, and “Public Enemies” with Johnny Depp and Christian Bale.

Lee Murdock is known internationally as “North America’s Great Lakes Balladeer,” and also as a fluent instrumentalist on six- and 12-string guitar. In addition to the songs of Illinois history and maritime music, Murdock also has a strong affinity for Irish music and Illinois history, as well as blues, ragtime and a bit of classical guitar. Murdock and his wife, Joann, have been Kaneville residents since 1982.

Audiences at the Hometown Concert can expect a round of impromptu jamming between Murdock and Grimm in the second set. Each year, the concert opens with a short set by Lee and by the guest artist, followed by an intimate “song swap” with both artists on stage for the second set.

Lee Murdock’s Hometown Concert is an annual event which now draws people from all across the Chicagoland area. Advance reservations are not needed, but call (630) 557-2329 for directions or further information.

The Hometown Concert continues its second season in collaboration with the Kaneland District’s Fine Arts Festival. This is the second of four major events, to be followed by the free multi-stage and multi-media event from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 10, and by the Second-annual Kaneland Community Theater production running for two weekends in July.

For more information on the Kaneland Community Arts Festival, contact Maria Dripps-Paulson, Community Liaison for the festival, at (630) 365-5100 ext 180  or maria.drippspaulson@kaneland.org .

Tickets on sale for Festival Performance Series

MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival (KCFAF) is launching a new performing arts series this fall, including The Magic of the Spellbinder on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. at the Kaneland High School Auditorium.

The Magic of the Spellbinder is the inaugural performance of the Festival Performance Series and tickets are on sale now.

Walter King, Jr., a.k.a. The Spellbinder, has entertained audiences across the country from the 2009 Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival to the Mirage and Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

The Spellbinder has exclusive experience and training in theater, film, and special effects. The Spellbinder is an African American Illusionist-Magician, who has performed with stars like Bill Cosby, Gladys Knight, Jennifer Hudson, and the Temptations.

This show is appropriate for people 5 and older. For more information on the Spellbinder, visit www.magicofthespellbinder.com.

Ticket prices are $10 for adults, $8 for students and senior citizens, and $23 for a family ticket. A family ticket admits all the family members who reside in the same residence.

Purchasing presale tickets is encouraged. Ticket forms are available in all of the buildings of the Kaneland School District as well as the Kaneland website at www.kaneland.org.

Questions and comments can be directed to Maria Dripps-Paulson, executive director of the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival, at (630) 365-5100, ext. 180.

Ticket winners for the Magic of the Spellbinder
MAPLE PARK—The Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival announced the following ticket winners for the Magic of the Spellbinder, the inaugural event of the Festival Performance Series on Saturday, Sept. 12, at 7 p.m. in the Kaneland High School Auditorium.
• Bridget Hankes-Ixpata
• Brandi Tyse
• Carol Harvell
Participants entered their names in a drawing at the Sugar Grove Farmers Market, the Sugar Grove Corn Boil, and KanevilleFest to win free tickets to the Sept. 12 event. Tickets are now on sale for this event and forms are available at the main offices in all of the Kaneland School District buildings as well as online at www.kaneland.org.

Fine Arts Festival becomes a series

by Susan O’Neill
KANELAND—More than 3,000 people attended Kaneland’s Fine Arts Festival this year, an event that has expanded and become more popular since it began almost 10 years ago.

Building on its success, the Fine Arts Committee plans to expand the festival into a series of performing arts events, and will hire Maria Dripps-Paulson to direct the series.

Paulson is the former Kaneland School band director, who left her full-time position several years ago to raise her family.

“We are very excited to have Maria’s continued involvement,” School Board President Lisa Wiet said.

Funding for the series will not involve district money, but will come from donations from businesses and organizations and from sales. The budget for this year’s festival was $36,000. The Kaneland Foundation has increased its funding this year from $5,000 to $7,000.

Wiet said she looks forward to offering more opportunities for the arts to the community as well as opening up the school’s auditorium for the community’s use.

The series will begin as a pilot project and will include the following events:
Fall: State Street Dance Ensemble (professional Chicago-based troupe)
Winter: Lee Murdock concert
Spring: Fine Arts Festival
Summer: A locally-produced summer theatre performance

Kaneland Fine Arts Festival set for April 19

When the Kaneland Community Fine Arts Festival opens its doors on Sunday, April 19, at Kaneland High School, visitors will be invited to look, touch, hear, see, smell, taste and participate fully in an amazing choice of arts experiences.

The Fine Arts Festival was created as a way to expose all people in the community to the fine arts in as many forms as possible. Admission is free. The event runs from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Student work will be presented along with a juried fine art show. Performances will take place in the new fine arts theater on campus, and the cafeteria will be transformed into the less-formal Arts Pavilion setting for additional performances, workshops and refreshments for purchase from the high school’s culinary arts kitchen. Workshops in glass fusing, drum making, Aztec dancing and etching are only a few of the hands-on activities offered. Face painting, caricatures and a “Spontaneous Folk Ensemble” (bring your instrument, or just sing along) are other activities that welcome participation by attendees of all ages and experience levels.

“We are very proud to be able to include a number of Kaneland High School graduates in our professional artist lineup again this year,” said Bonnie Whildin, Art Specialist at Kaneland John Stewart Elementary School. “Christine Marie Heath, a vocalist working in musical theatre and on opera stages from Broadway to international, will appear at the Fine Arts Festival on Sunday. And playwright Nic Wehrwein, another Kaneland graduate whose work has won national acclaim, will present a new work performed in readers’ theater format featuring Kaneland alumni.”

For more information on the festival, contact Maria Dripps-Paulson, Community Liaison for the festival, at (630) 365-5100 ext. 180 or e-mail maria.drippspaulson@ kaneland.org.

Kaneland Community
Fine Arts Festival
Sunday, April 19
11 am to 6 pm
Kaneland High School
47W623 Keslinger Road
Maple Park
Admission is free
Look, touch, hear, see, smell, taste and participate fully
in an amazing choice
of arts experiences.
For more information, contact Maria Dripps-Paulson
(630) 365-5100 ext. 180 or e-mail