This year marks the 40th anniversary of the Taste of Glen Ellyn, which will run May 18 through 21 in the parking lot at 420 N. Main St., between Duane Street and Hillside Avenue in downtown Glen Ellyn.
This year's festival will be bigger and better than ever with even more community involvement, said Dawn Smith, executive director of the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce, which organizes the annual kickoff to the summer festival season.
"For the first time, we are holding a second entertainment stage, which will be our community stage," Smith said. "The community stage will be chock full of entertainment from groups around the community."
For example, Luis Arturo Dance Academy in Glen Ellyn will participate in the festival, as well as The Bike Hub in Glen Ellyn, which will be doing bike tricks and safety demonstrations. Dogs from WoofBeach, a new business coming to downtown Glen Ellyn, will be performing tricks, Smith said.
The Taste of Glen Ellyn also will feature food from local restaurants, four days of live entertainment – including students from the School of Rock in Glen Ellyn – as well as a carnival, craft show and business expo.
The carnival, put on by the Glen Ellyn Fair Committee and Fantasy Amusement Co., will run May 17 through 21 in the Crescent Boulevard parking lot west of Main Street in downtown Glen Ellyn. Discounted tickets are available at the Glen Ellyn Chamber of Commerce office at 810 N. Main St., Glen Ellyn Public Library at 400 Duane St., Glen Ellyn Historical Society at 800 N. Main St. and downtown businesses, Smith said.
Those who attend the festival also will have the chance to paint flower pots that will later grace the downtown.
"We're partnering with Bottle & Bottega," Smith said. "They're creating murals on the outside of the flower pots, and we are putting them in downtown Glen Ellyn for a craft so the community can paint them."
The festival could not be put on without the help of volunteers, Smith said. More than 100 people help put on the festival every year.
That includes Brandee Martin of Glen Ellyn. Martin, who works at Block Advisors in Glen Ellyn, decided to volunteer at the festival for the first time in 2016. She worked in the Chamber of Commerce's food tent.
"I shucked corn and sold pizza and pop," she said. "You get to see a lot of people. I got to see a lot of my clients that are Glen Ellyn residents. I had a good time."
Martin, who now is on the chamber's Board of Directors, will be in charge of running the chamber's food tent at this year's festival.
"This involvement in the chamber really kind of gives me a different perspective of what's going on in town, which I really like," Martin said. "I didn't know we do all the things that we do."
Sue Martin and her husband, Thom, have been volunteering at the Taste of Glen Ellyn for 10 years. The longtime Glen Ellyn residents own TMC2 computer consulting in Glen Ellyn.
"When we joined the Chamber of Commerce, we wanted to contribute," she said. "It was so much fun that we do it every year. We look forward to it. And this year, our son and daughter-in-law are going to help us with it."
Smith said she likes that the festival brings together the whole community. Between 25,000 and 30,0000 attend the event each year.
"You see your neighbors, and you see the people in the community you shop with," she said. "Everyone is enjoying talking to each other, and then there is the food and the entertainment and the fun rides."
How to help
Volunteers still are needed for the Taste of Glen Ellyn. To apply, go to the Chamber of Commerce's website at glenellynchamber.com.
If you go
What: Taste of Glen Ellyn
When: May 18 through 21 (carnival begins May 17)
Where: Downtown Glen Ellyn