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Concerts

Riverside Folk Fest to bring community together through music

Students from the Riverside Center for Imaginative Learning perform during the 2017 Riverside Folk Fest at Cantigny Park near Wheaton. The fourth annual Riverside Folk Fest will be from 1 to 5 p.m. June 23 at Cantigny Park.
Students from the Riverside Center for Imaginative Learning perform during the 2017 Riverside Folk Fest at Cantigny Park near Wheaton. The fourth annual Riverside Folk Fest will be from 1 to 5 p.m. June 23 at Cantigny Park.

WHEATON – Riverside Center for Imaginative Learning founder and creative director Peter Searby hopes the center's annual folk festival helps bring people together through music.

"One of the most authentic things I think is music rooted in kind of a folk culture," Searby said. "These timeless songs bring people together."

The fourth annual Riverside Folk Fest will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. June 23 at Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road near Wheaton. General admission is $5 for the general public. Cantigny members are asked to give a suggested donation.

All proceeds benefit a scholarship fund for boys and girls who want to participate in Riverside's programs. Through the center, students creatively collaborate as they play music, put on theatrical and film performances, and produce newspapers and broadcasts, according to the center's website.

"Each year, whatever money that we make at the festival goes toward a fund that will support families that can't afford our programs," Searby said.

The center's students will perform as part of the festival, including the Riverside Folk Band, a student-led group. The Chicago folk group Glass Mountain will headline the festival.

"We've had them once before," Searby said. "I love their music, so I'm very grateful that they're part of this year's fest."

To Searby's pleasure, the folk fest continues to grow.

"Every year, it's kind of developing and becoming much more of a tradition," he said.

Riverside holds its programs at Mayslake Peabody Estate in Oak Brook.

"They actually have a lot of programming and events based on arts and nature," Searby said. "Four years ago, when we came to them, they loved what we were doing, so we started renting space from them."

The center also recently opened a second location at a 26-acre farm in Big Rock.

"We're starting all sorts of programs there," Searby said. "We do everything from a farm camp to horseback riding, archery, canoeing and all sorts of outdoor activities."

Searby is a former teacher who opened Riverside Center for Imaginative Learning to give more hands-on learning opportunities to kids.

"I kind of began to develop a pedagogy that didn't seem to fit in the system, kind of based in creativity, imagination, the outdoors and getting kids to do real hands-on projects rather than a little bit more of a passive environment that I ran into based on testing and just getting them into college," he said. "I wanted to start a new type of program that focused solely on creativity, imagination and getting kids to work, either by building and making things or connecting with nature with kind of adventurous activities."

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If you go

WHAT: Fourth annual Riverside Folk Fest

WHEN: 1 to 5 p.m. June 23

WHERE: Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road near Wheaton

COST: $5

INFO: rside.org

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