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Village of Homewood unveils new event strategy to ignite community engagement

Local officials have devised a new strategy to bring the village together and showcase the unique character of Homewood through community events. This overall plan is meant to bring residents, businesses, and nonprofits together through various events to create memorable experiences and promote the community. 

The Village is trying to replicate the success of events such as Homewood’s Artisan Street Fair, which has grown in popularity. (Chronicle file photo)

Together, the Village of Homewood Events Manager Marla Youngblood and Communication and Engagement Specialist Antonia Steinmiller work with village officials and the internal communications team to coordinate popular events like the Homewood Artisan Street Fair and Fall Fest, which draw out massive crowds each year. 

While both Youngblood and Steinmiller are relatively new to their roles, having just been brought on last fall, the two haven’t wasted any time when it comes to preparing for the village’s event calendar. 

“When Antonia and I sat down to discuss events, there were three categories we wanted to focus on: the businesses in Homewood, the residents in Homewood, and the local nonprofits,” says Youngblood. 

The idea behind this strategy is to support Homewood businesses while encouraging residents to patronize the local shops and restaurants rather than traveling outside the village.

A youngster concentrates on a work of chalk art during the 2015 Art & Garden Fair in Homewood. The village is bringing back chalking in a big way this year with a new event focused on creating chalk art. (Chronicle file photo)
A youngster concentrates on a work of chalk art during the 2015 Art
& Garden Fair in Homewood. The village is bringing back chalking in
a big way this year with a new event focused on creating chalk art.
(Chronicle file photo)

Although events like Fall Fest have become a community tradition, Youngblood hopes to inspire new traditions. This year, the village introduces new events such as Gotts-Chalk the Walk on Sunday, July 23, a chalk walk highlighting local businesses; H-F Day at the Chicago White Sox on Sunday, July 30, where residents can purchase affordable tickets; and Chuck It for Charity-running from June through September, a community-wide garage sale where proceeds go directly back to a local charity. 

These events were created with community feedback in mind to expand inclusion. Despite family-friendly events, residents expressed interest in an event designed especially for children.

The residents spoke, and Youngblood listened. Thus, the Touch-a-Truck event is unveiled. This new, free event takes place on Saturday, August 26, and is geared toward kids of all ages and will feature a rock wall, face painting, balloon art, and a kids’ DJ, which will become a festival staple. 

“We’re here. We want to hear from residents and work with the community. We ask that residents give us the grace and patience to grow and learn,” says Youngblood, a long-time resident. “I’m a neighbor. I live here. If my neighbors have something they want to share or talk about, I’d love to hear it.” 

While Youngblood is in charge of planning and organizing the events, Steinmiller facilitates all communication for the village. In addition to new possibilities, she has streamlined the village’s website and social media, making it easier for guests to find the information they need. 

“We are advocates of transparent messaging,” says Steinmiller. “And we are trying to put out as much information as we can in terms of budget, ADA accessibility, and make it more user friendly.” 

Youngblood and Steinmiller welcome comments and feedback from the community because it allows them to implement that change at the next event. From creating more kid-friendly events to making spaces easy for those with disabilities, putting that commentary out there lets the village make those necessary improvements. 

You can find more information here and a schedule of upcoming events. 

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