Octo Street Fest is full of wonder on Oct. 14...

Octo Street Fest is a new fall festival on Saturday, Oct. 14 in downtown Aurora. Held behind New York Street’s Restaurant Row on Pinney Street, Octo Street Fest brings artists, musicians, and street performers together for an afternoon of wonder. The new festival is unique and one-of-a-kind to downtown Aurora. It features the mystical, the magical, and the absurd. There won’t be any animals, but human performers will entertain with hula hoops, card readings, fire dance, and more. “Aurora Downtown’s events committee wanted to create a new event that paired up with a Saturday in fall and could really show off another side of our arts scene. It’s full of wonder. It’s magical. It’s dark. It’s absurd and mystical. Mostly, it’s entertaining and entirely downtown Aurora,” said Marissa Amoni, events and community outreach director for Aurora Downtown. Octo Street Fest will also showcase the restaurants and businesses along Restaurant Row, including Basement of the Dead, Endiro Coffee, Ballydoyle, Gillerson’s Grubbery, and others. Local artist Josh Schultz designed the event poster, which features an octopus wearing a top hat and holding a wand. “Schultz came up with the octopus idea, and we liked what an octopus represents. It’s not only a play on words with it being a festival in October, but an octopus could be doing so many things with those eight arms. In downtown Aurora, we’re doing a lot with arts and culture, so it seemed to be a great fit,” Amoni said. A dozen artists with a darker aesthetic are setting up along artist row, curated by Teresa Fiehn. Music by Brian Kovacs at 2 p.m., Luis and I at 4 p.m., and The Peachtree at 6 p.m. Katiepillar Performance Art performs throughout the day with a fire dance performance at 5...

Leland Legends serves up great food, new ownership...

By Brendon Kolodziej and Victoria Alexander Leland Legends is renowned for serving up some nostalgically-hip libations, as well as exquisite meals ranging from ribeye steaks to a wide variety of sandwiches. Located at the base of the iconic Leland Tower in downtown Aurora, the restaurant also recently welcomed its new owner, Ron Woerman. The proposition was offered to him one day out of the blue, he said. “Within weeks it went from a conversation—to us taking over (Leland Legends)” from its previous owner, David Karadema. No novice to the restaurant industry, Woerman is also the general manager of the popular Spartan House, located at 1032 Prairie St. in Aurora, as well as O’Malley’s Pub and Eatery, an Irish sports bar on Hill Ave. Currently focusing his energy on this new venture, Woerman, when asked about possible changes, explained, “Short-term, we’ve changed the menu,” condensed it, and “made it more practical for the size of the kitchen.” He mentioned that the previous menu was fairly extensive, but that a wider selection of beers is being adopted as well as new cocktails. He has no immediate plans to alter anything drastically, he said, such as changing the name or restyling the overall image, citing that the previous owner had done a “great job” with the restaurant’s direction. Woerman also expressed a willingness to be flexible in regards to the menu, stating, “If we put something [in it] that doesn’t work then we can always take it [out] and reprint it,” obviating at his readiness to tailor their menu towards what he thinks will better reflect the preferences of his clientele.   Woerman also understands that the rich history of the tower is something people cherish, and he fully plans to uphold its legacy while still embracing...

Painted lightbulbs shine a light on suicide in downtown Aurora...

By Brendon Kolodziej September 1 marked the start of National Suicide Prevention Month. To help spread awareness, a local organization kick-started a campaign utilizing the unique blend of art, culture, and community for which the city is widely known. Shine the Light on Suicide showcases the works of local artists in the form of large, masterfully-painted lightbulb sculptures, which can be discovered scattered around downtown Aurora. The artists’ work serves as a reminder to people, and the community at large: Suicide is a serious epidemic that cannot be ignored. In addition to the twenty art sculptures out on display on the streets of Aurora (14 are found in downtown Aurora), the Shine the Light on Suicide campaign created by Simply Destinee, a youth dance team whose mission is to encourage awareness and understanding when it comes to suicide, is sponsoring a slew of events all month long. Such events, from poetry readings on Sept. 19, to informative presentations by the Kane Co. Sheriff, Suicide Prevention Services, and Simply Destinee on Sept. 20, both at Santori Library, will focus on promoting both the awareness and prevention of suicide. The events and festivities began at Aurora Downtown’s First Fridays in September. Aurora Downtown, an organization of business and property owners within SSA #One is also a sponsor of the project.  More community events focused around Shine the Light on Suicide kicked-off Sept. 2 at Fox Valley Mall with a public meet and greet with the artists, as well as performances and speeches by Rep. Linda Chapa LaVia, Hope for a Day, and the Aurora Police Department. On Sept. 5 at Aurora’s City Hall, Mayor Richard Irvin signed a proclamation allowing for the erection of street art associated with the cause. This proclamation officially gave artists and local...

First Fridays welcomes two outdoor events, over 20 venues on Sept 1...

  DOWNTOWN AURORA – First Fridays hosts two outdoor events plus more than 20 venues open with art, music and more on Sept. 1. Stolp Island Block Party, hosted by the Aurora Downtown organization of downtown business and property owners, features live art, live music, an outdoor market, a beer tent, and more from 6 to 10 p.m. on Stolp Avenue from Galena Boulevard to Downer Place. It’s the second block party of the year with the first one in August bringing more than 1,000 attendees. More than a dozen artists will once again create live art on Stolp in front of If These Walls Could Talk, who is curating the art portion of the evening. The First Fridays summer concert series caps off with The Desperate Bastards at 6 p.m. and Miles Nielsen and the Rusted Hearts at 8 p.m. at the gazebo at Millennium Plaza. Aurora is the last stop for Nielsen’s summer tour before heading back to Rockford, Ill. An outdoor market features fresh, locally grown produce from Renewed Roots Initiative; baked goods by Frosted Fig and Atrevete Confections; homemade soaps from Aroma Roots; essential oils and more from Illuminate Space; and pickled goods from Just Divine Foods. Food vendors include Grumpy Gaucho, Wurst Kitchen, and . Gillerson’s Grubbery is setting up a beer tent at the festivities. Additional food vendors including Joe’s Street Kitchen, Yum Dum, and others will be set up on Water Street Mall from 5 to 9 p.m. for the annual Roots Aurora, a cultural celebration benefiting Family Focus. Roots Aurora offers a variety of diverse entertainment including Simply Destinee, youth performers from Segundo Ruiz Belvis Cultural Center, and Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl. A talent show showcasing local youth begins the evening. Art openings, live music, and more...

Alley Art Fest returns to Water Street Mall on Aug 26...

Alley Art Festival returns to Water Street Mall in downtown Aurora from noon to 5 p.m. on Saturday, Aug. 26.   Alley Art Festival will fill the tree-lined, pedestrian-friendly mall between Downer Place and Galena Boulevard with local art, music, food, spectacle, and fun for the day.   The festival continues to be one of the largest gatherings of local artists in the Fox Valley, bringing more than 60 artists to display their original works, prints, and creations.     “Alley Art Fest continues to provide an opportunity for the community to support local artists while enjoying a fun day downtown,” said organizer Marissa Amoni.   Joining the hip and eclectic lineup of art this year is Dept., a group of teachers from Naperville Central High School including Daniela Cirone, Danielle Figueroa, Becky Mancuso, Amy Murphy, and Greg Padgett. Fox Valley Robotics will be demonstrating robots and have a Lego build activity. A children’s art tent will also feature hands-on, creative opportunities.   Alley Art Festival was started in 2010 by Marissa Amoni, Jen Evans, Lisa Green, and Nate Miller. The festival is supported by artists and volunteers, and is sponsored by Downtown Auroran Magazine, Aurora Downtown, and the City of Aurora’s Neighborhood Festival Funding.   The day-long festival is family-friendly, and welcomes patrons of all ages to patronize local artists, listen to local music, and support local food vendors.   To find out more about Alley Art Festival, visit Alley Art Festival on Facebook or online at...