BATAVIA – With the return of Windmill City Festival, Batavia is about to throw a major summer party with favorite bands, children’s activities, an array of tempting edibles and other draws, including the Craft and Vintage Market featuring antiques and artisans.
“This year, we were kind of refocusing on more handmade, artist-made and vintage,” said market organizer Jennifer Putzier, director of the Batavia Depot Museum. “And there’s such good talent in this area, we wanted to be able to showcase talented artisans.”
Among the featured artists will be a Batavia native, Denise Karabowicz, an engineer by day with a passion for designing ceramic pieces meant to be used on an everyday basis in the home. She calls her line ChickaDeeClays based on a childhood nickname.
“With the engineer’s eye, I try very hard to balance [and] weigh the piece – how it feels in your hand, sits on a table,” Karabowicz said. “I want people to use the pieces – not [have them] sit on a shelf collecting dust.”
At the festival, she said she will feature her summer collection offering items such as colanders, including berry bowls, along with plates, bud vases, generously sized mugs and cups, and a two-piece French butter keeper.
Her chickadeeclays.etsy.com site shows a wide array of products and styles, including eye-catching pie and cake stands, the latter appearing draped in delicate linen.
“I throw [cake stands] in two separate pieces, the bottom and the plate part,” she said. “Once attached, I hand carve the whole bottom edge – the lacy ruffly pattern.”
Almost all of her pieces for the fest are dishwasher, microwave and food safe. She also designed a protective cellphone holder she calls a phone speaker because the side opening directs the sound in the owner’s direction, magnifying its reach.
“I grew up drawing and painting,” Karabowicz said. “For high school, I went to the Illinois Mathematics and Science Academy in Aurora and got involved in ceramics there [for] three years.”
She said she picked an engineering school in California specifically because it gave her leeway to continue her art classes.
“I took a ceramics class every semester,” she said.
When it came time to buy a house, she selected one with a basement she could convert into a ceramics studio to pursue her art form.
“It’s the most amazing stress reliever because you can create things with your hands,” she said. “I love the science aspect of it. I mix my own glazes. I maintain my kiln. I just converted my pottery wheel to a standing wheel, so I can stand and throw.”
She said she enjoys experimenting in ceramics, including using new glazes for totally different looks.
“I have a version of everything I make in my house,” Karabowicz said, noting ceramics by herself or other artists are what she uses every day. “I’ve really tested everything to make sure it works and is usable. I always add new things.”
For autumn shows, she has her own designs of “Harry Potter” inspired mugs that can be personalized for fans of Gryffindor and the other Hogwarts houses. Designs paying homage to “Dr. Who” and other TV and film favorites are part of her portfolio.
Putzier said the booth fees from the weekend Craft and Vintage Market will benefit Depot Museum offerings.
“We’re looking forward to a bigger lineup of events and programming,” Putzier said. “The Batavia Historical Society will have a booth at the … market and they will continue their popular Antiques on Main fundraiser for the [museum’s] expansion.”
Serving on the festival committee are representatives of the Batavia Park District, the city and Batavia Chamber of Commerce, which is in charge of the food booths expanded this year to offer more cuisines and specialty desserts.
In place of the carnival will be a new Fun Zone for families, said Katie Drum, director of marketing for the Batavia Park District.
The area will offer a variety of interactive inflatables with mazes, obstacles and other challenges along themes ranging from a wild animal zoo to a pirate ship and laser tag. For gravity-defying fun blending trampoline action with bungee-harness motion, there will be the quad power jump for people weighing 40 to 200 pounds.
To keep the Fun Zone more affordable, Drum said they will offer day and weekend passes good for unlimited access. In addition, separate $5 tickets will be sold for the quad jump.
People can prepurchase wristbands through July 13 at the Batavia Civic Center, 327 W. Wilson St. The weekend pass costs $40 for the full festival and includes three quad jumps. The day pass costs $15 and includes one quad jump.
“We’re definitely looking forward to seeing what people’s feedback is this year,” Drum said.
Among the popular bands returning will be 7th Heaven headlining July 15, Drum said.
“We also are introducing some new family-friendly musical acts on [July 16],” she said. “Miss Jamie’s Farm is playing at 1 p.m. for … preschoolers, and at 2 p.m., Istvan and His Imaginary Band [will] interact with the crowd and the kids … focused on kids 10 and under.”
Drum said traditional favorites of the fest include the diaper derby hosted by the Batavia Mothers’ Club, an ice cream-eating contest, fire hose and golf challenges and a pet parade.
Other favorites are the sidewalk chalk drawing contest and the Chuck the Duck Race in which competitors speed their rubber ducky along with a pump squirter.
Toss for a Cause will be the Batavia Parks Foundation’s annual bags tournament at 6 p.m. July 15.
“There’s something for everybody,” Drum said. “[There’s] a lot of stuff for young families. It’s a wonderful event, and it’s a great way for the community to also see all the … organizations come through.”
Raising money for its treasury by providing volunteers to assist at the beer garden will be the Rotary Club on July 14, the Batavia Fire Department on July 15, and the Batavia Parks Foundation on July 16.
More than 10,000 visitors are expected at the festival, Drum said.
If you go
WHAT: Windmill City Festival
WHEN: 4 p.m. July 14 through 6 p.m. July 16
WHERE: Downtown Batavia
COST: Free admission
INFO: windmillcityfest.org, 630-879-5235