Custard Street Fair Guide — 2012 Edition
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CUSTER'S Last Stand

Custer’s Last Stand Street Fair, an Evanston summer staple, started in 1972 with a simple plan to bring more attention to Custer Avenue area businesses. The street was named after General George Armstrong Custer for his service to the Union during the Civil War, and Eve Noonan, a Custer Avenue building owner, wanted to tie its namesake to the proceedings. Since Custer’s birthday falls during the dead of winter, which doesn’t make for pleasant festival wandering, the south Evanston festival chose the date of the general’s historic last stand instead: June 25th.

Noonan remembers that first event as a “really amateur street fair.”

“We had to fight hard just to close that one block of Custer, our decorations were rags hung from ropes strung from buildings to the railroad track area. There were about 15 crafts or antique booths,” she recalls. Despite its humble beginnings, the Custer Fair, has blossomed into an important event for south Evanston businesses and the community as a whole, attracting more than 70,000 participants. There are now more than 400 booths at the fair, offering original art and craft work, antiques and the tantalizing fare of local restaurateurs.

“It has retained the unique character of the original event,” says festival director John Szostek. “Friendly, social, artistic, family-friendly, fun and more importantly - brings customers to our shopping district.” During its 41 year run, the Custer Fair has established many “fan favorite” performances. Some returning popular entertainment acts include Corky Siegel, as well as the much-loved Native American Pow Wow performed by The American Indian Center, which has been a prominent feature of the Custer Fair for the past 25 years.

At Eiden Park, kids can enjoy free balloon sculptures and family-friendly exhibits. Fifty variety performers will display their array of talents with juggling, magic, comedy and music.

With two performance stages, the entertainment continues throughout the day Saturday and Sunday. During the daytime hours there will be kid-friendly performances such as the Evanston School of Rock and the Radio Disney Show. Performances in the afternoon and evening hours will be geared toward more grown-up tastes, including Funkadesi, Chicago Catz and the Rockin’ Johnny Blues Band.

The Piccolo Theatre Medicine Show extravaganza, with twenty street performers features ever favorite MooNiE.

The Whole Foods Market Eco-Village is another festival favorite, with attractions like the Hummingbird Food Truck serving healthy food, all natural beverages and Goose Island beer.

And of course, the fair wouldn’t even exist without the business community it supports. Stop by the many wonderful independent small stores which call Main Street Station home during the event to receive special offers and gifts from merchants.

10:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. Saturday June 16th and Sunday 17th.

For planning tools, an interactive map and a list of attractions, visit Exhibitors can call 847-328-2204 for more information. For volunteer opportunities email