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Labor Day Fair bridges a gap

BY SIQI WANG | AUGUST 29, 2013 5:00 AM

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Artists, crafters, and musicians will come together this weekend for a Labor Day celebration.

The annual Uptown Bill’s Ralston Creek Fair & Flea Market will begin at 8 a.m. on Monday at Uptown Bill’s Coffee House, 730 S. Dubuque St. Admission is free.

Uptown Bill’s is the cross-town cousin of Wild Bill’s Coffee Shop in North Hall, which provides employment and acts as a community forum for people with disabilities.

Tom Gilsenan, the director of Uptown Bill’s, said Uptown Bill’s and Wild Bill’s are continuing experiments in the “social” part of social work.

“From the beginning, the coffee shops’ goal has been to bring people together across boundaries that divide us. The particular mission of the Bill’s has been to offer a place for crossing a boundary called ‘ability.’ ”

But Gilsenan said there are other boundaries, too, which the coffee shops try to cross, including those between student and teacher and between campus and community.

“It is an ongoing project, something that continues to unfold,” he said.

Uptown Bill’s will continue to cross the boundary between campus and community with its Labor Day Fair.

The event will not only showcase arts and music, it will also be a celebration of the coffeehouse’s 12th birthday.

Tara McGovern, a musician playing with Jeffrey C. Capps, will be one of the performers at the fair.

“I typically play and sing traditional and original Irish music with my band, the Beggarmen, but Jeff and I play originals, some classic Americana and roots music,” she said. “I will also provide a healthy helping of Irish fiddle tunes.”

McGovern belives that Uptown Bills’ is a great place for people to come together and share their music with each other.

As an undergraduate at the UI, McGovern felt like she was always surrounded by such a narrow range of individuals who were around the same age and from similar backgrounds.

“I felt like I was really lacking in interaction with children, older adults, and people of all kinds of interests and abilities,” she said. “Bill’s is a slice a life that is more in keeping with our human experience. I would love to see more university students attending events at Bill’s.”

Jeffrey Morgan, who plays Pennies on the Rail, will play a variety of original, traditional, and cover songs mixing, folk, pop-rock, and gospel at the fair.

“Uptown Bill’s has a special format of a band every hour, a different pie every hour, and a venue where people actually listen to the music,” he said. “That’s very special in itself.”


Uptown Bill's Ralston Creek Fair & Flea Market
When: 8 a.m. Monday
Where: Uptown Bill’s Coffeehouse, 730 S. Dubuque
Admission: Free

Music Schedule
11 a.m. — Pennies on the Rail
Noon — Piano music with Julie & Doug Rideout
1 p.m. — Rick Vornbrock
1:30 p.m. — Jeffrey C. Capps with Tara McGovern
2 p.m. — Bob the Bluesman
3 p.m. — Tom Nothngale
4 p.m. — Andy Juhl
5 p.m. — Beat Prairie
6 p.m. — Ruthless Ruth


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