Freedom Hall and Main Street Nights Set to Return

Freedom Hall and Main Street Nights Set to Return. (Photo: John Hudzik)
Freedom Hall and Main Street Nights Set to Return. (Photo: John Hudzik)

Park Forest, IL-(ENEWSPF)- The long intermission is near an end. After a year of canceled events, closed museums, and remote learning, people are anxious to break out of their pandemic confinement and get back to life as normal – or at least as normal as safety precautions permit.  But what can we expect as the weather warms up?

In Park Forest, major sources of entertainment have always been the performances held at Freedom Hall and outdoors at Main Street Nights.  To get a sense of what can we expect in 2021, eNews Park Forest sat down with the one and only Chuck Sabey, the Cultural Arts Supervisor at Freedom Hall, to get his perspective.

While maintaining a safe environment for both performers and audience members is paramount, Sabey is optimistic that Park Forest’s entertainment venues will reopen even while complying with state and local health guidelines.

Sabey is currently in the process of lining up performers for the weekly Main Street Nights events that run from June through July, as well as for the Freedom Hall performances that begin in the Fall.  The Freedom Hall performances will include the monthly Main Series as well as the popular Matinee Series.

The inability to perform in front of live audiences for the past year has left the entertainers anxious to return to the stage, according to Sabey.  The performers are also cautious, asking questions regarding the use of masks, social distancing, ventilation, and even the possible use of potential “vaccine passports”.

Sabey is offering performers who were canceled from last year’s Main Street Nights the first opportunity to come back this year and he is finding most groups very anxious to return.

He expects to have the initial line-up of events available within the next few weeks so that residents can make their summer plans.  eNews Park Forest will publish the event schedule as soon as it is available.  An unknown at this point is what the capacity limits will be for both the outdoor and indoor events.

Over the past year, many people have found comfort in watching virtual performances at home and Sabey believes that there is a place for virtual viewing even when live performances resume.  Sabey is exploring the feasibility of offering a virtual showing of some the live Freedom Hall events.  The recent virtual concert held at Freedom Hall, “Better Together – Songs of Hope and Healing,” was well received and demonstrated the potential of hosting future virtual events.

Sabey and his Freedom Hall staff worked hard last year to schedule events that would comply with state health guidelines.  Main Street Nights was replaced with My Street Nights which used a pick-up truck pulling a trailer to different sites around town where a group of performers would play a half hour concert.  In addition, there was a socially distanced outdoor Movie Night and two pop-up concerts held with the Illinois Philharmonic Orchestra.  Similar events may be offered in 2021 based on interest and safety restrictions in place at the time.