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Carson Kukulski, 2, of Palos Heights, was happy to attend Lake Katherine's first-ever Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Carson Kukulski, 2, of Palos Heights, was happy to attend Lake Katherine's first-ever Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights. (Photos by Kelly White)

Lake Katherine pays homage to the mighty oak

By Kelly White

Lake Katherine Nature Center & Botanic Gardens celebrated the oak tree during the month of October with a cleverly named, Oak-tober Fest last weekend.

“We wanted to have an event that was more of a fall festival in addition to the Monarch Celebration that we hold in September,” Gareth Blakesley, Director and Chief Naturalist at Lake Katherine, said.

“Oaks are cool and are a keystone species that supports 500 other species. Since so many other plants and animals depend on the oak for survival, we wanted to highlight them for this fest.”

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Leah Jaimes, 6, and her brother, Noah, 3, play a game of bean bags on Saturday afternoon at Lake Katherine’s Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr,, Palos Heights.

This was the first time the fest was held at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights.

“Being able to share why oaks are so important to fest attendees is what I like most about Oak-tober Fest,” Blakesley said. “Oaks are the foundation to entire ecosystems by providing food, shelter and more to hundreds of other animals and plants and we wanted to share their importance with attendees.”

Guests at Oak-tober Fest were not only able to learn more about oaks and all they have to offer, they were also able to walk and explore the beautiful nature grounds at Lake Katherine, participate in acorn racing, scarecrow making, take a family hayride, discover educational posters and displays and so much more.

Free oak saplings were provided by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District and a photo booth was on-site for those still longing to capture the perfect fall family photo.

A beer garden also highlighted the event thanks to One Allegiance Brewing Co., located at 10215 S. Harlem Ave., Chicago Ridge, offering festive seasonal beers.

The majority of the activities taking place on the festival grounds and along the waterfall; however, the grounds of Lake Katherine remained open to the public for those not wishing to take place in the fest.

The fest was free to attend, along with parking, but some of the activities did include a small fee in order to participate.

The oak is a keystone species that supports entire ecosystems,” Stacy Schuble, Marketing Coordinator at Lake Katherine, said. “With this event, Lake Katherine aims to educate the public on a species that is the foundation to entire ecosystems by providing food, shelter and more to hundreds of other animals and plants. Lake Katherine encourages the community to protect the oaks we already have and plant new ones whenever possible.”

And, they did just that, according to fest goers.

“This was the perfect fall fest,” Stephanie Kukulski, of Palos Heights, said. “It’s a fun, free family event that’s close to home. We also love supporting Lake Katherine.”

“We haven’t made it out to a pumpkin patch this year yet, so this was great,” Roger Schweikert, of Palos Heights, said. “It’s beautiful weather and there is something for everyone in the family to enjoy.”

Lake Katherine officials said they received plenty of positive feedback from the fest, that had a very successful turnout, and are looking forward to hosting it again next year.

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Free oak saplings were provided by the Metropolitan Water Reclamation District during Lake Katherine’s Oak-tober Fest at the nature center, 7402 Lake Katherine Dr., Palos Heights.

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