Barrington Paints the Town with Fall Outings

There are plenty of outdoor events to enjoy this fall, and for Barrington two of the biggest are happening on the same weekend.

The fifth annual “Paint the Town Barrington” Plein Air Event runs Oct. 1 through Oct. 9, with daily opportunities to watch as artists capture the town on canvas.

Plein air, French for “in the open air,” is a popular painting style, and events like this take place across the country every year, says Barrington resident Sue Whitney, who volunteers with the event and will be participating as an artist.

“People go out and they set up an easel – kind of like Claude Monet did – and the reason they do outside painting is, first, people like the outdoors,” says Whitney. “And second, you see more color with your real eye than with a camera or picture. In photographs, we like to say they lie to us – darks get darker, and you don’t see much in that portion. In real life, you’ll see more in that dark area than you would from the photograph.

With oil painting or watercolor painting, good artists capture an image in a more expressive way than aphotograph.”

Rollin Potter, cultural director of Barrington’s White House helps organize the event and notes it has come a long way since 2016, when just three local artists participated. This year, Potter hopes to have 25 or more participants.

“Barrington is a very picturesque, quaint community,” he says. “There are a lot of places plein art painters like to paint. Barrington is a destination for those artists. ”

For your best chance to watch the action, walk around town when the weather is nice, because that’s when the painters will be out, Whitney says.

Painters are allowed to go anywhere in the village, but popular spots are Main Street, Hough Street, Cook Street and Lake Street, the last of which features historic Victorian homes with well-manicured lawns and beautiful flowers.

Painters also love to capture the Catlow Theater, the gazebo in the center of town, the Metra station and Barrington’s White House, 145 W. Main St.

Most painters will be happy to have you watch as they work – just respect their space, Whitney says.

“Painting plein air is like being a magnet,” she says, laughing. “It’s like having a dog – everybody wants to come and pet the dog.”

The week culminates with the fifth annual Plein Air Artist’s Reception, on Oct. 9, from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Barrington’s White House.

Chicago artist Nancie King Mertz will judge the paintings, and the top three finalists will receive monetary rewards: $500 for first place, $300 for second place and $200 for third place.

Patrons can meet the artists and purchase their paintings after the judging. Tickets are free.

Coinciding with the Plein Air Artist’s Reception is the Barrington Fall Wine Walk, which runs Oct. 9 from 2 to 6 p.m.

“It’s a very popular event that tends to sell out,” says Clancy Potts, coordinator of communications and community engagement for the Village of Barrington, which hosts the event with the Barrington Area Chamber of Commerce.

Patrons are encouraged to stroll among participating shops and restaurants and enjoy a sampling of wines at each location. Typically, 15 to 25 establishments take part, Potts says.

Some merchants already have a liquor license, but others receive a special license for the event, like salons, orthodontist offices or interior design studios.

“There’s a map that denotes all of the stops, so you can take whatever route you like,” says Potts. “It’s a great way to bring people into the stores and show what each store or business has to offer in town. It’s a nice, lively day.”

Stop by Barrington the next weekend for even more fun. The village’s Metra Lot Concert series continues Oct. 15 at the Barrington Metra North Commuter parking lot, 201 S. Spring St.

The concert series began in October 2020, and its ninth event features the Lakeshore Encores, led by Angela Martin of “American Idol” fame. Six lead singers take the stage.

“We park the cars every other spot, so the space in between cars is where people set up their little area,” says Potts. “People bring tables, chairs, food, drinks.”

Finally, the 20th annual Scarecrow Festival takes place Oct. 16, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., at Barrington Memorial Park, 311 S. Hough St.

Heinen’s of Barrington will donate small pumpkins to decorate and take home, and there will be plenty of family-friendly activities like pony rides, scarecrow building, face painting, and music by Bob Roig, better known as Bob the DJ.

“It’s free family fun – a kick-off event for fall,” says Potts. ❚

For information on upcoming events in Barrington, visit or