Ceremony honoring Etel Billig and Kim Thayil set for Sept. 21

The Village of Park Forest will pay tribute to the late Etel Billig, founder of the Illinois Theatre Center where residents of the South Suburbs enjoyed quality productions under her leadership for more than three decades.

In addition, Park Forest will honor native Kim Thayil, guitar player extraordinaire, at the plaque dedication ceremony conducted at 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 21, on the Artists Walk, located immediately east of Village Hall at 350 Victory Drive.

The ceremony is part of the 64th Annual Park Forest Art Fair from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21 and 22, in downtown Park Forest.

Billing was an actress whose career spanned more than 60 years. She and her husband, Steven, organized the theater in the lower level of the Park Forest Library in 1976. She would select and direct equity actors in more than 120 productions.

When the Park Forest Plaza was reorganized, the Illinois Theatre Center moved into a former business space in what is now downtown Park Forest.

Thayil is best known as the lead guitarist of the Seattle-based rock band Soundgarden, which he co-founded with singer Chris Cornell and bassist Hiro Yamamoto in 1984.

Thayil was named the 100th greatest guitarist of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2010 and the 67th greatest guitarist of all time by SPIN magazine in 2012.

Today Park Forest has an Artists Walk in the downtown area with plaques already dedicated to Park Forest natives Art Hodes, who went on to become a jazz great, and Dawn Upshaw, an operatic singer and professor.

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