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As Christkindlmarket Goes Virtual, Food Vendors Get Left Behind

Plus, FoBAB will sell six packs as one of Chicago’s biggest beer festivals goes virtual

Two people holding small boot-shaped mugs cheers outside a Germanic-looking Christmas market stall.
The annual Christkindlmarket will be all virtual this year.
Christkindlmarket [Official Photo]

Organizers of Christkindlmarket — the annual holiday market in Wrigleyville and Daley Plaza — have canceled the event and replaced it with a virtual market . Over the years, vendors like DMen Tap and Chiya Chai have sold food to hungry patrons canvassing Daley Plaza. But large events remain verboten under Chicago’s current pandemic guidelines.

The online edition features Christkindmarket boxes for sale with items like seasonally-scented candles and tree ornaments. Food will play a lesser role in the market this year, as organizers don’t have the delivery infrastructure to produce and transport Christkindlmarket’s usual fare like bratwurst and raclette, according to a spokesperson. Still, hungry fans aren’t completely without options: the “Prost!” package ($50) includes a box of Kathi German Pretzel Baking Mix, a jar of German mustard, Black Kassel Salami Whips, and Nic Nac peanuts.

For food vendors, this leaves them without a valuable opportunity to introduce their brands to new customers. For example, Loop workers who commute from the suburbs may never have made it to Avondale to eat a doner kebob at DMen Tap. The holiday market provides exposure. DMen, which started as a food truck, is trying to hustle. They’ve parked their truck on Milwaukee Avenue on Sundays near the Logan Square Farmers Market in hopes of driving sales.

Revelers typically show up to the market in droves to shop to buy gifts, eat hot German pretzels, and drink warm, spiced Glühwein out of an annual keepsake mug that changes every year. 2020 won’t get (and frankly doesn’t deserve) its own mug, according to the Tribune, but collectors are in luck as organizers plan to sell back stock mugs from all the past markets.

The virtual market will also feature “Christkind Story Time” videos about German holiday traditions, songs, poems, and arts and crafts projects. Would-be customers may want to move quickly, as enthusiastic box buyers crashed the virtual market website Thursday. An expanded selection will go live November 1.

Update: This story now reflects the correct name for the virtual Christkindmarket.

And in other news...

— The Festival of Wood & Barrel-Aged Beer (FoBAB), one of Chicago’s biggest and most noteworthy beer events, has also “reimagined” its 2020 celebrations due to the coronavirus, according to a rep. More than 160 breweries from across the U.S. will submit over 300 rare wood and barrel-aged beers, ciders, meads, and perrys for judging and — for the first time ever — fans will be able to purchase randomized six packs ($60) featuring beer entries from all 12 style categories. General admission sales open October 23. Judging will take place November 12 to 13, with six pack pickup will be available November 13 - 14, at Hailstorm Brewing in suburban Tinley Park. All proceeds will go to the the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild, which is working to support the states breweries in the midst of the pandemic. More details are available on the festival’s website. Typically, the annual fest takes place at the UIC Forum.

— James Beard Award-winning chefs Beverly Kim and John Clark have reimagined Parachute, their Michelin-starred Korean restaurant in Avondale, as a new takeout-only operation inside sister restaurant Wherewithall in an effort to sustain the business through the rest of the pandemic. Lil’ Parachute — an invocation of the tireless Little Engine That Could — features a $45 prix fixe menu that includes a choice of main dish as well as jeon (pork, sesame leaf, sweet potato), tofu ssam (sweet and spicy mustard sauce), and banchan (soy-pickled sweet chilis, potato jjorim). There’s also a tight selection of classic cocktails, plus wine, soju, beer, and more. Menu items are meant to be reheated at home to mitigate problems with the dish in-transit. Kim and Clark have been forthright about the challenges they face as independent restauranteurs and parents of three during the pandemic, and write that Lil’ Parachute is the best solution they could devise to stay solvent moving forward.

— Two Chicago farmers markets are extending their seasons into the fall, Block Club Chicago reports: the famed Green City Market will run through November 21 at its West Loop and Lincoln Park locations, and the South Side’s Austin City Market will remain open through the end of October. The latter in particular has reportedly seen significant growth in 2020, which organizers attribute in large part to the efforts of Austin resident Liz Abunaw, the operator of Black-owned grocery startup Forty Acres Fresh Market, who corralled local vendors and helped secure grants for the market from the One Chicago Fund. Social distancing and masking rules will remain in place at both markets for the duration.

Green City Market

1790 N Clark St., Chicago, IL 60614 Visit Website

Parachute

3472 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (872) 204-7138 Visit Website

Daley Plaza

50 West Washington Street, , IL 60602 (312) 603-2526 Visit Website

Prost

2566 N Lincoln Ave, Chicago, IL 60614 (773) 880-9900 Visit Website

Wherewithall

3472 North Elston Avenue, , IL 60618 (773) 692-2192 Visit Website

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