Northalsted Market Days, the annual week-long festival in Chicago’s historic LGBTQ neighborhood formerly known as Boystown, kicks off on Friday for its 39th year. It’ll share its opening weekend with the fourth Sundays on State, the city-run series of pedestrian-only dining, retail, and arts events on the famous downtown drag.
Chicago’s summer festival season (usually a boon for the city’s hospitality industry with tents full of food vendors operated by restaurants hoping to build the brands) has suffered stops and starts as case numbers rise and new data emerges about the COVID-19 delta variant.
Unlike other major summer events like Lollapalooza and Windy City Smokeout, Market Days organizers aren’t requiring all attendees to show proof of vaccination even though a number of bars and clubs in the area have implemented vaccinated-only policies. Unvaccinated Market Days patrons will still have to wear masks, but they can also get their shot on-site from a Northshore Clinical Labs center at Halsted and Aldine. Festival-goers can also find free rapid testing at the entry gates on Belmont and Addison.
Many restaurants are starting to require vaccinations for customers and more owners are contemplating a policy change.
Sundays on State, slated to start at 11 a.m. on Sunday between Lake and Madison, has tied its COVID-19 policies to “all public health guidelines,” according to its website. For the time being, city officials have are recommending facial coverings for those passing thorough indoor public places but stopped short of a mandate.
This weekend’s Sundays on State lineup includes food and beverage vendors including popular food truck the Fat Shallot, Chicago icon Harold’s Chicken, the historic Walnut room (with a “walking” version of its famous Mrs. Hering’s chicken pot pie), and more. A full list of vendors, as well as arts and culture performances, is available online.
Here’s more festival news from around the city:
- Tickets are now on sale for this year’s abbreviated Chicago Gourmet festival. Organizers won’t bring back the Grand Tasting until next year, but will hold the popular Hamburger Hop on Friday, September 24 on the Harris Theater’s rooftop just north of Millennium Park. Hosted by Stephanie Izard, three of the Hop’s 13 chefs are women.
- Pilsen’s Michelada Fest will run from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday at Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood Street, according to Block Club Chicago. Patrons can expect several types of micheladas, as well as live music from performers such as RKM & Ken-Y, J Alvarez, Guaynaa, Angel Y Khriz, and Grupo Vanguardia. Tickets and more details are available online.
- Beer and music festival Dancing in the Streets promises “hot jams and cold brews” from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday and noon to 10 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday on Hubbard Street between Paulina and Wood in West Town. Craft beer vendors will include favorites like Forbidden Root, Midwest Coast Brewing Company, Finch Beer Co., and more. A full lineup and more details are available online.
- Neighborhood food festival Taste of Andersonville will return from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Wednesday, August 11, according to a rep. Participants can choose between two different routes for traveling up and down Clark Street and try more than 20 dishes from local hits like Middle Eastern and Israeli restaurant Fiya, soul food spot Bettie Lou’s, and international street food restaurant Gadabout. Tickets and more details are available online. A portion of each ticket sale will be donated to Andersonville’s Swedish American Museum.
- Chicago Gourmet and Italian hit Piccolo Sogno will host a multi-course dinner in honor of recently retired Tribune dining critic Phil Vettel starting at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, September 1 at 464 N. Halsted Street, according to a rep. Special guests will include lauded local chefs including Mindy Segal (Mindy’s Bakery, Hot Chocolate), Martial Noguier (Bistronomic), Paul Kahan (One Off Hospitality), and Tony Priolo (Piccolo Sogno). Tickets and more details are available online.
- Organizers have also canceled Chicago’s Little Italy Festa because of concerns over the delta variant and the ongoing labor shortage in the hospitality industry, according to Block Club. The festival, usually held in August, was also canceled last summer due to the pandemic.
- Organizers at Hyde Park Summer Fest announced this week that they are canceling the September event as case numbers rise, according to a Facebook post. “With increasing COVID-19 cases and associated risks, we do not believe it is the right choice to move forward with the festival at this time,” the post reads. “This was an incredibly difficult decision, but we believe putting the community’s health and safety first is the most responsible decision.”