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Nine Chicago Street Fests That Are Actually Worth Your Time

There are more than 400 mini-fests in Chicago this year. You should not go to all of them.

Having a ball at Green Music Fest.   Photo: Courtesy of Green Music Fest

Per the city’s website, there are more than 400 streets fests in Chicago this summer. Per us, that is far too many street fests. They will all have food. They will all have entertainment. They will all cost about $5. None of them will reinvent the corn dog.

Still, a handful of local mini-fests come with ace talent buyers, and the bands you’ll see/food you’ll eat will be well worth enduring the throngs for. Pick your poison below. May the fest be with you.

Do-Division

WHEN: May 29–31
WHERE: Wicker Park (Division between Damen and Leavitt)
HOW MUCH: $5 donation
WHY BOTHER: The lineup is so good it’s stupid. Highlights include Black Mountain, Pity Sex, Saba, Murder by Death, and Meat Wave. See the whole beautiful thing here.

Remix Chicago

When: June 6–7
Where: Logan Square (Milwaukee between Fullerton and California)
How Much: $5 donation
Why Bother: Reduce your carbon footprint! The rebranded/relocated Ravenswood Remix focuses on art made from found objects, and benefits arts programming in local schools. The lineup is also excellent (highlights include Pittsburgh punks the Menzingers and New York singer-songwriter Laura Stevenson ). Go.

Andersonville Midsommarfest

When: June 12–14
Where: Andersonville (Clark St. between Foster and Catalpa)
How Much: $10 donation
Why Bother: It’s 10 miles from downtown tourism and 3–5 from  various havens of North Side slopiness. Plus, this year is its 50th anniversary. Meet the most manageable street fest all summer.

Taste of Randolph

When: June 19-21.
Where: West Loop (900 W. Randolph).
How Much: $10 donation
Why Bother: Its size may border on mega-fest, but Dinosaur Jr. is headlining this year. Best Coast, the Dandy Warhols, Tennis, and Lettuce also play.

Green Music Fest

WHEN: June 20-21.
WHERE: Wicker Park (Damen between North and Schiller).
HOW MUCH: $5 donation.
WHY BOTHER: See folksy tunes on a pedal-powered stage. Headliners include Mikal Cronin, Lydia Loveless, Shovels & Rope, and Futurebirds. Deets.

Chinatown Summer Fair

WHEN: July 19
WHERE: Chinatown (Wentworth between Cermak and 24th Pl.)
HOW MUCH: Free!
WHY BOTHER: It’s the closest you’ll get to a full-fledged street fair each summer. Entertainment routinely includes the Lion Dance Procession, martial arts exhibitions, traditional music/dance, a petting zoo, and various wonky competitions (cutest baby contest, best legs for men).

Wicker Park Fest

WHEN: July 25-26
WHERE: Wicker Park (North and Milwaukee)
HOW MUCH: $5 donation
WHY BOTHER: The music is always good, but this year features a wider range of bands than ever, including James Brown impersonator Charles Bradley, melodic metalheads Deafheaven, and ’90s throwbacks Veruca Salt and Blonde Redhead. More to come here.

Fiesta del Sol

WHEN: July 30-August 2
WHERE: Pilsen (1400 W. Cermak)
HOW MUCH: Free!
WHY BOTHER: The food. This year’s self-proclaimed largest Latino festival in the Midwest boasts more than two dozen vendors, most of them slinging traditional Mexican fare.

Northalsted Market Days

When: August 8-9
Where: Boystown (N. Halsted between Belmont and Addison)
How Much: $10 donation
Why Bother: Get your pride on without having to deal with Pride Parade. Deets.

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