Chicago’s Best of the Fests – July 2011

As mentioned in my June fest recap, Chicagoans pack in their fun in the sun while they can all summer long. While there are hundreds of neighborhood street festivals, here are my picks for the best fests of July 2011.

Chicago Folk & Roots Festival: July 9-10, 2011
Organized by the Old Town School of Folk Music, Chicago Folk & Roots festival features an eclectic lineup of folk, funk, global, and rootsy music from all over the world. Located in Lincoln Square’s Welles Park, the fest draws hippies, families, and music lovers of all kinds for a crowd of 30,000 over two days. This year I took in stage plummeting acrobatics by The Soul Sonic Sirkus, Congolese hip-hop/soul artist Baloji, and shimmied my way through my first salsa lesson to the energetic Caribbean beats of Cuban flutist Maraca.

Roscoe Village Burger Fest: July 9-10, 2011
Nine local vendors competed for the battle of the burger at the second annual Roscoe Village Burger Fest. Restaurants including Goose Island, Hamburger Mary’s, and last year’s winner John’s Place, served up full size burgers and sliders in variety of carnivorous flavors. Attendees texted in their votes with Stanley’s Kitchen & Tap taking top burger.
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West Fest: July 9-10, 2011
Whether grooving to the garage soul of King Khan, rocking out to Local H, or dancing the night away with Derrick Carter, West Fest’s allure lies in its musical lineup. Programmed by The Empty Bottle, the fest’s diverse live music draws a hip crowd and is a great reason for exploring west Chicago Ave.

[Photo Credit]

Pitchfork Music Festival: July 15-17, 2011
90-degree days spent outdoors, sweaty strangers, and up-and-coming indie rock are an incredible combination in my opinion. If you’re not sure why Pitchfork is my preferred Chicago music festival check out my 4 favorite things and enjoy my photos from this year’s fest.

Wicker Park Fest: July 23-24, 2011
Boasting names like Blitzen Trapper, Wild Flag, Wavves, and Flosstradamus, Wicker Park Fest is another summer street event that’s known for its musical lineup. Check out Chi-town indie darlings Company of Thieves performing “Modern Waste” from their latest album.

Sheffield Garden Walk: July 23-24, 2011
Strains of Verdi lilt through the late afternoon while sunlight filters through garden leaves, casting different patterns on the mossy stone paths below. Beyond the sidewalk, through a verdant archway, I feel worlds away from the street I’ve rambled down so many times, invited to share in Lincoln Park’s personal city retreats.

Now known as the “Garden District of Chicago,” this neighborhood was not always blooming. By the mid-1950’s, much of Lincoln Park had fallen into disrepair. The Sheffield Garden Walk was first organized in 1969 to draw attention to the beauty of the neighborhood. The lovely trees and street planter boxes you see lining the lanes of this neighborhood are due to the work of the Sheffield Neighborhood Association. While that first festival featured 16 local gardens, 78 local residents shared their gardens for this year’s Garden Walk.

A Garden Walk map guides you through the neighborhood, including a botanical background of each featured property. There’s a community feel to the festival and homeowners are happy to tell you about their gorgeous places and rare plants. The Sheffield Garden walk makes you feel like a neighbor no matter which ward you hail from…at least for the weekend.

Taste of Lincoln Ave: July 30-31, 2011
With a kid’s carnival, beer and food vendors, and the addition of the Lill Street Craft Fair, the Taste of Lincoln Ave. is a summer standard in Lincoln Park. The festival’s 28th edition featured five stages of live music, including blues legend Johnny Winter. Jam with Johnny to “Dust My Broom,” below.

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