West Fest Chicago
Despite it straddling one of the hottest weekends in Chicago memory, West Fest Chicago was a huge hit with neighbors and music fans.
Truly a great mix of jammin’ sounds and fun for the family, West Fest combines music and activities. There is something for everyone at the fest: A true Chicago street fair that reflects the eclectic persona of its West Town environs. Held annually on Chicago Avenue at Damen, the two-day party features live cutting edge music on three stages. The main stage is booked by Empty Bottle Presents, then there is a DJ Stage, and a Kid Fest Stage.
There are Kid Fest activities and entertainment, PUPFest with pet product vendors and dog activities for charity, plus a multitude of booths from popular neighborhood restaurants, retailers and artists. What makes this fest unique is that it’s locally planned and managed by the West Town Chamber of Commerce, thus the emphasis is all-things "local," from the food to the talent.
The biggest difference between West Fest and other Chicago street festivals is the high quality live music. West Fest is all about up and coming local and national artists playing original live music. West Fest also features a DJ stage, one of the first at a Chicago street fest since its inception in 2004. The main stage is booked by the renowned local venue Empty Bottle Presents.
The DJ stage featured Derrick Carter to end the evening and Saturday and the crowd was responding with enthusiasm. It was a two block long rave as Carter was spinning and the beats echoed in the sternum for blocks in every direction. On the Empty Bottle stage, the Black Lips whined and crooned and rocked to a packed crowd of alt music fans.
Dogs were everywhere. And of every shape, size, age, variety and level of adorableness you can think of. Wet, dirty, clean dogs. Each year West Fest features another large ’fest within a fest’ dedicated exclusively to pet product vendors, canine bathing pools, and plenty of pet activities for charity hosted by West Town’s own Doggy Style Pet Shop and Green Dog Inc.
With a $5 donation, dogs who attended participated in a variety of activities at no additional charge, including an agility course, an additional obstacle course fun area (with mud pit!), dog "tattooing," face painting and paw painting, paw cooling stations, raffles and spin-the-wheel prizes. With a $15 donation, dogs participated in the above activities plus the Suds For Strays Charity Dog Wash. After getting all messy in the mud pit (but prior to getting tattooed), volunteers from the five rescues washed dogs all day. Each dog that got washed also received a gift bag containing freebies and coupons.
Kid Fest, another fest within the fest, was held from noon to 10 p.m. on Wolcott Ave between Chicago Ave and Rice. This year, it was a jam packed two-day family fun event. Kid Fest featured the usual pony rides and face painting for the little ones, plus it focused on arts and music programming for those hard to please tweens and teens.
Older kids and all ages enjoyed the programming by The Opus Institute with live music, arts lessons, B-Boy Battle and music workshops presented by The Opus Institute, Maestro Chroma, Ground Lift Media and Chicago Tribe. Live art demonstrations by Czr Prz, Des One, Daze, Celr, Fel 3000, Sintex, Rift, Cero, Revise, CMW and many more.
Overall, it was great example of what Chicago fests can be: a true celebration of the neighborhood and a family destination for an afternoon or evening in the city.
West Fest Chicago ran July 7 and 8. For more info on West Fest, visit www.westfestchicago.com/