Friday, June 4, 2010

Let The (Festival) Games Begin!

Do Division Street Fest revelers at SmallBar. (Photo: REP3)

When it comes to the neighborhood street festival, no city beats Chicago. Each event offers its own distinct personality of the neighborhood's residents and businesses, particularly the restaurants and bars.

Take, for example, Do Division Street Fest, which goes down this weekend on 10 solid blocks in Wicker Park.

In addition to all-day concerts by local bands like Rego and Cory Chisel & the Wandering Son, the event includes the unique deejay party, Bass Bubbles and Beats. It's set inside the Wicker Wash Car Wash with a number of deejays from Evil Olive spinning.

It's also an opportunity for the restaurants and bars lining Division Street to get some well-deserved shine. Long-time establishment Alliance Bakery & Café cranks out amazing cookies and pastries alongside rowdy sports pubs like SmallBar on spacious outdoor patios.

Natasha Liberman, founder of A la Card Chicago. (Photo: A la Card Chicago)

Entrepreneurs like Natasha Liberman also manage to get some serious exposure for their businesses at neighborhood street festivals. The Skokie, Ill., native created A La Card Chicago in 2007 to highlight a number of chef-driven restaurants around town.

Her concept is simple. A La Card is actually a deck of 52 cards offering descriptions of restaurants (from Hot Doug's to Naha) and a $10 gift for each spot. They're $30 and $1 from each purchase benefits Common Threads.

Liberman, a passionate supporter of the local restaurant scene, plans to attend more than 20 neighborhood street festivals this summer to push those decks.

With soooooo many festivals going down this summer, how does one choose?! 312DD's picked some of the very best:

Andersonville Midsommarfest: In its 45th year, this festival takes place along Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa. More than 50,000 folks are expected to attend for live music by Funkadesi, Tripping Daisies, Chicago Samba and Roots Rock Society. Best area spots: Hamburger Mary's and In Fine Spirits. June 12-13.

Party at St. Mike’s: Better Than Ezra, Mike and Joe and Hairbangers Ball headline the massive block party a few blocks away from the Old Town Art Fair. Best area spots: Twin Anchors and Stanley's. June 11-13.

Taste of Randolph: West Loop's hottest restaurants get the spotlight, with live music from Lovehammers, Matthew Santos Band and Superchunk. Best area spots: Sushi Wabi and Red Light. June 18-19.

Green Music Fest: The West Town event features environmentally friendly vendors and cutting edge music from the likes of Disco Death Threat as well as New York's Proper Villains. Best area spots: Flo and West Town Tavern. June 26-27.

Street fest reveler chowing down.

West Fest: East Village/Ukrainian Village venues get their shine; The Empty Bottle's in charge of the musical acts, which are still TBA. Best area spots: Jam and Old Oak Tap. July 10-11.

Sheffield Garden Walk and Festival: Now in its 42nd year, the massive Lincoln Park event spotlights residents' beautiful gardens. Live music TBA. Best area spots: John's Place and Kith and Kin. July 17-18.

Taste of Lincoln Avenue: More than 20 bands are scheduled to perform at what is considered one of Chicago's biggest meat markets. Howard & the White Boys, Freddy Jones Band and 16 Candles perform. Best area spots: Gemini Bistro and Aperitif 21. July 24-25.

Wicker Park Fest: The deejays are the best part of this street party along Milwaukee Avenue. Matt Roan, Lou Dooben spin. Best area spots: Rodan and The Exchange. July 31-Aug. 1.

Northalsted Market Days: Joan Jett and the Blackhearts headlines the most colorful festival that's also the pride of Lakeview. Best area spots: Halsted's Bar & Grill and HB Home Bistro. August 7-8.

Retro on Roscoe: Classic cars, classic music and even classic cuisine at old-school style resto Kitsch'n on Roscoe; bands TBA. Best area spots: Terragusto and Volo Restaurant & Wine Bar. August 7-8.

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