June a smorgasbord of Chicago street fests

This weekend’s newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

June a smorgasbord of Chicago street fests


June 2, 2012

Summertime is about sunshine. It’s about vacations and beaches and picnics. And, in my world, it’s about baseball.

Or, at least it would be if the Cubs were any good.

But in Chicago, summertime is also about food. And lots of it. That’s especially true this month, as June’s lineup of city street fests includes a heaping helping of, well, just about everything.

The following is a sampling of this month’s food-focused celebrations in Chicago, which are sure to whet your appetite.
And, if you don’t watch it, expand your waistband too.

June 2-3: Sausagefest

Back in 1986, “Ferris Buller’s Day Off” made Abe Froman, the fictional “Sausage King of Chicago,” a legendary name. Come this afternoon, Chicago will crown a real-life “Sausage King,” who will probably become, well, a bit less legendary.
But will still be royally fed.

At 1:30 p.m., Sausagefest – the city’s second annual celebration of encased meats located at Addison and Sheffield next to Wrigley Field – will crown as king its top fundraiser for the Prostate Cancer Foundation. The king (or, I assume, queen) will then get to dine on free beverages and sausages throughout the weekend.

SausageFest, which includes vendors such as Bobak’s Sausage Co. and Paulina Meat Market and asks for a $5 donation, runs from noon to 10 p.m. today and Sunday. For more information, visit

June 8-10: Ribfest

Located at Lincoln Avenue and Irving Park Road in the North Center neighborhood, this summertime fixture will again feature about 50,000 pounds of ribs and barbecue served up by more than 30 restaurants.

On Friday night, Ribfest also will play host to a dozen professional eaters who will compete in the festival’s third annual rib-eating contest, RibMania.

Ribfest, which asks for a $5 donation, also offers a family area (open noon-7 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday) with live entertainment for kids, as well as inflatables and games. For more information, visit

June 15-17: Taste of Randolph

For the past 16 years, the six blocks of Randolph Street – from Peoria to Racine – has been home to Chicago’s highly popular Taste of Randolph festival.

The three-day event featuring vendors from many of the West Loop’s highly rated restaurants also includes merchants selling jewelry, clothing, art and other goods, live cooking demos and a lineup of live musical acts.

Admission to the Taste of Randolph is $10. For more information, visit

June 16-17: Pizza Fest

It’s spent the past three summers off Chicago’s lineup of street festivals, but this year the celebration dedicated to the Windy City’s iconic dish is back.

Now located at the corner of Broadway and Wilson avenues in Uptown, Pizza Fest will be serving up thin, thick and gourmet pizzas by the slice (or the whole pie) from an array of vendors.

The festival, which asks for a $5 admission fee, also offers a lineup of live music and will ask visitors to vote for their favorite pizza. For more information, visit

June 29-July 1: Craft Beer Fest

With all this eating going on during June, what better way to cap off the month than by washing it all down with a few Midwestern microbrews?

Chicago’s inaugural Craft Beer Fest will be held on the grounds of the historic parish St. Michael in Old Town (1633 N. Cleveland Ave.). The event requires a $5 general admission fee, which does not include beer tastings.

Visitors can purchase a $75 ticket that includes samples of more than 50 craft beers during scheduled tastings throughout the weekend (one Friday, two on Saturday and Sunday) or can purchase tastings individually. For more information, visit