Festivals in Back of the Yards

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It's no secret that street food requires lots of creativity: not only are people working in smaller spaces without the furnishings of a full kitchen, but they're hoping their food will stand out amid Chicago's many food trucks and street vendors. StreetFood Artistry celebrates their creativity, inviting hundreds of mobile food artisans to show off their culinary treasures in one convenient space. In that same spirit, the culturally conscious affair also gives visibility to local artists—whose work will be on display—and musicians, including DJ Alvin Black III, who will perform throughout the day. General admission include non-alcoholic beverages and access to the entertainment.

But StreetFood Artistry is more than just one annual event. The not-for-profit corporation was founded by Patrice N. Perkins, an attorney who works with creative-minded entrepreneurs. This year, she's introducing Stand Out Creative, an initiative that will help support one of SFA's participants: one participant will win a financial award to help grow their brand and will be set up with 50 hours of pro bono legal services. The winners will be chosen in part by fan-favorite votes at the event.

1029 West 35th Street
Chicago,
IL
US

Now in its fifth year, the Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival has become a celebration of art both homegrown and on loan from the rest of country. As you stroll around the fest, handcrafted items from more than 80 area artists vie for attention, with many up for accolades later in a juried art competition. The festivities run from noon to 10 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday, and each day the main stage features a diverse lineup of live music from Chicago and throughout the country. The schedule includes The Giving Tree, an Americana rock band that has opened for The Avett Brothers, and former Barenaked Ladies frontman Steven Page.

2221 West 43rd Street
Chicago,
IL
US

It might be called the Windy City RibFest, but the bosses of sauce who tend to the festival's barbecue come from all over the world. For five years running, these award-winning ribbers have been filling fest-goers with sauce-slathered ribs, frothy brews, and traditional sides, such as baked beans, coleslaw, and another helping of ribs. Tucked between the Aragon Ballroom, the Riviera, and the Green Mill, this year's RibFest welcomes local luminaries such as grillmaster Tom Ferguson, whose Chicago BBQ Company is a perennial favorite at the fest. Out-of-towners are also well-represented. Joey Sutphen of Texas Thunder BBQ whips up batches of his family's nationally known ribs, and Paul MacKay from Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ shares the piquant flavors of his native Sydney. As chefs from Porky Chick's and Famous Daves sizzle up their trademark slabs, local bands such as the funked out vocalists of Su?nalo, the Top 40 cover band Hello Weekend, and Dave Matthews?mimickers Trippin' Billies keep crowds sufficiently entertained.

Groupon Guide to Chicago

Groupon Guide rounded up some of the best barbecue joints in the country. See who made the cut.

2221 West 43rd Street
Chicago,
IL
US

Push the boundaries. That's pretty much the only rule for performances at the Chicago Fringe Festival, an unconventional expo of new theatrical works from around the world. Now in its fourth year, the Windy City's festival joins in a dramatic tradition shared by cities including Indianapolis, New York, and the original outpost, Edinburgh. The week-long event provides a prominent stage for up-and-coming productions, helping little-known companies catch some buzz and established groups test out new ideas. A lottery system determines the year's lineup, a process that keeps each festival exhilaratingly unpredictable while delighting statisticians.

2003 South Halsted Street
Chicago,
IL
US

Founded by Liberia-born business leader P. Saingbey K. Woodtor nearly a quarter-century ago, the African Festival of the Arts celebrates the arts and culture of African diaspora in Chicago. Past years have seen performances by such legendary acts as George Clinton, Erykah Badu, India.Arie, and James Brown, and every year features a world's worth of food. Nigerian egusi, Senegalese wolof rice, Caribbean jerk chicken, and even Cajun and soul food from the US all have their spots at the food pavilion.

But the real stars of the annual show are the fine arts and the artists who make them, be they painters, sculptors, jewelers, or wood carvers. In all these ways, the festival gives Chicagoans a glimpse of Africa without the need for plane tickets or risking the climb inside the time machine your cousin "invented."

6200 S Drexel Ave
Chicago,
IL
US

Founded in 2011, the Chicago-based American Chamber Opera features an ensemble committed to singing full-length oratorios in English. Its productions resemble concerts more than traditional opera performances: the music takes center stage as the singers belt and emote in settings that evoke the world of the story with just a few well-placed details.

1111 E 61st St
Chicago,
IL
US

Groupon Guide