Milwaukee Avenue Arts Festival (@MilAveArtsFest, MAAF) has been around since 2009, but this year they’re pulling in the reigns to better showcase the art, music, food and diversity of Logan Square. The festival is presented by I AM Logan Square and Land and Sea Dept and will run June 28-30.
Less Sprawl, More Logan Square
In years past, MAAF was a dichotomous festival with tents and stages set up in front of Centennial Monument, as well as a few blocks down at Milwaukee and Belden.
This year the festival unites in one location, blocking off Milwaukee Avenue from the bus turnaround near the Logan Square Blue Line stop all the way to Diversey. Stages will be set up on both the north and south ends along with food and beer tents. Merchant, artist and not-for-profit booths will line the street in between.
When festival staff proposed the street closure, Logan Square residents raised concerns about maintaining relevance within the neighborhood. “We really wanted to keep that in mind during the planning phase,” says I AM Logan Square Community Relations Coordinator Alison Trebe. “We’re thinking big but local this year, really looking to neighborhood sponsors, vendors, artists and volunteers to make this festival what it is.”
Make sure to stop by the LoganSquarist booth as you make your way around the festival.
MAAF is working with Gwen Zabicki of the South Logan Arts Coalition to fill booths and empty storefronts with local artists. The festival is also working with the Puerto Rican Arts Alliance to ensure that Logan Square’s large Puerto Rican population is represented through art, dance and music.
“At its core, this festival is about local art,” says Trebe. “Anyone who wants to show their stuff should have that opportunity.” Booth space for artists is available for $100, plus the cost of tent rental. Email [email protected] if interested.
When I stopped by to chat with I AM Logan Square staffers Alison Trebe and Justine Rowland, they had just confirmed headliner William Cepeda—a big win for the festival. The Grammy-nominated Afro-Rican jazz artist will close out the festival on Sunday evening, accompanied by dancers and stilt walkers. “William Cepeda will be the perfect music to close out the festival,” Trebe says. “This will really bring it all back home—this is what Logan Square is all about.”
New to the festival this year is the Cocktail Lot—a VIP tent in the former Pierre’s parking lot that will feature cocktails from Parson’s Chicken & Fish, The Owl, Reno and one as-of-yet undetermined bar. Guests must RSVP beforehand with Do312 in order to gain entrance to the Cocktail Lot.
Thanks to a serendipitous bar run-in, Jeppson’s Malört also will be making a guest appearance at the festival. Rowland and Trebe secured a hefty liquid donation when they ran into the liquor brand’s owner and creative director at the Scofflaw one-year anniversary party. “You either love or hate Malört, but every Chicagoan thinks it’s funny to buy a round for their friends,” says Trebe. “We’re also crossing our fingers on a special appearance from Ma’Lort, as they call her,” she says, referring to Jeppson’s owner Patricia Gabelick. Chicago’s favorite liquor will be available in shot form from I AM Logan Square’s booth within the Cocktail Lot, so be sure to stop by and you know, buy a round for your friends.
For the littlest Logan Square residents, MAAF will offer a Family Activities Tent with button pressing courtesy of Busy Beaver, activities from Green Bean Day School and something special from Play Logan Square.
Once the street reopens at 10 pm, the Logan Theatre will keep festivalgoers around with a few classics, including Some Like It Hot, Pulp Fiction, The Big Lebowski and Clockwork Orange. Next door, D’Noche will offer its own after-hours entertainment.
The festival is actively seeking volunteers. To donate your time at the festival gates, info booth or as a runner, email [email protected] Shifts will run an average of three to four hours.