Brazil Fest Chicago, introduced last year in conjunction with Logan Square’s The Boulevard festival, was so successful that it is debuting this year as its own celebration on August 23-25 at 3000 W. Logan Boulevard.
The fest was originally conceived with New York’s Brazil Fest in mind. Now, the Brazilian community in the Midwest—including the Consulate of Brazil in Chicago—has made their own version to share, allowing others to embrace their culture through music, dance, sports, fitness, food and dress—right in the heart of Logan Square.
“[The boulevard] is an awesome space and the most appealing event site in general because the park and street combine,” said John Barry, CEO of Star Events, the main organizer, which produces 20 annual events per year. “You can put your blanket down and enjoy a sangria or be on the pavement and look at art and the performers.”
Thousands of people are expected to be in attendance, half local and the other half from the neighboring states.
“The Brazilian line-up is intense,” Barry promises, with Afro-Brazilian folkloric dances, acrobatics from Capoeira groups, maculêlê and drumming performances and jiu-jitsu, as well as parades led by professional dancers in authentic Carnaval costumes.
Brazilian musicians throughout the region are taking the stage, including The Handphibians from Wisconsin and Rio Dio from Missouri. The music line-up includes samba, bossa nova, Brazilian jazz, pop, rock and soul bands, and DJs spinning Carioca funk and Brazilian beats.
“You can wear your soccer garb or your heels. Dress for as active as you want to be,” advised Barry.
Two Brazilian Chicago Fire players, midfielder Alex Monteiro De Lima and forward Maicon Santos, will participate in a meet-and-greet. Costume making, face painting, games and percussion instrument making are among the many family-friendly activities. For those who want to be more active, there will be yoga, zumba, soccer and samba instruction.
“The people missed the food last year, and I didn’t want anyone to be disappointed,” said Cristiane Pereira, owner and head chef of Taste of Brasil Cafe in Oak Park.
Pereira’s restaurant is the only authentic Brazilian food vendor participating in Brazil Fest. They will be serving large pastels in cheese or beef flavors along with Guaranas, a popular soda made from the seeds of guarana, a fruit found in the Amazon. Pastels have a bubbly, thick, inflated dough that makes for a truly unique flavor.
“I wanted to make something that would remind Brazilians of Brazil,” said Pereira, who lived in Brazil until she was 21. “In Brazil there are a lot of festivals. Every neighborhood has a farmer’s market twice a week and they always eat [pastels].”
Other local vendors like Giordano’s and the Wurst Haus will also be on hand for hungry festival-goers.
Attendees at Brazil Fest can easily pop into The Boulevard music festival, which will feature indie bands and craft beer. A $5 donation gives you admission to both experiences and supports Logan Square non-profits, including St. Luke’s Church, the Logan Square Neighborhood Association and the Alliance of Local Service Association. Both Brazil Fest and The Boulevard will be held at 3000 W. Logan Boulevard on Friday, August 23 from 5-10 pm; Saturday, August 24 from noon- 10 pm (with an after-party at the newly launched Concord Music Hall); and Sunday, August 25 from noon-10 pm. Get full details on activities at Brazil Fest.
“Can’t wait for the energy, music and dance. It feels like you are somewhere else,” said Pereira.