This year, the heart of Logan Square will once again ring with live music on the first official weekend of summer. The Logan Square Arts Festival makes its comeback starting Friday, June 24, after a two-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival runs all weekend, 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Friday and 12 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Centered on the Illinois Centennial Monument, the festival will feature two stages of live music, along with visual artists and interactive art projects, local vendors, and food and drink from local businesses.
Performers include nationally known headliners, like Philadelphia experimental rock group Man Man, and local acts, like Chicago punk favorites Meat Wave. The extensive music lineup also boasts local artists Semiratruth, Oux and CRASHprez and out-of-state acts like Nordista Freeze and Squirrel Flower.
Showcasing Local Artists
Started back in 2009 as a series of pop-up art galleries, the Logan Square Arts Festival has evolved into a three-day music festival. The event sets itself apart from Chicago’s many summer neighborhood festivals with interactive and community-driven art projects. Geary Yonker, president of the I AM Logan Square neighborhood group that organizes the event, said the festival showcases the creative community that calls Logan Square home.
“We try to make it as representative of the neighborhood as possible,” Yonker said. “It’s our celebration of the neighborhood and the first weekend of summer. This year is going to be especially poignant because it’ll be our first year back after taking two years off.”
Organizers canceled the event in 2020, shortly after pandemic shutdowns began in the United States. In 2021, they replaced the festival with a series of smaller music-only pop-ups at Mozart Park (2036 N. Avers Ave.) and Kosciuszko Park (2732 N. Avers Ave.).
As in past years, a variety of artists and artisans will sell their wares on event grounds. As part of the Logan Square Arts Festival’s unique focus on Chicago’s independent art community, the event offers creatives discounted rates. Organizers aim to attractive a more “eclectic and diverse” vending clientele than other neighborhood festivals, Yonker said.
“Something That Really Means Something To You”
The festival also endeavors to bring in vendors who sell their own, original products, Yonker added. “The metric we use to judge it on [is], ‘Are you making it yourself?’” Yonker said. “Are you making this clothing yourself? Are you making this jewelry yourself? You’re not just turning around and selling somebody else’s work, but this is something that really means something to you.”
Logan Square Arts Festival’s focus on art and artists hearkens back to the event’s beginnings as a string of pop-up galleries in unused Milwaukee Avenue storefronts. That focus also includes curation of the festival’s own content. The Interactive Arts Tent will feature poetry, painting and theater workshops, all of which are participatory and for people of all ages.
Yonker said the festival will produce work from independent artists, which will include sculptures, interactive multimedia pieces, live mural painting and even tree decorating. Recent neighborhood arrival The Insect Asylum (2870 N. Milwaukee Ave.) hosts watercolor butterflies and a worm dig for families on Saturday, while a community mural project happens Sunday, among other events.
Food Trucks And Revolution Brews
New to this year’s festival, food truck vendors will keep attendees fed. Yonker said staffing shortages in the restaurant industry made festival staff rethink how they do food vending.
“It’s very difficult for restaurants to staff their existing location, and then you’re asking them to basically open up a third location for a weekend and staff it,” Yonker said.
Revolution Brewing, of Logan’s beloved Revolution Brewpub (2323 N. Milwaukee Ave.), will once again serve as the festival’s main drink sponsor.
Kickoff To Summer
While the festival is a free event, Yonker said there will be a $5 suggested donation; festivalgoers will simply be asked to give what they can. Twenty percent of festival donations will go to Logan Square Preservation, a nonprofit dedicated to educating the public about the history of the neighborhood and helping with upkeep of the square.
Yonker said he thinks of the festival as a kickoff to summer.
“Bring neighbors together, bring the community together, celebrate the neighborhood, celebrate what makes the neighborhood special,” Yonker said. “Just spend some time together, have a few drinks, benefit the artists that are presenting their work as best we can [and] try to represent the neighborhood as best we can.”
The Logan Square Arts Festival will take place from Friday, June 24, through Sunday, June 26.
Featured photo: Ali Karbassi