Dreadlocks of varying lengths, frosty-haired gentlemen with silver and gold chains and juicy curls in every color from marigold to jet black, danced through the crowds at the second annual Englewood Music Festival Saturday. The festival at 63rd and South Parkway was hosted by the office of 16th District Alderman Stephanie Coleman and welcomed Chicagoland natives to a safe, family-friendly celebration of intergenerational connection and community engagement.
The festival attracted around 3,000 visitors. Music performers included neo-soul duo Kindred the Family Soul and rappers Katie Got Bandz and Juvenile. Not only were there more people than at last year’s event, but there were more vendors and enough space to make all generations feel welcome.
“It will be a safe day, so the impact will be on family, unity and of course arts, music and culture,” Coleman said. “Today’s intergenerational events bring families and generations together. Today is resilience.
Visitors of all ages have found shade from the sun under the trees in the middle of South Halsted. Older customers stretched out under a bright pink tent in the 16th arrondissement. The wind picked up around 2 p.m. and blew a cool breeze over the festival.
On the sidewalk near Kennedy-King College, families sat on concrete ledges and lined up lawn chairs. People sipped drinks and ate chicken dinners at Harold’s Chicken food truck.
“I love how intimate it is because it’s similar to other festivals that take place in Grant Park and other areas of Chicago,” West Englewood resident Olivia Weathers said. “Festivals like this make the community proud and I’ve never heard of scum. Last year when I went there was no violence and there were no incidents today.
Chicago’s Haire’s Gulf Shrimp sold flaky fried shrimp and gave away free water to children. We Shave What You Crave provided mounds of ice in polystyrene cups, allowing customers to mix their syrup.
Frying oil lined up with visitors to the Taquizas A Domicilio food truck as tiger’s blood, green apple and blue raspberry syrups stained the street facing the soundstage.
The Black McDonald’s Operators Association tent was near Coleman’s tent. About $2,500 worth of prepackaged crayons, pencils, pens and notebooks were stacked on the tent’s display table, ready to be taken away. A BMOA spokesperson said the student care packages are intended to meet the needs of school-aged children who may not have academic resources.
In the Kennedy-King College parking lot, there was a children’s section. Far in the lot, the Englewood Arts Collective (EAC) had its own DJ playing kid-friendly music and an MC selling raffle tickets for tote bags. Inside the tote bags were coloring books, two EAC t-shirts and coupons for the Chick-Fil-A South Loop.
Children and parents wore flowing yellow aprons and made a community mural with acrylic paints. There was also a children’s carnival with bungee jumps and an inflatable bouncing tent with obstacles. Health resources such as Cook County Health, Illinois Department of Children and Family Services, and Howard Brown Health had stations nearby.
At the main entrance, Grow Greater Englewood handed out bags of free produce and served fresh food to customers who might have wanted fruit instead of festival food.
“We have herbs and vegetables from our Sisters In the Village group, which is a farm run by a black woman on the South Side of Chicago, and grocery bags from our lovely partners at Urban Growers Collective,” said George Mikell, the Grow Greater Manager of the Englewood Farmers Market. “To be here is to be connected with the community.”
Musical classics like “Before I Let Go” by Frankie Beverly and Maze, and “Candy” by Cameo played before Kindred the Family Soul arrived in the late afternoon. The Green Line train to Harlem was the backdrop to the center stage when the performers began performing.
When the streetlights came on, the music of Katie Got Bandz shook the asphalt near the stage and the visitors danced in sync. Juvenile was the latest guest artist whose songs echoed through the Englewood Square shopping center until sunset.
“Community events are the best place to host good quality entertainment and bring people together like vendors, voters, dignitaries and everyone else,” said Fatin Dantzler of Kindred the Family Soul. “Everything feeds off of each other. So that’s always a good thing.
Josh Burrell is a freelance writer.