UPTOWN — The Waldo Forever Fest — an event that celebrates cannabis — is back for a second year this weekend, bringing pot culture and bounce queen Big Freedia to Uptown.
You can’t actually smoke weed at the party, organizers note. Not legally, at least. But if you have a medical card, you can buy at the nearby dispensary.
Saturday’s festival — taking place on the now popularized cannabis holiday of 4/20 — is free and will include live music, comedy sets, drag performances, munchies and more.
It will be held just outside Dispensary33 at 5001 N. Clark St. — Chicago’s first dispensary. Hours are 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
The all-day festival is free when you RSVP. Attendees can come and go as they please throughout the day.
With cannabis culture coming out of the shadows, events that celebrate weed are able to function smoothly without sparking much debate.
“The fact of the matter is that the people are way ahead of the government when it comes to cannabis,” said Richard Park of the Chicago Patient Alliance (formerly the Chicago Cannabis Alliance).
The festival is being produced by Do312, a local events promoter.
Scott Cramer, general manager at Do312, said they are expecting about 3,000 people — almost twice as many as last year.
Part of that has to do with 4/20 falling on a Saturday, he said. But Cramer also thinks a shrinking stigma is part of the reason attendance will climb.
“The stigma of cannabis is coming down, so lots more people are wanting to come out,” he said.
The festival aims to have something for everyone, with glass blowers, giveaways and cultivators sharing brand new strains inside the dispensary for people with cards. Don’t bring your kids though — the event is only for those 18 and older.
The festival is being headlined by Big Freedia, known as the “Queen of Bounce Music.” There will also be live performances from:
· Tatiana Hazel
· Air Credits
· White Mystery
With pro-cannabis legislation on the horizon, Cramer said the festival is sure to grow each year. He said that right now Waldo Forever Fest is “the best game in town.”
There are 16 cannabis vendors participating in the event. Grassroots Cannabis will be bringing strains and providing a video arcade with 8-12 stand up full-size game machines. Ataraxia will be sharing a brand new strain every hour inside the dispensary during the festival.
In terms of munchies, Three Legged Tacos and Chicago Lunchbox will both have food trucks on site.
One of the biggest goals of the festival is to educate the public, organizers said. The festival will have a licensed doctor on-site who can answer questions potential patients might have about cannabis and how patients can get their medical card.
“It’s an opportunity for people who might not be comfortable going into a dispensary to come and get real honest true answers,” said Julie Shepard PR Director for Verano — a Chicago-based cannabis company that is participating in the festival.
Verano is building a “chill lounge” on site for festival goers who might want a break from the action. The lounge will be custom built by a local artist.
“It will be a nice oasis in the middle of the festival,” said Cramer.
It’s easy to forget that not even a decade ago, cannabis users experienced a much greater level of fear than they do today. Park recalled a time when Adam’s Apple — the oldest head shop in the city — would be raided for selling glass pipes.
Waldo Forever Fest hopes to turn cannabis use into a celebration. A large part of the festival is dedicated to thanking the patients who regular frequent dispensaries.
Just how did Waldo Forever Fest get its name? The story goes that four high schoolers in California regular hung out near a wall, calling themselves “Waldos.” The four Waldos went hunting for an abandoned cannabis plant and set their meeting time for 4:20. The term 420 stuck as coded language for cannabis use.
Last year, the event went off without a hitch, with no instances that required any police attention. Event organizers are hoping to have the event go smoothly again this year.
“It’s important to us that we are good neighbors,” said Park.
For more information about the festival or to RSVP click here.