AUBURN GRESHAM — Over 20,000 people are expected to turn out this weekend for the Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation’s 14th Annual 79th Street Renaissance Festival this weekend.
The festival at 79th Street and Racine Avenue runs from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. both Saturday and Sunday.
It features food, music and a number of kid-friendly activities, including carnival rides, a petting zoo and a basketball court from non-profit organization Swish Dreams.
The festival was launched 14 years ago by Greater Auburn Gresham Development Corporation’s Executive Director Carlos Nelson and executive Cheryl Johnson to change the perception of the Auburn Gresham community.
It has steadily grown from a modest gathering of a few hundred people in the alley next to St. Sabina Church to one of the biggest events on the South Side.
Organizers plan to give away 500 backpacks and feed over 400 seniors at the event, which, while free, has a $5 suggested donation.
“We’ve had amazing artists headline in the past. Last year, we had CeCe Peniston. We’ve had [gospel artist] Tamala Mann … but what we’re also known for is Jackmaster Funk closing us out every Saturday,” said Alison Scrutchens, one of the festival organizers.
This year’s headline performers include R&B artist Alicia Myers, best known for her hit “I Want To Thank You,” and hip hop legend Chubb Rock, whose “Treat ‘Em Right” dominated the charts in the early 90s. Christoper Williams, another 90’s R&B star, is also scheduled to perform.
Sponsorship from Bank of America, Humana, Fifth Third Bank, Comcast and People’s Gas keeps the festival free, but the suggested donations do help, Scrutchens said.
“It costs more than six figures to put this type of festival on,” said Scrutchens. “We’d love for the community to help keep it going.”
Do stories like this matter to you? Subscribe to Block Club Chicago. Every dime we make funds reporting from Chicago’s neighborhoods.