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Waldos Forever 4/20 Fest Goes Online After Coronavirus Cancels Huge Street Party Plans

Dispensary33 had plans for a big street festival in Andersonville, but the coronavirus outbreak interfered.

Hanna Walkowaik/Do312
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ANDERSONVILLE — Plans for a large street festival to celebrate Chicago’s first weed-friendly 4/20 holiday under legal cannabis have gone up in smoke thanks to the coronavirus.

But the celebration will go on — digitally, this time.

Andersonville’s Dispensary33 has announced this year’s version of Waldos Forever Fest will have the slogan #420InPlace, and will take place starting at 4:20 p.m. Saturday. The festival will be livestreamed and include performances and pot-friendly demonstrations like cooking with cannabis.

RELATED: With Business Booming, Dispensary33 Eyes Major Expansion In Andersonville

This will be the third year that Dispensary33 has held the Waldos Forever Fest, meant to highlight the cannabis holiday held on or near April 20th — or 4/20, the number or slogan associated with cannabis culture.

For the first iteration of the festival under new legal cannabis laws, Dispensary33 and Do312 had planned a major street festival on Clark Street in Andersonville.

Previous versions of the festival took place on a side street near the dispensary, and it was mostly a way to entertain patients waiting in line for medical marijuana on what was one of the biggest days for sales. But last year, about 6,000 people showed up, said Abigail Watkins, director of marketing for Dispensary33.

Credit: Hanna Walkowaik/Do312
Waldos Forever Fest, held to honor the pot-friendly holiday known as 4/20, will be held virtually this year. [Courtesy Do312]

So for this year, organizers planned to hold a street festival Saturday on the stretch of Clark Street near Dispensary33 at 5001 N. Clark St. Food trucks, cannabis-related vendors, local groups and nonprofits were to set up in the street. A stage was to be erected in a nearby parking lot, and music acts were booked, Watkins said.

But with Gov. JB Pritzker extending the state’s stay-at-home order through April, the festival could not move forward as planned. Waldos Forever Fest joins a number of other street fairs being canceled in the wake of the outbreak.

Instead, the fest will be held virtually, with music acts, performers and demonstrations being streamed via the platform Twitch.

“We believe cannabis brings people together and that’s exactly what we’ll do,” Dispensary33 said about the event.

There will be cooking demonstrations from chefs and businesses including Edgewater’s Sauce and Bread Kitchen. Chicago band White Mystery will perform, as will drag performers Bambi Banks Couleé and Lucy Stoole. Artistic performances including glass blowing and neon bending will be held.

The stream will be accessible through Dispensary33’s Waldos Forever Fest website, and more information on the event can be found on its Facebook page.

The virtual-version of the festival does solve one potential problem for festival organizers. Smoking of cannabis is prohibited in public spaces, including street festivals. Festival organizers were taking pains to make sure those laws were adhered to, including not allowing glass pipe manufactures and other smoking equipment sellers to set up at the event.

But that won’t be an issue with people tuning in from their homes, because it’s legal to smoke cannabis on private property.

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