HYDE PARK — The Hyde Park Brew Fest is being reborn, as organizers have swapped out the name of the annual neighborhood bash to emphasize its focus on community building and family-friendly activities.
The newly rebranded Hyde Park Summer Fest will take place Sept. 11-12, bringing a weekend of local and national talent to the Midway Plaisance at 59th Street and Woodlawn Avenue.
The event’s name change comes as “the fest has organically grown bigger than just the ‘brew’ connotation,” co-organizer and Hyde Park native Dave Jeff said. “It’s definitely Chicago, it’s definitely South Side, and it’s definitely Hyde Park.”
DJ Jazzy Jeff headlines the festival with a Sunday performance. It’s the “Fresh Prince” turntablist’s second appearance at the event.
He’ll be one of the few performers who isn’t a Chicago native, as organizers look to go “heavy” on the local talent and try to recruit artists such as Terry Hunter, Jay Illa, Allen King, Vince Adams and DJ Mustafa Rocks to the event, Jeff said.
“DJ Jazzy Jeff is like family,” he said. “We went with Jazzy Jeff outside of our normal Chicago talent [because] Jeff is everybody’s mentor; Jeff is everybody’s favorite DJ.”
Jeff and co-organizer Jonathan Swain, who owns the Kimbark Beverage Shoppe at 1214 E. 53rd St., usually spend about 10 months planning the festival. They typically start preparing for the next year’s festival soon after the prior event ends, Jeff said.
A condensed timeline this year, finalized after the city reopened earlier this month, led the organizers to schedule the event at summer’s end rather than its traditional slot at the start of the season.
Meantime, the organizers are looking to create “more of an experience” to build on the previous festivals’ focus on beer, Jeff said.
The festival will feature “a mix of the cultures, fashion, beer, trinkets and things, cigars — just a good time and a good vibe,” Jeff said.
Restaurant concepts are in the works, and Jeff will use his fashion background and his PHLI label — pronounced “fly,” and the acronym for “I love Hyde Park” in reverse — to attract other designers and branded items.
The event will coincide with the month-long Chicago In Tune program, a new citywide festival and celebration of local artistry taking place Aug. 19 to Sept. 19, Jeff said.
Sponsors include the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and Maker’s Mark. The festival’s vendor booths can provide support for local businesses who have been impacted by the pandemic, the chamber’s executive director, Wallace Goode Jr., said.
“We are beyond excited for the return of the Hyde Park Summer Fest,” Goode said in a statement. “This past year hit our communities hard. But this summer, we are ready to support all of our local businesses and vendors through this recovery period.”
Organizers will “do our due diligence as far as hand sanitizing, social distancing” and other coronavirus precautions, but attendees will not face any restrictions amid the city’s move to a full reopening, Jeff said. He and Swain are finalizing plans to bring a vaccination event to the festival grounds.
Past events have drawn close to 20,000 attendees, and organizers anticipate a similar crowd this year.
“Our festival amplifies our greatest strength — community,” Swain said in a statement. “The pandemic has taught us all the value of relationships and how much we need each other. The Hyde Park Summer Fest is an opportunity to connect and celebrate how far we’ve come.”
More information about the Hyde Park Summer Fest will be released throughout the summer on the event’s website.
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