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Pilsen, Little Village, West Loop

Pilsen’s Michelada Fest, A Celebration Of Mexican Culture, Returns After A Pandemic Postponement

The festival, which honors Latino culture and one of its staple beverages, kicks off Friday.

A Mexican Michelada is made with beer, lime juice, assorted sauces, spices, tomato juice and more. The festival provides a variety of Micheladas, including a non-alcoholic option.
Provided/Chicago Michelada Festival
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PILSEN — Chicago’s Michelada Fest is coming back with an in-person cultural celebration filled with drinks, food and music.

The outdoor event is 3-10 p.m. Friday and noon-10 p.m. Saturday-Sunday at Harrison Park, 1824 S. Wood St.

General admission tickets are $20 Friday and $50 Saturday and Sunday. Children younger than 17 are free on Friday and children younger than 12 are free with a paying adult.

Last year’s event was postponed because of the pandemic. Live performances this year will include artists RKM & Ken-Y, Angel Y Khriz, J Alvarez, Guaynaa and Grupo Vanguardia.

And, of course, there will be several varieties of micheladas, traditionally made using beer, lime juice and an assortment of sauces, spices and peppers.

“2020 was a hard year for everybody … a lot of people had to stay in for 2020, and it was kind of disappointing to not be able to go out and experience everything that we used to have,” said Nina Vieyra, co-executive director of Michelada Fest.

“So, bringing it back this year was hard. … We got a late start, but we are excited, excited to be back here now, and to be within the community.” 

Credit: Provided/Chicago Michelada Festival
The Chicago Michelada Festival aims to support diversity and bring cultural representation to the Latinx community in Chicago.

This is the second year the festival has taken place at Harrison Park. Organizers said it originated as the Pilsen Taco Fest, where they served micheladas for the first time and saw its popularity. They decided to create Michelada Fest to highlight the iconic drink that is a staple in the Latino community. 

Organizers hope to bring 10,000 visitors daily to the Pilsen-based festival. Friday will be a community day with traditional banda and tamborazo music. Reggaeton artists will perform Saturday and Sunday.

The festival’s return not only is important for attendees, but also for Latino vendors who will sell food and merchandise throughout the weekend.

“They took an enormous hit” because of the pandemic, said Fernando Nieto, festival founder and director. “This is how they make a living. A lot of them don’t have brick-and-mortar restaurants. They do the festival circuit, spring, summer, early fall, and they were just devastated.” 

Nieto said he hopes the festival can boost the representation of Latino cultural celebrations in the city and benefit its neighborhoods. Michelada Fest is one of the events Nieto’s nonprofit organization, Grassroots Events, hosts to raise money for local organizations. Previous events have benefitted the Illinois Dream Fund, Yollocalli Arts Reach, ElevArte Community Studio and Mujeres Latinas en Accion.

“We’re very big believers in supporting local events,” Nieto said. “We’re very proud to be Pilsen-based, a young organization that is trying to do cool events but also give back to the community.”

Non-vaccinated attendees are asked to wear masks and bring proof of a negative COVID-19 test result within 72 hours of the event. Vaccinated attendees are asked to bring their vaccination cards. 

The festival also will provide on-site COVID-19 testing and free vaccinations Friday and Saturday in partnership with Rush Hospital.

Go online for more information and tickets.

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