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Logan Square, Humboldt Park, Avondale

Avondale Business Owners, Artists Are Taking Over Milwaukee Avenue Parking Spaces For One-Day Fest

The free fest is part of the "urbanist holiday" PARK(ing) Day, which encourages people in cities around the world to repurpose parking into active community spaces.

The husband-and-wife team behind Eatin' Puerto Rican (left) and the owner of barber shop, Crooklyn Cutz, 2908 N. Wisner Ave. (right).
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AVONDALE — Neighbors can get everything from a free haircut to a free tap dance lesson Friday at a small arts fest in Avondale.

A handful of local artists and small business owners will be taking over parking spaces at 2912 N. Milwaukee Ave. 4-7 p.m. Friday for “Free Parking” fest, a family-friendly event organized by Milwaukee Avenue Alliance.

The fest is part of the “urbanist holiday” PARK(ing) Day, which encourages people in cities around the world to repurpose parking into active community spaces. The global event is held on the third Friday of September.

Six local artists and small business owners are slated to participate, all offering free treats and activities. The husband-and-wife duo behind Eatin’ Puerto Rican will be serving empanadas while supplies last, the folks behind Books4Cause at 2933 N. Milwaukee Ave. will be handing out books, and the owner of the barber shop Crooklyn Cutz at 2908 N. Wisner Ave. will give free haircuts.

Neighbors are also encouraged to swing by for caricatures from artist Solomon Bovey, music lessons from Access Contemporary Music, and tap dance lessons from Sonic Spirit Collective Trio and Time Brickey. For a full schedule, check out the flyer below.

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Sonic Spirit Collective Trio performing.

The goal of the fest is to highlight local talent and foster community, said Lynn Basa, executive director of the Milwaukee Avenue Alliance. Basa said the event also fits into the group’s larger mission of reviving Milwaukee Avenue between Kimball and Central Park avenues, a stretch that has struggled with business vacancies but is beginning to see a resurgence.

Several projects have sprung up on the stretch in recent months.

The vacant Kay Shoes building at 2839 N. Milwaukee Ave. is getting an overhaul with apartments and ground-floor retail. Bric a Brac record shop is moving to 2843 N. Milwaukee Ave. The owners are also opening an adjoining coffee shop. And Monarch Thrift is moving to a larger storefront at 2875 N. Milwaukee Ave. 

Further north, a developer received approval to rehab and redevelop a vacant six-unit apartment building at 2901 N. Milwaukee Ave.

A festival celebrating local business owners and entrepreneurs is the perfect way to keep that momentum going, Basa said.

“People think it’s a bunch of old buildings that happen to be together. It’s not. This is real Chicago. This is our history,” she said. “This stretch contains multitudes of opportunities — even on a parking space look what you can do.”

The Milwaukee Avenue Alliance received an $1,000 PARK(ing) Day grant from SPIN Scooters to put on the event, Basa said. The grant will allow the organizers to pay participating artists and business owners.

The event is being put on in partnership with Parking Reform Network and Better Block Foundation.

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