HYDE PARK — A South Side showcase of cultural talent and craft breweries that got its start in a Hyde Park parking lot will celebrate its growth into a “major music festival” as it it returns from a long pandemic hiatus this summer.
The seventh edition of the Hyde Park Summer Fest, formerly known as the Hyde Park Brew Fest, will take place June 11-12 on the Midway Plaisance at Dorchester Avenue.
Known for its sets from local DJs, the festival will expand to include internationally recognized talent this year, organizers said.
Rappers Busta Rhymes and Lupe Fiasco, a native West Sider; R&B singer and native South Sider BJ the Chicago Kid; and English soul singer Marsha Ambrosius are this year’s headliners. More artists will be announced in the weeks to come, organizers said.
The lineup remains loaded with DJs, including the legendary DJ Jazzy Jeff of “Fresh Prince” fame and local turntablists Dee Jay Alicia, Terry Hunter, Jay Illa and Mike P.
“Chicago DJ culture is really at the foundation of this event and always has been,” said festival founder Jonathan Swain, who owns the Kimbark Beverage Shoppe at 1214 E. 53rd St. and is running to replace Rep. Bobby Rush (D-1st) in Congress.
In a Summer Fest first, this year’s edition will be a ticketed affair. One-day passes start at $49, while two-day tickets start at $80. To buy tickets, click here.
“Thinking about the growth and long-term sustainability of the event, we pivoted” to a ticketed format, Swain said. “It allows us to have national and international recording artists, some of whom have never been to the South Side.”
Ten percent of each ticket will be donated to nearby Chicago Public Schools, supported by a matching donation from the charitable arm of South Shore-based Bowa Construction. The schools can use the funds to improve their buildings, hire staff or do anything else that would “be impactful for the students,” Swain said.
Swain and festival creative director Dave Jeff planned to hold the Hyde Park Summer Fest on the Midway in September 2021, with DJ Jazzy Jeff as headliner. But the event was canceled amid concerns over the Delta variant of COVID-19.
After battling waves of Delta and Omicron variants in the months since, Swain said he and Jeff are “tremendously excited about the comeback” and confident their plans won’t be upended this summer.
The Midway provides more room for attendees to spread out than the festival’s most recent location at 53rd Street and Harper Court, the organizers said. The open space is needed as the event has grown from a street festival into a “major music festival” in the vein of a Lollapalooza or a Lyrical Lemonade Summer Smash, Jeff said.
Organizers said they expect a turnout similar to that of past festivals, which drew up to 25,000 attendees.
“With us growing, we’re able to add … that live music element,” said Jeff, who runs the PHLI clothing label and has a background in fashion and entertainment. “We think the city is going to be elated with the lineup, as well.”
Lupe Fiasco’s performance aligns with the 15th anniversary of his second studio album, “The Cool.” Slotted at 75 minutes, Lupe’s set will provide enough time for him to perform the album in full, Jeff said — much like he did at last year’s Riot Fest.
While planning for the festival’s return and expansion, Swain has also been planning his political future. He said his Congressional run has had little impact on planning for the festival.
“The only difference between this year and previous year is we’ve had to pay more legal fees,” as the organizers have needed to ensure “we’re not violating any election laws,” Swain said.
Asked about how his involvement in the festival would change if he’s elected, Swain said, “We’re going to have conversations about that when we get there. There’s a lot of time between now and the election.”
The organizers’ vision for the festival is “for it to be a showcase of all the best of the South Side,” and a reflection of “the best our city has to offer,” Swain said.
“The narrative is that the South Side only gets mentioned when things are going bad,” he said. The festival “counters that narrative. The South Side is rich, vibrant and essential to the city of Chicago.”
With music, food, beers and art, along with a “Chicago marketplace” to uplift local brands, this year’s Summer Fest will offer “a great experience in sound and culture,” Jeff said.
“It’s been awesome to see it grow,” and it can hopefully continue that growth in the years to come, he said.
“Jonathan and I’s visions are definitely aligned fully,” Jeff said. “I think that when we connected early on, we wanted it to be this big … . Now, we’re here, and we want it to be as big as it can go.”
For more information on the Hyde Park Summer Fest, visit the event’s website.
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