PILSEN — Local chefs will once again compete to determine who has the city’s best mole at Pilsen’s 13th annual Mole de Mayo Memorial Day weekend.
The fest will run noon-10 p.m. May 27-28 and noon-9 p.m. May 29 on 18th Street between Blue Island and Ashland avenues. It returns as an in-person celebration this year after virtual or reduced versions of the festival were held the past two years due to the pandemic.
The weekend features a mole cook-off, live music and lucha libre Mexican wrestling. Mole is a Mexican sauce typically made with chili peppers, spices, nuts and chocolate, and it’s traditionally served over enchiladas and meats.
The event is free, but organizers ask for a $5 donation from individuals and $10 from families.
Alex Esparza, executive director of the Economic Strategies Development Corporation, said he’s excited to welcome people back to the fest in-person this year.
“We’ve had some presence online virtually, but it’s nothing like having some good music, some traditional Mexican food and in some good ambience on the streets of our neighborhood,” Esparza said.
The mercado — or market — layout will be different from years past, Esparza said. Instead of having vendor tents along the sidewalks on 18th Street, vendors will be back-to-back in the middle of the street to encourage people to also visit the brick-and-mortar businesses that line 18th Street, he said.
“The point is to get people to see that there’s local neighborhood businesses right behind those tents that they probably never knew were there because we were blocking out with the tents in the years prior,” Esparza said.
The complete list of performers will be announced closer to the event. There are still a few spaces available for vendors and artists who’d like a space at the mercado.
Mole de Mayo will run the same dates at the city’s first Sueños Festival featuring Latin Reggaeton musicians in Grant Park. Esparza said he’s “not at all” worried about the overlap.
“We’re way different,” he said. “We have great artists with a great neighborhood to be in for the weekend.”
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