Shelves at Semicolon Bookstore's new location in Wicker Park Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago

WICKER PARK — A Wicker Park bookstore is hosting a street festival this fall featuring author talks, book vendors, music and speciality cocktails inspired by writers attending the event.

Semicolon Bookstore, 1714 W. Division St., will hold its first Lit Fest Oct. 22 on Division Street, which will be closed to traffic from Paulina Street to Wood Street for the day.

Semicolon owner Danielle Mullen said the idea for the festival grew out of a desire to expand in-store author readings in a fun and lively environment, inspired by Chicago’s vibrant street festival scene.

“We wanted something that will allow people to actually interact with the authors they love, but also in a fun atmosphere, where we would be able to just share our love of books, among other things,” she said.

Semicolon moved to Wicker Park in October, having outgrown its original storefront on Halsted Street in River West. Since opening in 2019, the bookstore has focused on showcasing authors of color and work by local artists. 

Authors attending the festival include José Olivarez, Jessamine Chan, Sidik Fofana and more. Additional authors could still be announced ahead of the festival, Mullen said.

While the festival is free to attend, Semicolon is selling special VIP tickets which give attendees full access to all author signings, as well as specialty cocktails — or mocktails — that will be paired with each author. There will also be tickets available for specific author signings.

Tickets will go on sale Friday morning on Semicolon’s website, with proceeds benefitting Parenthesis, a nonprofit Mullen runs that sponsors literacy efforts in Chicago Public Schools.

Vendors at Lit Fest will include Black-owned bookstores from around the country, as well as food trucks and a DJ. The festival will be hosted by Jurema Gorham, executive director of Chicago literacy nonprofit Burst Into Books.

“I want people to get excited about literary festivals like they do about festivals like Lollapalooza, or, you know, Taste of Chicago. And so we had to create it, that’s what we’re interested in doing,” Mullen said.

Lit Fest runs noon-8 p.m. Oct. 22 outside Semicolon Bookstore on Division Street in Wicker Park.

Semicolon Bookstore owner Danielle Mullen outside the store at 1714 W. Division St. in Wicker Park Credit: Quinn Myers/Block Club Chicago

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