The Summer Shade Festival returns to Grant Park for its 20th year — Music, art, beer galore this weekend
By Hannah E. Jones
What began as a modest celebration with a few pizzas and a guitarist has since grown into a community-wide festival in the city’s oldest and fifth-largest park. This Saturday and Sunday, Grant Park is holding its 20th annual Summer Shade Festival.
Hosted by the Grant Park Conservancy (GPC) — the nonprofit managing the park — and presented by Southern Feedstore, the free festival will feature two days of live music from local bands like KHALIKO and The Steady Wicked, 150 booths at the artist market and eats from 15 food vendors. The festival will also include a kid zone with bouncy houses and a spider jump.
“We have a full music lineup, both Saturday and Sunday, starting at noon,” GPC Director of Operations Alisa Chambers said. “We’re really excited this year about a lot of the bands. A lot of them are super locals from Grant Park, and we try to show off up-and-coming local artists.”
The artist market includes a whole gamut of crafts like stained glass, jewelry, metalwork and more.
“One that I’m really excited about — We’ve got a very cute 15-year-old who sells plants out of her horse trailer and everybody loves it,” Chambers said. “We’ve got another one that I’m excited about where they make a tiny replica of your house. It’s the cutest thing I’ve ever seen.”
This is the first year since 2019 that the festival has been held in person, so the GPC team is especially excited for the upcoming festivities. They held a virtual event in 2020, but Chambers said it was “just not the same.”
The Summer Shade Festival is a fundraising event for GPC and the team typically aims to raise around $75,000. While the event is free to attend, GPC will raise money through beer sales — with Monday Night Brewing as the event’s craft beer sponsor — and donations.
“All the good alcohol — We’ve got it. You can come drink it and help us raise funds,” Chambers said.
As keepers of the oldest park in the city, GPC takes pride in its role and staying power in the community.
“[Twenty years] means we have a good standing in the community and people trust us to present a good, fun, safe event that they want to keep coming to. That is what we are here for as the Conservancy — to be an organization that can be relied on in the community.”
She continued: [We hope visitors] enjoy this last weekend of summer and, hopefully, some nice weather and cold beer. We want everyone to think of Grant Park as a place to hang out even on a non-festival day.”
If you want to learn more about this weekend’s festivities at Grant Park’s Summer Shade Festival, click here.
Check out snapshots of the 2019 Summer Shade Festival. Photos by Kelly Jordan.