Get You Some Jerk Mon

5,000 people expected at second annual Chicago Caribbean JerkFest

If you want some good jerk chicken in Chicago -- with the emphasis on "good" -- depending on where you live, it might be a bit of a hike.

Many jerk fans rejoiced when Uncle Joe's opened a Hyde Park location, eliminating the trek to 82nd and Cottage Grove. We were sad to see JR's Caribbean Hut leave its South Indiana Ave. location, but happy to find another outpost in the city. 'Nuff respect to Ja Grill in Lincoln Park, a more upscale Jamaican eatery, and big ups to The Jerk Villa at Halsted and 79th whose jerk is like fiyah. Lawda mercy!

But if you don't have time to drive around the city, there's an even simpler solution for sampling the best jerk. On Saturday, the aroma of nutmeg and allspice will be wafting from West Loop's Union Park (1501 W. Randolph) at the second annual Chicago Caribbean JerkFest.

The festival, the only one of its kind in the Midwest, is expected to draw 5,000 people, according to organizers.

One of the most popular events is sure to be the Jerk Cook-off, which features both professional and amateur chefs competing and displaying their skills.

And it's not just chicken -- jerk will be incorporated in dishes containing everything from pork to ice cream.

Local Caribbean bands and DJs will entertain, along with a guest appearance by New York's Vybz Evolution Band and Indika Reggae Band. And it wouldn't be a proper Caribbean "lime" if there wasn't some dominoes involved. The "pickney" can hang out in the Kidz Zone.

Tickets are $10 in advance, $15 at the gate, and the cool runnings last from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.

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