As Chicago announces the return of several summer events as part of its newest reopening plan, what does that mean for the future of major city festivals like Lollapalooza and Pitchfork?
Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot declined to say whether the events will go on this year following a cancellation or virtual celebration during the coronavirus pandemic, but she did offer a message of hope.
"What I'm comfortable saying right now is, obviously we're in conversations with the people who have big iconic events over the course of the summer. Those events take a lot of lead time, you can't just flip the switch and turn on something as big as Lolla or some of the other big outdoor events," she said. "We've been in conversation with them for months. They're obviously closely monitoring where we are and as I've tried to say, many, many times, I believe that the summer of 2021, will look more like 19 than 20. And with our announcement today, I think we're signaling we feel very optimistic, or what the about what the summer is going to look like, including some big events."
Chicago announced Thursday a lineup of festivals and events set to take place this summer in the city as officials begin further reopening during the coronavirus pandemic.
"I'm thrilled to announce that we are able to broadly loosen capacity restrictions across industries, starting today, which allows us to welcome back fans to the United Center, reopen Navy Pier and our lakefront beaches, bring back the Windy City Smoke Out, our premiere country music and barbecue festival, as well as a number of summer street festivals and bring back several other loved summer and fall activities, thanks to our new open Chicago initiative," Lightfoot announced Thursday.
Among the list of changes were the return of several events that were canceled last summer due to the pandemic and a lineup of new festivities in celebration of a step closer to normal.
Windy City Smokeout will be the first street festival since the coronavirus pandemic began, marking the start of a string of summer events.
The annual outdoor festival, which features dozens of local and national BBQ pitmasters and restaurants, is expected to host up to 12,500 people per day, the city said. It is slated to take place in the parking lot of the United Center, with "an impressive musical lineup featuring country superstars and up-and-coming talent."
According to city officials, all vendors, performers, ticketholders, and staff will be required to be fully vaccinated. Non-vaccinated attendees will need to show proof of a negative COVID PCR test from within 72 hours of entry to the event.
"Windy City Smokeout is an opportunity for us to show off Chicago, the greatest city in the world, to guests from all around the country," R.J. Melman, president of Lettuce Entertain You Enterprises, said in a statement. "We're thrilled to return this summer and safely welcome everyone back to Chicago outdoor music festivals."
There will also be a new Sunday street festival on State Street.
"In an effort to bring people safely back to the Loop, the city, in partnership with the Chicago Loop Alliance will transform State Street from Madison to Lake into an open street on Sundays beginning July 11," the city announced. "For up to 12 Sundays, a portion of State Street will be closed to vehicle traffic to give pedestrians a chance to experience arts and culture, active recreation, retail, restaurants and bars against the backdrop of State Street’s iconic architecture."