As organizers prepare for a busy weekend in Chicago's Northalsted neighborhood with the return of the Market Days Festival, safety remains a major focus as the coronavirus pandemic persists.
"We’re really excited about this weekend," said Mark Liberson, the festival chairperson. "We put a lot of precautions into place to make sure we’re communicating a message of safety for the people who are in attendance."
The three-day street festival is one of the largest in the country with nearly 100,000 people expected to attend. It was canceled last year because of the pandemic.
"We’re really just wanting people to celebrate safely our community coming together again," he said.
Proof of vaccination is not required to get into the festival stretching from Addison to Belmont on Halsted, but Liberson said people who haven’t done so can get tested or vaccinated at the festival. Those not vaccinated are encouraged to wear a mask and social distance.
"As people are entering, we’re going to be celebrating vaccination pride here at the event," he said. "We’re going to be giving out stickers for people who present their identification cards showing that they’re vaccinated or other proof of vaccination."
Many bars and restaurants in Northhalsted are already turning to vaccination-only services.
Other street and music festivals, like Ruido Fest in Union Park and Riot Fest in Douglass Park, are still scheduled to go on this summer, with organizers requiring attendees to show proof of vaccination or a negative test to enter, just like Lollapalooza.
"I think it’s a reasonable middle ground to have concerts outside, verified vaccination," said Dr. Vishnu Chundi, chair of the Chicago Medical Society COVID-19 Task Force. "I think the rules should be the same for everyone as we did for Lollapalooza."
Dr. Chundi doesn't think outdoor street and music festivals will lead to an outbreak of COVID cases.
"I don't think it’s going to turn into a big super spreader event," he said. "You are going to have some spread, [but] I don’t think its going to overwhelm the hospitals. We’re not Florida, when you look and see what’s happening in Florida with the disaster with 10,000 hospitalizations."
Pitchfork Music Festival announced on its website, in addition to the entry requirements, a mask will also be required throughout festival grounds. The website states attendees may remove their mask when actively eating or drinking. A spokesperson did not say how they plan to enforce the mask requirement.
As for Market Days, organizers hope people attending will do the right thing, from masking up to getting vaccinated.
"We hope that the people who are coming will be vaccinated. We hope that if they’re not vaccinated that they will be testing prior to entry, and we're hoping that people will be celebrating each other and be part of this great community in the city of Chicago."
Market Days starts Friday, Aug. 4, with a suggested donation for admission and runs through Sunday.