We were so excited to partner up with a5 branding and digital and the Rogers Park Business Alliance last summer to put on an incredible Chicago street festival–Chalk Howard Street! We loved getting to know the Howard Street neighborhood as we worked on this event throughout the first half of 2019. It is an extremely diverse and artistically charged area–over 80 languages are spoken and the plethora of ethnic cuisine dining options is a clear illustration of that. And it’s so easily accessible from anywhere in Chicago via CTA red line.
While there was certainly a ton of work that came along with this first-year festival, we were extremely proud of the result: an event truly reflective of the vibrant community of Howard Street in Rogers Park. We love these photos that Chris Guillen Photography took showcasing the day’s festivities.
The week leading up to the festival was one of excitement and preparation. Along with a5, we prepared our festival headquarters and began marking off the streets for our artists and vendors so that when festival day came, we were ready for anything that might come our way.
On Friday, the day before the festival, professional artists began to arrive and start working on their pieces. As we saw the pieces begin to come together, our anticipation increased to see what our 2D artists, Jennifer Chaparro, Chelsey Austin, Beth Niemczyk, and Jessi Queen, along with our 3D artists, Nate Baranowski, Anat Ronen, Craig and Jamie Rodgers were going to create!
The morning of July 20th came with a flurry of activity. The Five Grain Events and a5 teams both arrived bright and early to begin festival set up. Before we knew it, the artists had arrived and begun working, the smell of delicious food was wafting over from the vendor booths, and the first band was warming up, ready to begin playing for the crowds that would soon be flooding through our entry tents!
When 11 am hit, the festival officially began and we were overwhelmed with just how many smiling faces were on Howard Street, marveling at the street art, eating and drinking, enjoying the music, and visiting the local businesses nearby. Despite the official heat warning put out by the city of Chicago, the turn-out was fantastic and we were thrilled to have counted about 3,500 attendees!
Around 5 pm, the temperature suddenly dropped and dark rain clouds rolled in. Though the respite from the intense heat was welcome, we knew it was an ominous sign for weather to come. The full production team raced around securing plastic tarps over the artists’ works before the deluge began. Festival attendees ran, laughing and smiling, into the local businesses to sit down for dinner and a drink.
The rain finally let up about an hour later. Though the food and merchant vendors had packed up their wares, and the stage equipment had gotten too wet to safely continue amplified music, dozens of attendees waited with bated breath to see whether the street art had survived under cover. Thankfully, most of the professional artists’ work had been preserved, and people were able to continue appreciating the art, brick-and-mortor local businesses, and even the serendipitously scheduled Four Star Brass Band through the remainder of the evening.
Despite the crazy weather we experienced throughout the day, we had an incredible time pulling together all the details for this one-of-a-kind event. The biggest reward was seeing all of the Rogers Park neighbors come out to enjoy Chalk Howard Street with friends and family. A big thank you to everyone who helped us make this day possible, and we hope to see you all at the 2020 Chalk Howard Street on Saturday, July 18th!