If it's St. Patrick's Day in Chicago, you can be sure there's a
celebration somewhere. But if a big parade isn't your thing, be
sure to check out the South Side Irish Family Fest.
Last year, the legendary-and raucous-South Side parade was
replaced with the fest, now a two-day event. The over-21 crowd has
their fun on Friday and Saturday nights, while daytime Saturday is
reserved for families.
"This is a way to get back to some of the parade's
roots-the real roots of heritage, culture and families being
together," says organizer Grace Kuikman.
The family fest begins at noon at the Beverly Arts Center.
Kuikman advises wearing comfortable shoes, and be prepared to find
In the spirit of togetherness, families are invited to
bake a loaf of soda bread to be judged.
"People are so proud of their family recipes," Kuikman
says. "I just really liked seeing how much the families were
Kids can also try their hand at free crafts, like
leprechaun hats, and watch a short musical fairy tale-with an Irish
twist-from Chicago Kids Company.
While the kids are occupied, mom and dad can check out the
vendors selling authentic Irish wares, sample traditional fest food
or down an Irish pint.
Even the family pet gets in on the action with the "Lucky
Dog" contest, where costumed pups compete to display their Irish
If you're still in the mood for a parade, you won't be
disappointed. Kids march around the art center's block, floats,
bikes and wagons in tow. The parade begins at 2:30 p.m., so come
dressed to march. It's chilly out there!
And just as with the old parade, you don't have to have
Irish blood in your veins to enjoy the day.
"I think the fest is welcoming to everybody," says
Kuikman, who is Dutch. "Everyone is Irish on St. Patrick's Day in
Elizabeth Diffin is the associate editor at Chicago Parent. She lives in Wheaton.
See more of Elizabeth's stories here.
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