A trip to Chicago’s 57th Street/Hyde Park Art Fair with baby in tow

Last weekend we managed to knock an item off of our summer bucket list: we attended an outdoor neighborhood festival!

Now for most Chicagoans, this is not a big deal…festivals happen every weekend, you go, you sight see, you drink beer/wine/iced coffee, and so on. However, for a bug phobic, debit card dependent person like myself, outdoor shopping is anxiety producing at best.

While chasing my child through the 53rd St Farmer’s market on Thursday (why were there so many signs with animals on them? Don’t they know my kid loooooves pictures of animals?) we saw a poster for the 57th St Art Fair taking place over the weekend.

My first thought? I don’t like art. Not in a, “oh, I don’t understand it so I say dismissive things about it” way, but more in a “exactly whose home has a place waiting in it for a 6 ft tall painting of a rooster?” kind of way. But that’s ok.I go to art museums and admire the art others put in their homes with the appropriate amount of tilted head nodding and clucking about “perspective”. My second thought? My kid is going to break something and I’ll have to display said broken piece of art in my home forever to justify it’s inevitable $500+ price tag.

But I was feeling bold and plucky this weekend, so we threw caution to the wind (making sure we had money in our account, just in case) and headed out.

I wasn’t sure what to expect…it didn’t seem like an 80 degree day, oil paintings and a toddler nearing naptime could possibly go well, but I was pleasantly surprised. Here are the 3 things I learned while branching out and attempting to interject some culture into our weekend:

1) If you like to eat, festivals are where its at!

I don’t drink beer, and since I’m still nursing, I limit my wine intake to a measly glass at a time, so festivals involving heavy drinking have lost their charm these days. However, I forgot that my deep and abiding love of fried foods could be well taken care of by the many vendors hawking their tasty, greasy wares.

2) This is why people like Chicago in the summer

After months of waking up to cold floors and snow buried cars I’m pretty sure no one gives a damn what’s being sold, everyone is just happy to be out and about. So happy in fact, that the normally annoying crying kids and weird guys who stand too close to you when they talk are completely enchanting. Shoot, the guy handing our pamphlets about why I’m going to hell is even vaguely less aggravating when the sun is shining.

3) It’s about the people watching, duh!

As much of a spectacle as we were, with the nursing on street corners and then carrying a passed out toddler on my back so his limp arms can smack anyone who is standing too close when I turn the corner, there were many other folks strutting about demonstrating the amazing diversity of the Hyde Park area. Including one woman who may have been wearing a piece of jewelry and clothing from every vendor at the fair. God Bless you lady for supporting local artists!

Now, you may be wondering what I learned about art from visiting this historic art venue. The answer: nothing. Not for any lack of opportunities to, but simply because for us, the art simply provided a colorful backdrop for the chance to remind ourselves why we haven’t made the run for the ‘burbs.

What’s your favorite summer festival in the Chi?

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