Brew Fest 2

The crowd at a past Hyde Park Brew Fest, now renamed the Hyde Park Summer Fest

Though the Silver Room Block Party and Chosen Few Picnic and Music Festival have both been cancelled again this year, the neighborhood's third major summertime event, Hyde Park Summer Fest, is a go, likely after Labor Day.

Jonathan Swain, owner of the Kimbark Beverage Shoppe, 1214 E. 53rd St., and Summer Fest's lead organizer, said a few dates and neighborhood venues are under discussion. 

"Because of COVID, we have to look at various options because of spacing. We're well-aware of what we've had in the past in terms of turnout," he said in an interview. "As we're having conversations with city agencies, we're trying to finalize those plans."

Summer Fest would typically be held the first weekend of June. With the delay, Swain is trying to ensure that there will be music equipment to rent and vendors and performers to book. He said he wants to "lean heavy" on Chicago talent but that he is in conversation with some national headliners to DJ.

Eric Williams of The Silver Room, 1506 E. 53rd St., has cast doubt on the long-term existence of his Block Party, pointing out the gargantuan expense he bears to throw the festival year over year. (The Chosen Few's Music Festival, meanwhile, is going online over Fourth of July for the second year in a row.)

Swain, for his part, pointed out Summer Fest's beginning as a beer-sampling event with the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce's Celebrate Hyde Park festival; the event was known as the Hyde Park Brew Fest from 2014-19.

While there are years that he loses money or just breaks even, he said the money he raises from selling tickets for beer samples, which will be available this year, are part of what keeps Summer Fest worth continuing from a monetary standpoint.

But he added that he began the event out of a conviction that "the South Side deserves everything that every other community has," recalling seeing so many South Siders at North Side festivals before what became Summer Fest began.

"One of the great things that I really enjoy about it is that our event, the Chosen Few Picnic, The Silver Room — we all kind of do it similarly. We bring people together who haven't seen each other in a long time and allow them to connect. It becomes a point of reconnection for community. For me, that drives it," Swain said. 

"Do we look to make money on it? Absolutely. But It's just as much as an economic engine for vendors and other businesses as it is a community-unifier."

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