News about 53rd St. in Hyde Park, Chicago


3rd Annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest Adds Second Day, Children's Book Fair; October 6 and 7

The annual Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest will return to 53rd Street this year as a bigger, more family-friendly event, adding a second day of musical performances and including a popular Children’s Book Fair in the lineup of youth activities.

The 2012 festival will be held Saturday, October 6, and Sunday, October 7, and will feature Chicago-area performers, including Dave Matthews tribute band the Trippin Billies and R&B artists Chicago Catz. The extra day is expected to boost festival attendance from about 9,000 people in 2011 to 15,000 - 20,000 this year.

As part of the Celebrate Hyde Park festival series, Oktoberfest is designed to attract people to the fast-growing 53rd Street retail corridor. The festivals are sponsored by the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, which includes the University of Chicago as the lead festival sponsor, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce, and the South East Chicago Commission, among others.

“Three years ago, we set out with a mission to help bring people of all ages to 53rd Street for fun and entertainment,” said Wendy Williams, executive director of the SECC, which organizes the festival. “Today, Oktoberfest and other Celebrate Hyde Park festivals have become widely anticipated community events and a significant part of the cultural offerings of the neighborhood.”

In addition to musical performances, scheduled activities include a beer garden for adults and a pumpkin patch, parade, pony rides and other entertainment for children—all for a suggested donation of $5. Food and retail vendors also will line 53rd Street from Dorchester to Kimbark Avenues. Children’s activities will be held in Nichols Park, adjacent to 53rd. Festival hours will be 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

New home for former 57th Street Children’s Book Fair

Among the activities in Nichols Park will be the Children’s Book Fair, which previously had been held on 57th Street in Hyde Park for 25 years. A new addition to Oktoberfest, the book fair will include author appearances and book signings as well as books for purchase. The fair will be open from 1 – 6 p.m. both days on the south end of Nichols Park, near 55th and Kimbark.

“Oktoberfest continues to get bigger and better,” said Wallace Goode, executive director of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce. “The mix of entertainment and vendor offerings attracts people from both surrounding neighborhoods and other parts of the city and provides an opportunity for local businesses to show what they have to offer.”

For access to the Celebrate Hyde Park mobile app and for updates on Oktoberfest, text CHP to 72727.

Visioning workshop report available for review and input

Community members’ vision for 53rd Street was a key topic at the 53rd Street TIF Advisory Council meeting earlier this week. South East Chicago Commission Executive Director Wendy Williams presented a preliminary report from the 53rd Street Visioning Workshop that took place on April 21 this year. The workshop was the fourth held since 2007, after the City of Chicago, the University of Chicago, local elected officials and the community began partnering to redevelop and revitalize the commercial corridor on 53rd.

More than 200 community residents attended the April workshop and shared their ideas and opinions on three topics: redevelopment of the Mobil site at 1330 E. 53rd, Nichols Park in relation to the commercial corridor, and the overall 53rd Street experience. The preliminary report details those ideas and provides an overview of progress that has been made toward achieving community members’ vision expressed in earlier workshops.

Both Williams and 4th Ward Alderman Will Burns asked that individuals who attended the workshop read the preliminary report to make sure all the ideas presented at the workshop are included in the final report. Download the preliminary report here, and send any changes to SECC Program Manager James Kenady at by Monday, July 16, 2012.

Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival Attracts More Vendors, Sponsors in its Third Year

This weekend 100 vendors will set up booths along East 53rd Street as part of the third annual Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival, up from 60 vendors at the first festival in 2010.

The increase in vendor participation is a sign of the festival’s growing popularity and the fact that it has become a signature event in the Hyde Park community, according to Wendy Williams, executive director of the South East Chicago Commission, a key festival sponsor.

Nearly 60,000 people turned out for the festival last year and sponsors expect 2012 attendance to exceed that.

“People attending this year’s festival will have the opportunity to browse the wares and offerings of about 85 art and specialty vendors and 16 food vendors,” Williams said. “More than a dozen of these will be local Hyde Park businesses and several also have a store-front presence along 53rd Street, so there will be an extra opportunity to support local businesses.”

Festival sponsorship also is up this year, with more than 20 corporate, community and individual sponsors lending support. The Hyde Park Vitality Committee, which launched the first festival, continues to be the main sponsor. The committee includes the SECC, the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce and UChicago’s Office of Civic Engagement, among others.

The two-day festival, which will take place this coming Saturday and Sunday, June 30 and July 1, features live musical performances, shopping and other entertainment. Headlining this year’s event are two 1970s music icons—the Average White Band and Roy Ayers. The main festival will be held on 53rd Street between Harper and Kimbark Avenues, with activities for children in Nichols Park. Festival hours will be 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. both days, with face painting, kids’ yoga and other children’s activities from noon to 4 p.m.

Admission is open to the public, and a $5 donation is requested.

Download a festival map, with vendor and sponsor listings below. For more information, visit

Roy Ayers performs at the 2011 Celebrate Hyde Park Summer Festival.