By: Aaron Ramirez
What do Viking hats, sangria, and ABBA have in common? Andersonville’s annual Midsommarfest. This year marked the festival’s 53rd annual celebration. Lining Clark Street between Foster and Catalpa vendors restaurants and local organizations come to celebrate the neighborhood’s Swedish heritage. This year’s Midsommarfest was held Friday-Sunday, June 8-12. Midsommerfest was born from the annual celebration of the summer solstice. Andersonville native Matt McMahon says this is his favorite festival in Chicago: “I enjoy the chance to enjoy the summer while being in my neighborhood supporting the local shops.”
Eighties tribute band and popular festival band, 16 Candles, kicked off the festival the Friday night. Playing songs from the likes of Michael Jackson, Rush, and Prince. 16 Candles weren’t the only tribute band. Pulling songs from the catalogs of One Direction, Backstreet Boys, and ‘NSYNC, The Boy Band Night partied in the night Saturday. One of the biggest crowds formed in front of the ABBA Salute stage. With their amazing vocals, they pulled off the Swedish bands most popular hits “Mama Mia,” “Dancing Queen,” “Waterloo,” “Fernando.” The band didn’t want the party to end and stood firm with their commitment to, “Sing till the sound ordinance tells us to stop!”
The music isn’t the only thing that draws people to Midsommarfest. The booths are filled with food to show off Andersonville’s best dishes to delight everyone’s taste buds. Ranalli’s served their signature pizza and Hamburger Mary’s was slinging mini-burgers $3.00 a slider. But it’s the drinks that get people in the party spirit. People could wash their chicken-on-a-stick down with spiked seltzer water or a summery concoction from a pineapple. Before buying from the booths take a walk into one the dining establishments. Insider tip from Reggie Alston, “The drinks at Reza’s are cheaper than the ones on the street! the sangria was amazing.”
Local celebrities came out to play. Many RuPaul Drag Race alumni were presenting “Showtime.” Naysha Lopez hosted the show, festival goers could watch lip sync assassin Dida Ritz and fellow Chicago Drag Performers on Saturday and Sunday at the Balmoral Pride Stage.
Unfortunately, the weather was not shining down on the festival this year. Saturday found itself the busiest with the gloom and doom of Sunday spritzers scaring away festival goers, or to seek shelter inside a nearby party. At the 5400 block of N. Ashland, Clayon Terrill’s house party came to a crashing halt. His second-floor balcony collapsed along with approximately 20 party goers. The DJ for the party was below the balcony when it crashed, but came out with a head injury. He along with two other attendees were sent to local hospitals for a fractured leg and another for a fractured wrist. It’s been speculated the weekend’s poor weather helped contribute to the accident.
For many, Midsommarfest marks the beginning of Summer. So, plan to break out your Viking hats next summer and join the 50,000 people that already know about one the city’s most popular festivals.