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Despite Rain, Thousands Visit 79th Street Festival

A modest attempt by Mother Nature could not prevent festival-goers from attending the 5th Annual Auburn Gresham 79th Street Renaissance Festival. With an impressive list of over 100 vendors and entertainers, the festival provided magical and musical acts, soul food, fruit platters, tributes to those fallen heroes of 9-1-1, educational and sports offerings, and environmentally friendly demonstrations and products.

“Not even rain could hold back thousands of attendees at our annual festival," said Carlos Nelson, executive director of the Greater Auburn-Gresham Development Corporation (GADC). "We really applaud our residents and business owners for welcoming people from across this country into our community.”

Ben Levine, a native New Yorker and recent graduate of the University of Rochester said, “Wow I am amazed by the number of restaurants in this community. The food is really good here.” 

This festival began in 2006 to commemorate Auburn Gresham residents and business owners who have participated in the rebirth of this historic community. It started off using four city-owned lots and the Chicago Park District's Renaissance Park to promote the neighborhood as a great place to do business, live, work and play.

Today, the 79th Street Festival fills 79th Street between Racine and Loomis Avenues. It is a huge undertaking that requires a year of advanced planning. Led by GADC and CJ and Associates, the festival planning sessions were typically held at Soul Food Unlimited, a local eatery with more than 40 years of service in Auburn Gresham. Each meeting, planners were treated to a hot breakfast to include grits, eggs, turkey bacon, biscuits, orange and apple juices, and hot coffee.

Sponsors included: Alderman Howard Brookins (D-21), Alderman Latasha Thomas (D-17), Beverly Bank, CJ and Associates, Cleanslate, Local Initiatives Support Corporation of Chicago (LISC/Chicago), Quest Development Group LLC, Saint Sabina Church, State Senator Jacqueline Collins (L-16), and UJAMAA Construction. 

Vendors and volunteers included but were not limited to: 006th District Chicago Police Department, Access Community Health Networks, Addus Healthcare, ALDI, All State Insurance, Alpha Learning Center, BJs Market and Bakery, Brotherhood Produce, Catholic Charities/St. Leo Veterans Campus, CEDA, Chicago Children Museum, Chicago Department of Community Development, Chicago Department of Family & Support Services, Chicago Fire Department, Chicago Hopes, Chicago Military Academy at Bronzville, Chicago Public Library, Chicago NSP, Chicago Public Schools, Chicago Sky, Chinese Folk Dance, Citizens Utility Board, City Colleges of Chicago, City of Chicago, CLEAR, Cook County Assessors Office, Country Financial, Curves of Auburn Gresham, DeVry Institute of Technology, East-West University, Farley Jackmaster Funk, Family Health Network Chicago, GAIA Movement, Giggles and Grunt Clowning Service, Governor’s State University, Historic Chicago Bungalow Association, ICE Theaters, Illinois State University - College of Education, In the Paint Basketball and the Jesse White Tumblers.

Also, Johnny Drummer and the Starliters, Kham’ryn B. Shoes and Accessories, Shoes, Kidz Korna Youth Organization, Lena’s Artistic Beauty College, Marquette Bank, MB Financial Bank, Ms. B’s Italian Ice, Ms. Shirley Bryant, Mr./Mrs. Granville Love, Mr. Pratt, Ms. Betty Swanson, New Pisgah Community Service Organization, N Focus, Nubian Dance Cultural Center, Orion’s Mind, Pangea Realty, Perspectives Charter Schools-Calumet, Safer Pest Control Project, Saint Sabina Elder’s Village, Saint Sabina Employment Resource Center, Soul Food Unlimited, State of Illinois, Stella’s African-Caribbean-Soul Food, South Shore Drill Team, Taylor Day School, The Art Institute-Chicago: The International Culinary School, The Original Cool -n- Smooth Bar & Deli, The US Census Bureau, Walgreen’s, We Paint Smiles, WellCare Health Plans Inc., Wooten Security, and World Sports Chicago.

Want to see more photos? Click here.

For more details about becoming a 2011 79th Street Renaissance Festival sponsor, vendor, planner, or volunteer, please contact the GADC offices at 773.483.3696. 

Keywords: 79th Street Renaissance Festival, businesses, entertainment, restaurants

Posted in Community Highlights