Festivus for the rest of us? The ups and downs of festival season in Chicago.

Festival Season in Chicago: It was the best of times, it was the worst of times.

Now, everyone knows that Chicago is famous for their street festivals once summer rolls around. They are usually a lovely time. Minus a few minor (maybe major) details. Food, drinks, people watching? Some of my favorite things. These below are some of the ups and downs of festival season, in my humble opinion. I’ve compared them in a positive and negative fashion.

Positive: Lots of food vendors you may never try otherwise, especially when you don’t venture out of your neighborhood much. (Cough, ahem.)

Negative: Realizing that one taco you bought from fill in the blank trendy restaurant is no better than one which you could purchase at Burrito House #4524 . And this taco, will, in fact, cost you, $8. And no extra salsa. Total blasphemy.

Positive: Drink tents! Yay! Always love the drinks!

Negative: Pushing your way through 15 drunk girls in their best Anthroplogie sundresses to attempt to get an overpriced Miller Lite. (Sidenote: In the younger years, may have been said girl in sundress. Apologies.)

Positive: You get to meet up with friends in hopes of having a lovely time.

Negative: Since you have an iPhone, you’d be better off standing on a rooftop with a megaphone yelling out their name trying to find them since you have absolutely no service.

Positive: Great people watching. Always. It’s not every day you see a guy in jorts and a coral tank top with Ray Bans grooving to the beat….in his…mind.

Negative: Standing behind said guy in line for Port-o-Potty and he is too busy having the jam session in his head to see that THE LINE IS MOVING. MOVE UP.

Positive: (to piggyback on last thought) There are bathrooms available. Thank god. After drinking the overpriced Miller Lite this is a necessity.

Negative: Seeing a group of 4 girls go in to the stall you’re waiting for and waiting for 20 minutes. And, at this point, it’s way too late to change lines. It’s like the scene in Office Space where Peter Gibbons switches lanes in traffic six times only to be stuck in…more traffic.

Positive: It’s a beautiful, warm sunny day, tons of good music…perfect!

Negative: With the volatility of Chicago weather, this changes swiftly. You then wind up getting caught in a monsoon, breaking your flip flop in the 6 inches of mud you just stepped in, and wandering to the Walgreens on Congress and Michigan to buy a pair of tourist flip flops with “CHICAGO!” scribbled all over them just so you can wobble it home. Great purchase. I still wear them when I do laundry, by the way. They're really fetching.

Positive: Most of the fests are local, so it’s close by, and a nice change of scenery.

Negative: Waiting for the Division bus for 30 minutes to have a girl who, um, has probably been at the festival too long tell you “That bus stopped running 30 minutes ago.” You don’t believe her at first, but after standing for another 10 minutes, yeah. Let’s figure out other options. Walking? Rickshaw? Taking the blue line completely out of the way so you can get the hell out of dodge?

Positive: Running into a ton of people you know.

Negative: Running into a ton of people you know.

These are just a few of the upsides and downsides of fest season. Don’t get me wrong, I’ll still go to every single one I can. With a megaphone. And a bus schedule.

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  • Positive: Some were reflective of the neighborhoods. At one time the Andersonville festival was Swedish.

    Negative: After one has been in the city for a while (maybe 10 years), all the festivals are the same, except that some of the vendors have gone out of business. The most obvious is the decline of Taste of Chicago (do I really have to go there to get cheesecake on a stick?), but just having mentioned Midsomarfest, I see that the association states on its website that it was last weekend, but it sure didn't get the publicity it once did.

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    Amy Litterski

    Born and bred Chicagoan. 30-something. Married to this guy I met 14 years ago at a Northwest side block party. Have a dog. Never thought those words would be in a description about me. University of Illinois alum. I've loved to write since age 4. I have some samples, they are pretty impressive, I promise. I enjoy coffee and hot sauce too much.

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