Chicago’s newest street festival has just come to an end.
It’s been less than 24 hours since the final Sundays on State event ended, and I’m already feeling a little bit of regret about it being over.
It was absolutely amazing to have had the opportunity to meet so many new people, live through so many experiences, and taste the myriad small businesses who are the beating heart of Chicago’s community.
And now it’s time to relive the magic and tell you about Sundays on State - the massive open-air street festival that made for a magical summer 2021 in Chicago.
When we first heard of it
As early as late March this year, news reports like this one…
Image taken from the wttw website.
...started appearing, announcing that the Look Alliance was considering a mega open-air event in and around State Street throughout summer.
That’s a screengrab from the wttw website, by the way.
Around mid-June, ads and announcements like this one by the Gene Siskel Film Center began popping up all around.
Intrigued by the news reports and social media posts, we started visiting the Loop Alliance website, where we saw the new Sundays on State webpage.
That’s when we knew we were in for a treat!
The lineup for the very first Sundays on State - the July 11th event - was announced around late June.
Image taken from the abc7.chicago website.
That’s a screengrab from an ABC 7 Eyewitness News report titled “Chicago Loop Alliance holding free 'Sundays on State' events this summer”, dated June 25th.
How they described it
Loop Alliance President and CEO Michael Edwards billed the event as…
“...State Street like you've never experienced it before.”
Kiana DiStasi, the Alliance’s marketing director, said that the event was a chance for Chicagoans to…
“bring their own lawn chairs and blankets, and just chill out on the street during the day.”
Mayor Lightfoot said that it would help in…
“bringing together people from near and far to enjoy not only our dining scene, but active recreation, art, culture, music, shopping and more,”
And the CLA website had this to say:
Chicago’s most iconic street, State Street, closes to traffic from Lake to Madison on select Sundays this summer and transforms into an open street full of surprises.
How it worked
All told, there were eight Sundays on State events:
On those Sundays, State Street was blocked to vehicles from Lake to Madison.
There were three main performance areas - Lake and Randolph, State and Washington, and Washington and Madison…
For larger performances by bands and dance troupes and exhibitions like a Bikram Yoga class, a CircEsteem show, and a wrestling performance.
The very first Sundays on State - July 11th
It got off to a roaring start on July 11th, with as many as sixteen large-scale performances, including…
Music by Sweet Kay Bluegrass, the South Side Jazz Coalition, and Chicago’s Chorus Girl Project.
A paint the city event
A presentation by Porchlight Music Theatre, and
Apart from that there were over seventy activations from well-known Chicago institutions including the Writer’s Museum, the Gene Siskel Film Center and the Illinois Science Council.
It was raining, but that hardly dampened the excitement…
Seven more were to follow, over the next two months, and each time it was just as exciting.
My thoughts on Sundays On State
In short, itt was absolutely mind blowing!
OK, let’s break that down.
First of all, it was spread over eight Sundays, across three months from July to September.
Keeping things fresh over such a long time can prove challenging.
The Loop Alliance put in a lot of effort at creating unique experiences, giving us something to look forward to each weekend.
And of course, kudos to Chicagoans - business owners, entrepreneurs and attendees alike - for turning up with such enthusiasm.
Logistics was an issue too, as they had to ensure that homes and existing businesses within the stretch would have access by vehicle while the festivities took place.
They pulled it off perfectly by keeping east-west streets within the program area open.
People were allowed to carry their own seating, bring strollers and even (well-behaved) pets…
...which really gave it a picnic atmosphere.
Sundays on State has been a particularly great opportunity for Chicagoans to come together and support each other as we look to reopen and recover from annus horibilis 2020.
The final word - are you happy with Sundays on State being over?
Well, are you?
Would you like to experience it again next year?
Vote on our Twitter poll and/or our Facebook poll, and let us know what you think!
Banner image courtesy of Tim Gouw on Unsplash.