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Chinatown Summer Festival

August 8, 2010

It seems only appropriate that since I kick started my blog with a post from Chinatown that I re-invigorate it with another post from Chinatown.  It has been almost eight months since I have been able to write (mommy hood is hard work) and I will probably not be able to write as much now as I did before the advent of my daughter, but I am very excited to get back out there and continue exploring all that Chicago has to offer on the international scene.  And no other Chicago community that I have yet experienced does it as vibrantly and as uniquely as Chinatown.

While it was obvious that Moon Festival (from my first post) was meant just for the Chinese community it was just as obvious that Summer Fest is meant for everyone else.  And that means shopping!  Lots and lots of shopping!  Not just the normal Chicago festival arts, crafts, and knick knacks, but a whole host of other odds and ends as well.  You want arts?  Will this delightfully tacky optical illusion of two guitar players that can also be faces work for you?  You want crafts?  This woman will teach you how to fold a paper flower.  You want knick knacks?  The bobble… chested… anime figures should work out just fine.  By the way did you need a spare hard drive?  Or would you like to buy a roll of tape with that necklace?  It’s only a dollar.

And while we did spend most of our time shopping, that wasn’t all that was offered up for our entertainment.  At the far end of the street there was a play area for the kids that included blow up slides, a climbing wall, a Home Depot sponsored build-a-toolbox booth, and a petting zoo.  Of course the petting zoo was my favorite because who doesn’t like goats?  And they even had a llama (or maybe an Alpaca?).

For those that came for the culture – ahem, yes you, turn away from the goats and get down to business – there was a main stage with performances all day.  Summer Fest, it turns out, is not just for Chinese culture and there were several performances from other Asian countries.  From the Philippines there was a children’s orchestra playing music that my husband remembered from when he was kid.  The Indian Dance School did a mish mash of different Bollywood songs (one from a new favorite of mine, Aladdin with the great Amitabh Bachchan) and there was even some Shanghai Hip Hop in the evening.  There was off continent entertainment as well, with some Brazilian Samba dancers.

My favorite discovery, though, came as we were headed out and my sister pulled us onto a side street to watch a young woman singing with a backup band.  She turned out to be performing right in front of St. Therese Cathedral, which was open to the public for the festival.  Having been to Chinatown many times and not realizing this little gem was there I was excited to get the opportunity to wander around.  It is not a big place, but both the cathedral and the meditation garden to the side are very beautiful.  I love the combination of Western Catholic imagery with the Asian flair.  More pictures are available on the link to Flickr.

And just to round out my new beginning with a first, I have put together a short little video of some of the things that we saw while at the festival.  It  is by no means professional, but I will keep working to add more content to the posts I put together.  Until next time!

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