Summer festival likely ending

By JEFFREY BISHKU-AYKUL
Staff Writer

The popular summer festival that is part of the Celebrate Hyde Park series will very likely be cancelled this year, according to Wallace Goode, executive of the Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce.

At least one of the other two Celebrate Hyde Park festivals will take place this year, he said.

The chamber is one of several organizations that comprise the Celebrate Hyde Park’s sponsor, the Hyde Park Vitality Committee, which also includes the South East Chicago Commission (SECC) and the U. of C. Office of Civic Engagement.

Goode said Celebrate Hyde Park Oktoberfest was in the works and that a winter festival was under consideration. But he called a Celebrate Hyde Park summer festival unlikely, mentioning that there has been no planning yet for the event.

“It takes 9 months to a year to plan a festival of that magnitude,” Goode said.

Goode also said that the Hyde Park Vitality Committee was in the process of creating a new campaign that would highlight neighborhood events throughout the year.

“The Vitality Committee has thought of multiple ways to bring awareness to Hyde Park,” Goode said. “So the summer music festival was just one of many.”

Goode said various names for the new campaign were being considered — including Discover Hyde Park: “We’re thinking of a way to advertise the plethora of things going on in Hyde Park.”

Goode’s comments come after a report from one prospective vendor last month and another last week that they were told that Celebrate Hyde Park’s summer festival would not be taking place when they asked about working the event.

Although Wendy Walker Williams, executive director of the SECC, did not say the festival was cancelled, she said in an e-mail that the organization was “shifting [its] focus to ways to promote year round events in ALL of the SECC Communities,” and that it would be “revealing a new brand.”

Williams said via e-mail last week that the SECC would add a new section to its website meant to promote the neighborhood, entitled “Discover Hyde Park.” Williams said it was “in no way intended to be a replacement for the Celebrate Hyde Park series and brand.”

But Calmetta Coleman, director of communications for the U. of C.’s Office of Civic Engagement, added that the goal of the Celebrate Hyde Park series — which was founded in 2010 — was to remind people that small businesses were open during the construction of Harper Court.

“Now that much of that construction is complete, we will look at other ways we can support 53rd Street businesses,” she said, including UChicago Local, a recently launched initiative that provides mid-South Side businesses with training and links to the university and its medical center.

Photo: The Beatles tribute band American English performs on 53rd Street during Celebrate Hyde Park in 2011. Photo by Marc Monaghan.

j.bishku@hpherald.com