It’s June in the great city of Chicago, and that can only mean one thing: the German festival of Maifest. Wait, that can’t be right…
Maifest in Chicago
The winters are brutal in Chicago. And since every action has an equal and opposite reaction, you can find street festivals almost every weekend in the summer. Locals will take any chance they get to spend time outside, particularly with beer in hand. Every fest combines some level of beer, food, and music though there’s been a lot of complaints recently that corporate interests are ruining the individual identity of some festivals.
Maifest is unique in that it holds onto it’s German (specifically Bavarian) roots with a death grip. Put on by the Dank Haus, Maifest (which is held in June for reasons that I don’t quite know) is ostensibly another street party: they sell beer and sausages, live bands play drunken ballads like “Sweet Caroline”, and they set up carnival games for those who can’t/don’t want to drink. All round, the event is a good ol’ time for everyone.
That German Feel
Visitors dress up wearing Lederhosen, drinking Hofbräu, and eating smoked meats. There’s one band (not sure of their name) who plays every year. They play some polka, some rock songs, and some old German drinking songs.
I imagine at one point they gave out real beer steins, though those days are long gone (probably for cost as well as safety reasons). But they still give you a whopping quantity of beer.
When I say that people wore Lederhosen and traditional Bavarian dress, I’m not saying that some people did—a lot of people did. Prime example, about half of the people working the event dressed for the occasion. Unfortunately, this is one of the least conspicuous photos I could take:
Speaking of Food…
This isn’t my first year at Maifest (or the corresponding autumn celebration Oktoberfest). Every year, I forget about the food, and every year it stirs the deepest corners of my soul. Being from the midwest, my love of smoked pork comes from a different origin, but it’s a common bond I share with the German street fests. How can you not go nuts seeing a multitude of meat being cooked over open flame?
And in case you could still feel the blood moving in your arteries, how about two types of cake?
To make it a family event, there were carnival games set up. We didn’t play any of them because we spent our tickets on booze and cake, but it’s a nice family-friendly option. Though (and I’m only half joking when I say this), it’s mostly an excuse to eat meat and drink beer outdoors.
As a whole, if you come to Chicago in the warm months (as few as they are), street fests like Maifest are more than worth your time to explore. Grab a beer, a sausage, and talk to strangers. We’re all pretty nice here.
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