‘Why force it?’ 2 upcoming Chicago street festivals cancel due to COVID-19


CHICAGO — Two upcoming festivals have been canceled as COVID-19 numbers continue to rise in Illinois.

After the Little Italy Festa on Taylor Street was canceled in 2020 because of the pandemic, organizers were gearing up for a comeback August 12-15. But organizers said they had to “follow their gut” and cancel.

“Making this decision is one of the hardest things we’ve ever had to do,” Ron Onesti said.

Onesti’s company produces the festival, which typically draws tens of thousands of people to Taylor Street to celebrate Italian food and culture.

After a meeting with members of the Little Italy Chicago Neighborhood Association, Onesti cited a number of issues.

“Like permits backlogged, unrest, who knows what’s going on with COVID and one of the biggest things, restaurants they can’t get help,” Onesti said.

Onesti said he wants to help businesses in the community, not hurt them.

“So we decided why force it? it for the greater good let’s just make sure everybody’s safe let’s just wait a year just felt like the right thing to do,” Onesti said.

Organizers of Hyde Park Summer Fest are also they’re canceling this year’s event, calling it a “difficult but the most responsible decision.”

Previously known as Brew Fest, the summer festival was being planned for Sept. 11-12.

“It is our obligation to prioritize our community’s health and safety over any other interests. With increasing COVID-19 cases and associated risks, we do not believe it is the right choice to move forward with the festival at this time,” organizers said.

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Organizers of both festivals are hoping to return in summer of 2022. 

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