Festivals, Summer in Chicago

Street Fest Donations: They’re suggested, not expected!

Summer time in Chicago is synonymous with street festivals. Every weekend there is at least one block party, art fair or street festival, often more. Some are free though many charge a suggested donation that can range anywhere from a few dollars to twenty bucks. Frankly, these suggested donations are getting carried away, especially as they go from suggested to expected.

I get that there are costs associated with putting on a street fest, I really do. It probably isn’t cheap and costs can only have gone up over the years. Since no one is forcing me to attend these fests, I don’t mind shelling out a few bucks to help offset those costs. And where I am at today financially speaking, I can certainly afford the entry fee at most street fests.


Which fest is this again? Doesn’t matter dude, as long as we play the same songs in a different order

At the same time, I don’t want to pay a crapload of cash for access to a public city street and the privilege of being crowded into a two-block radius smashed against people, many who haven’t showered in ages, underneath a blazing sun.

For the record, I’m not singling out a specific festival and the smaller festivals that rent out a parking lot can charge whatever they want. But those that use public streets or even a park, those are the ones who really are pushing the envelope with the Expected/Suggested Donation thing.

Over the years I’ve seen this happen at various fests. From the person working the door looking down on you because you are not contributing the full amount to the strong arm rent-a-cop who ever so slightly flexes his muscles if you even question the suggested donation”. It truly makes me wonder if the money really is going to a good cause.

I think the worst is when they don’t even bother using the words donation or suggested. I mean seriously, you’re offering me the opportunity to watch drunk people grind up on pick up each other up while swaying to a cover band that plays the same set at every fest.

Think about this: If someone spends all their money just getting into a street fest, they aren’t gonna have much left over for the overpriced beer and half cooked food, to say nothing of patronizing the non-consumable vendors. That guy with the surf board photo booth or the climbing rock are gonna go home with less money in their pockets if the door people take all of mine.


For the last time, I don’t want to enter your raffle!

And question for the people who work the door and are so adamant about getting the full “suggested” entry fee? Do you get a cut of the pie? Or is it money out of your pocket in some way?

To me it doesn’t seem worth it. In the hot summer it just takes one nutjob who feels the world owes him something and the next guy who wrongs him in any way is gonna pay. So maybe you feel invincible working that booth with the rent-a-cop next to you, or you are the musclehead who can beat up most people in a fair fight without working up a sweat.  The thing is, the nutjob probably isn’t gonna give you much opportunity for a fair fight.  Is an extra couple of dollars really worth it?

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