End of Summer Edition: A Hit List of Must-See Summer End Events and Festivals

End of Summer: A Hit List of Summer End Events & Festivals

By: Kai EL Zabar and Mary L. Datcher
Chicago’s summers of daily events are often memorable, each event leaving people hungry for the next, and as the last days of summer near, Chicago gears up with Labor Day weekend. The Chicago Defender took a look at what’s coming up and what events should head the top of your list as you close out your summer festivities and prepare for winter.
Starting with Labor Day weekend, you can look forward to:

Howard Hewett headlines the African Heritage Festival in Washington Park on September 5.
Howard Hewett headlines the African Heritage Festival in Washington Park on September 5.

The African Festival of the Arts marks off 28 years the Labor Day weekend, Sept. 2-5, and has earned a reputation as one of Chicago’s favorite festivals and a national destination point for those seeking to immerse themselves in the African culture. It has been noted as drawing more than a quarter of a million people over the Labor Day weekend, and is now considered to be the single largest African-centered event in the USA and the most impactful of its kind in Chicago. African Festival of the Arts is the flagship program of the Africa International House (AIH). During its 28-year history, this four-day event has promoted, preserved and propagated African-American culture. This year the AFA announced national favorites Rose Royce and Howard Hewett to headline a “togetherness” celebration, and will perform Monday evening.
These headliners are just one element of the renowned festival that offers a glimpse into the many unique treasures of the African Continent, including African-centered offerings from across the globe.
The AFA festive ambience is created via a series of festivals within a festival built around African culture: art, music, dance, history and current interests and pursuits. The festival provides exciting, stimulating experiences through the fine arts of visual, dance, music, textiles, to the more pedestrian arts of fashion and jewelry design, pottery, cards, and so much more. The sensation of scent, vibration and movement is constant and intrigues the senses. The visitor’s first rush of sights, sounds and sweet and savory smells are almost overwhelming. The senses can barely take it all in. The event site spans more than 12 acres, and each one of them is jam-packed with cultural entertainment, education, shopping, food, drink and fun, including:

  • A Fine Arts Pavilion where more than $1 million in art sales are exchanged.
  • An African Market.
•A Drum Village.
•Three entertainment stages. •National music headliners.
  • Sponsorable pavilions that focus on African Heritage, literature, automotive, family and children, technology, spirituality, business/ finance, green/energy, wellness/ fitness, dance, education, film, fashion and others.
  • An international food court.

Friday night will be Chicago Dance Night, featuring tunes chosen especially for Chicago steppers; Saturday night is Juju Night with Nigerian Musician Chief Commander Ebenezer Obey. Sunday will feature singer/composer Dee Alexander, the festival’s Dee Parmer Woodtor Stage guest curator and the Evolution Ensemble.
Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the gate. There are discounts for seniors, as well as four-day and VIP passes. Children under five are free. Learn more by visiting www.aihusa.org and clicking on African Festival.
The Community Peace Surge is a weekend of opportunity, Sept. 2-5, coordinated by the Black Star Project and Justice or Else: Chicago. The Community Peace Surge is four days of activities to help transformation of communities. Activities include: 1) Helping to make our communities safe, walkable spaces by being on the streets of our communities this weekend as we transform the spirits of our youth with our outreach, our love and our conversation. 2) Help us to physically clean and green our communities on Saturday morning, Sept. 3, for the Red, Black, Clean and Green. 3) Help us engage youth and families with block parties, picnics, athletic activities, reading activities, cookouts, talent shows, parenting activities, block club-building activities and more.
Please visit communitypeacesurge.org or call 312.610.7787 for more information.
Labor Day weekend also is the National Media Launch for The Great Migration Centennial. Our theme is “Creating A New Promise!” (see Community Calendar, page 14.)
Also Labor Day Holiday weekend, the Chicago Jazz Festival produced by the Department of

Orbert Davis performs at the Chicago International Jazz Festival.
Orbert Davis performs at the Chicago International Jazz Festival.

Cultural Affairs & Special Events and programmed by the Jazz Institute of Chicago is a favorite LDH tradition. Known for its spectrum of artists from the classic mainstream, to smooth jazz, to progressive to the avant-garde jazz musicians, it promotes awareness and appreciation for all forms of jazz through showcasing free, quality live music performances. The festival has presented Chicago’s best talent alongside national and international artists at Grant Park and now Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park since 1979 outdoors under blue skies. Orbert Davis, described as one of Chicago’s “most admired jazz artists” by Howard Reich of the Chicago Tribune, was also named by Chicago Magazine as “Y2k Best Trumpeter in Chicago” and Chicagoan of the Year for 2002.
In September 2011, Davis was named Artist-In-Residence for the Chicago Jazz Festival, an honor held by only one other Chicagoan in its history. You can catch him on Fridays on WDCB 90. FM, hosting The Real Deal, featuring straight-ahead jazz. Davis kicks off the Chicago Jazz Festival Thursday, Sept. 1, followed on Friday by Oliver Lake and Charlie Haden’s Liberation Orchestra. Saturday features The Bad Plus the Anat Cohen Quartet and many more. Sunday close out the festival with Candido’s 95th Birthday Celebration. Seating is limited; however, you can bring your own lawn chairs and blankets. Performances will take place at Chicago Cultural Center, 78 E. Washington St., and Millennium Park, at 201 E. Randolph St., between Michigan
& Columbus Ave. For schedule details see https://www.cityofchica- go.org/city/en/depts/dca/supp_ info/chicago_jazz_festival.html/, and for information regarding parking go to www.millenniumgarages. com.
hbcucubsday16The week is full, beginning with the Historical Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) game at Wrigley Field when thousands of alums of HBCUs congregate to meet, greet and network at the Cubs vs. Giants game Friday, Sept. 2, in association with the 19th Annual Chicago Football Classic. If you’re not an HBCU alum, come support their foundation and meet some of our nation’s best. It will be a fun day for all.
Music by Mark Flava at the Pre-Game Kick-offParty:11a.m.-1 p.m. Hosted by Julian Green, Alabama A&M University Alum Game time: 1:20 pm. Ticket prices start at $20 plus tax (includes HBCU T-Shirt) For tickets go to Cubs. com/HBCUDAY.
If you want to start the day on a high note, you can rise early and join the 33rd Annual UNCF Walk (Run Bike, Skate) for Education fundraiser at 8 a.m. If you believe that a mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in you should participate, inspire and empower our young people to secure their passports to opportunity – a college degree.
If you want to start the day on a high note, you can rise early and join the 33rd Annual UNCF Walk (Run Bike, Skate) for Education fundraiser at 8 a.m. If you believe that a mind is a terrible thing to waste but a wonderful thing to invest in you should participate, inspire and empower our young people to secure their passports to opportunity – a college degree.
On-site registration is $40 for adults, $15 for children 12 and under. Preregistration on or before Friday, Sept. 2, is $35 for adults. You may sign up and/or obtain information by contacting the UNCF Chicago office by phone at (312) 845-2200, on the web at UNCF. org/ChicagoWalk or at the office located at 105 W. Adams Street, Suite 2400, Chicago, Illinois 60603 (Entranceat 210 S. Clark St). Walk day, festivities begin promptly at 8 a.m.; Race/Walk begins at 9 a.m. and ends at 2 p.m. in time for you to go to the Chicago Football Classic. Make a full day out of giving back to Black education.
Other Labor Day hit picks:
North Coast Music Festival
Union Park
September 2 -4
A collage of Indie Rock, Electronica Dance, House Music and Hip Hop take over the near West Side for three days of festival fun. From the silent disco parties bringing millennials together to enjoy music through headphones within a few feet of their favorite live bands — without missing a beat.
The festival highlights include Jamila Woods and DJ sets by Wayne Williams, Alan King, Gant Man, Farley Jackmaster Funk and CZ Boogie.
For more information on the schedule, line-up and ticket purchase: www.northcoastfestival.com
Hip Hop Summer Fest
Adams/Medill Park
September 9-11
hiphopsummerfestpicIt is the first festival for the entire family and HHSF organizers have set their sights on Chicago’s south loop area Addams/Medill Park for a jam-packed weekend of some of the best Hip Hop artists and DJs in the game. Taking a trip down memory lane, HHSF will feature Hip Hop legendary artists Doug E. Fresh, Big Daddy Kane, Dana Dane, Slick Rick and some of their other colleagues. Top talent from the Chicago area includes some familiar names: Twista, Do or Die, Crucial Conflict, K Valentine, Chella H. and Lil Durk along with over 100 acts that will perform and spin in peace and unity throughout the weekend.
For a complete list of artists visit www.HipHopSummerFest.com.
The 19th Annual Chicago Football Classic takes over on Saturday, Sept. 10, at Soldier Field at 3:30 p.m., where the Clark Atlanta University Panthers will encounter the Central State Marauders in this Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference (MEAC) battle, bringing together Blacks and whites alike who love a good game, phenomenal entertainment, great people, and the opportunity to contribute to a significant cause.
The Chicago Football Classic is such a wonderful opportunity for families to support their alma maters and introduce youth to the HBCU world. Though just a glimpse of a small fraction of what the HBCU experience is, all those in attendance, especially outsiders, recognize the phenomenon of camaraderie and shared common threads that connect them all. As a first-time spectator, Sheila Donaldson said, “I didn’t get it at first because I didn’t go to a HBCU college, but once I went to the Bayou Classic, I was hooked, and now the Chicago Football Classic has the same elements of connectedness. It’s like a huge family gone off to lead their individual lives come together for a family reunion, and it’s just beautiful to see and feel apart of what HBCUs represent. They educate and prepare our people for their place in a world that doesn’t necessarily reserve a place for them.”
So the Classic Chicago Football Classic is the place to be in the stands rooting for your team, networking, enjoying the halftime entertainment, sharing the experience with friends and family. In fact, make it a family affair or take a date. Tickets are $17, $25, $35 & $45. You can purchase them at Riteway Huggins Construction 773.734.1600, Midway Wholesalers 773.874.8000, www.Chicago- footballclassic.biz or at Walgreens. Rumor has it that the South Shore Drill team will perform . . . That you don’t want to miss.
Riot Fest
Douglas Park
September 16-18
Returning to Douglas Park for the third year, the Riot Fest takes over for a marathon of musical bliss as the park grounds are transformed between multiple stages and carnival tents. The three-day festival brings thousands to Lawndale to enjoy the food, music and festivities, but also provide hundreds of West Side residents with jobs for the weekend.
On Saturday, get your Wu-tang Clan fix with performances by Gza, Method Man & Redman along with Hip Hop God, NAS, shutting down the park. Check Riotfest.org for a full schedule.
ColoringBookartwookChance the Rapper Magnificent Coloring Day
U.S. Cellular Field
Sept. 24
One of the highlights to the end of summer concerts happens to take place on a baseball field in the heart of the South Side. Not since The Beatles has a major live music concert taken over the beautiful manicured lawns at White Sox park with such heightened anticipation.
The announcement of Chance the Rapper’s Magnificent Coloring Day music festival sold out in minutes — beating out The Beat- les tickets sales at the iconic park, but since that was Aug., 20, 1965, tickets were sold for $2.50-$5.50.
Being held on Saturday, Sept. 24, the diverse line-up gives music lovers a taste of everything featuring Skrillex, John Legend, 2Chainz, Taylor the Creator, Young Thug, Lil Uzi Vert, Alicia Keys, Lil Wayne and a special surprise guest.
The 23-year old Chance has raised the bar in bringing together a stellar line-up, setting the stage for one of the most anticipated music festivals to share the wrap-up to Chicago’s non-stop summertime guide.
Chance the Rapper presents sold out Magnificent Coloring Day Music Fest at U.S. Cellular Field September 24.
Chance the Rapper presents sold out Magnificent Coloring Day Music Fest at U.S. Cellular Field September 24.

It wasn’t an easy task, according to the Illinois Sports Facilities Authority CEO Lou Bertuca, who oversaw the deal and walked through every issue and concern with the venue’s most important tenant — the White Sox franchise. But he feels the event will bring more to the community and change the perception of the negative stigma of the city.
“The South Side is a lot more than just violence, and I am happy to be involved in changing that negative perception. We are proud to be known as The People’s Park, and we are here to serve the community,” he said.
With Chicago becoming center stage for some of the nation’s biggest outdoor music events such as
Spring Awakening, Lollapalooza, Pitchfork, North Coast and Riot Music Festival, it’s no surprise that ISFA understands the perspective another form of profits for the ballpark.
Out of the artists on the Magnificent Coloring Day tour, Chance is the biggest independent Hip Hop artist not signed with a major record company. His brother, Taylor the Creator, is not far behind, building his own unique following. He is expected to do just as well as his big brother. Fans are excited to hear new music from Alicia Keys, who is dropping her sixth studio album, Timeless, to be released later this year.
Wearing several hats, John Legend is the executive producer for the film Southside With You the romantic account of President Barack Obama and Michelle Obama’s first date. Legend also wrote the musical score for the film and released a new song, “Start,” for the film’s soundtrack.
Expect to see some collabos throughout the show with artists having songs out and on the charts from Skrillex and Rick Ross on the Suicide Squad soundtrack as well as Young Thug’s new mixtape, No, My Name is Jeffrey, inspired by rap idol and Chicago native Kanye West.
This music festival is sure to show many colors beyond the crayon box, while creating some unique ones along the way.
Common presents Aahh Fest! September 24-25 in Union Park.
Common presents Aahh Fest! September 24-25 in Union Park.

Aahh Fest!
Union Park
Sept. 24 & 25
Across town, rap royalty Common takes over Union Park with his 2nd Annual Aahh Fest on Sept. 24 and 25. The Aahh Fest! kicked off in 2014 with a killer line-up hosted by Dave Chappelle, which featured Chicagoans Jennifer Hudson and Kanye West.
Skipping last year, the music festival returns to bring attendees another wonderful concert to benefit programming for non-profit organizations, Donda’s House and Common Ground Foundation.
Community Day takes place on Saturday, which is curated by Grammy award-winning songwriter Rhymefest “Che” Smith and Donda’s House, with performances by young Chicago artists, poets and dancers throughout the afternoon, including Tink and Taylor Bennett, aka Taylor the Creator.
The following day on Sunday, attendees will be treated to a concert featuring national recording artists and familiar names to rock out the park.
Hosted by comedian/actor and fellow South Side native Deon Cole (Blackish), the Aahh Fest is sure to give music lovers a dose of Soul, Hip Hop and Funk.
The Roots join Common at Aahh Fest! on September 25 at Union Park.
The Roots join Common at Aahh Fest! on September 25 at Union Park.

The line-up includes The Internet, Sir the Baptist, Bilal and Philly’s favorite sons, The Roots.
A reported 4,000 tickets were purchased through Groupon this Spring without an official line-up released.
The multiple award-winning artist/actor will not wrap up the busy weekend without a bang, so expect more awesome artists to be added. With a new album project being released, Common will surely perform his new songs as well as a plethora of hits for fans.For more information on the Aahh Fest!: www.aahhfest.org
No doubt, all eyes will be on Chicago, and thanks to Chance the Rapper and Common, more bodies will rock than drop through music, peace and unity.
Follow Mary L. Datcher on Twitter


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