Lakeview Mayfest is traditionally known as the official start to the Chicago street fair season. My wife and I have been regularly attending this street fair for years. And this year, even a 70% chance of strong thunderstorms couldn’t keep us away.
The Lakeview Mayfest has a big tent, which provides a welcome outside drinking haven when the weather is cold. This year, they had tables and chairs inside. It was like a big ol drinking hall. It reminded me of octoberfest, in a foreshadowy kind of way.
This year, they stepped up the beer tables too. They had two flat screens connected to direct tv. Later on in the evening, the TVs were playing the Bulls vs Heat game. I wonder if they had express written permission from the NBA. After all, they were charging admission to the street fair. $10 per person, which my and I both agreed was rather steep.
The first thing my wife and I do when we get to a street fair is walk around. I want to know what all my food options are before I start laying down my wife’s hard earned cash. This year, all the vendors had uniform style signage.
After walking around to check out the lay of the land, my wife and I started with some corn on the cob. It’s one of my favorite street fair foods. They’re cooked on the grill in the husk, then they peel back the husk, and dip it in a vat of melted butter. I know. A vat! It’s pure heaven.
After that, my wife and I got some beers. At this particular beer table, they were also selling big pretzels for a dollar. I thought this was odd. We went inside the big tent and sat at a table. Then, a German polka band started playing. And the pretzel suddenly made a lot more sense.
After listening to a couple of songs by the talented Johnny Wagner band, I got myself a pretzel. That, with the beer and the music, was nice. It was like the Octoberfest I went to last year, but not-crowded full of drunk Gold Coasters who were spilling beers on me and calling me “brah.” Instead, the crowd was a great one, following along politely to the audience-interaction portions of the polka band’s act. And it was full of parents and dog owners. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a street fair with so many children there. I notice these things, now that most of my friends have children or are expecting.
Later on, after a couple of yodelling songs, the Johnny Wagner band played a cover of an Elvis song that was superb in a German precision sense of the word. And then I saw the hipster-iest couple ever. The kid was wearing vans, capri pants, and a hipster plaid short sleeve button up shirt. The dad was wearing Reebok Pumps (Blacktop edition) and had tape on his glasses that may or may not have been functional. The mom was wearing cowboy boots and a short, home-made sun dress that was seemingly designed to show off her multiple tattoos. I am not making that up. I wanted to slap them all, except for the kid, of course. He looked dope. I mean, he was like four.
Next, I ate cheese fries. Because that is what one does at a street fair. The fries are as blazing hot as they are mediocre. And the cheese comes from a can. If I’m at a street fair, I’m going to be eating these at some point. Wonderful.
Several beers later, we were hungry for more. Something else new this year was this towable food cart. It has its own license plate and a tow rig. They served up sweet and savory crepes, my two favorite kinds. It was like a mini food truck, but it wasn’t urging me to follow it on Twitter.
My wife and I fell in love with crepes while drunk out of our minds on cheapo wine in the Latin Quarter in Paris. There, we found a little hole in the wall that served cheesy mushroom crepes with the best fries ever. The crepe shack here wasn’t nearly as good, but we weren’t nearly as blasted.
We got a sweet crepe because my wife loves nutella. The crepe was nice and buckwheaty. The raspberries tasted remarkably fresh. The only downside was that there didn’t seem to be enough nutella. But it was still quite good. And much better than I was expecting based on the appearance the college kids running the place.
The music headliners that Sunday were Mike and Joe, cover banders extraordinaire. They are what every street fair needs to close out the evening. They’re loud, they’re fun, and they play songs I know the words to, even when I can’t remember which direction my house is from here. They were playing two sets, but we left after the first. And we had perfect timing. The thunderstorms finally started to let loose the moment we got home.