Saturday, my wife and I headed up to Lincoln Square for Maifest. Last month, we had already attended the Lakeview Mayfest. But other than the location and the spelling, this Maifest was an entirely different event.
The first difference that we noticed at the Chicago Maifest was the amount of people. The Lakeview Mayfest is at a somewhat cumbersome location to get to. Plus, the weather for the Lakeview Mayfest wasn’t nearly as good. So, there was a ton of people.
The next diference that we noticed was this event was huge. There was a huge main tent, a smaller but still large second tent and two music stages. There was even an entire section of carnival games, which I’d never seen at any street fair before. The kids, of which there seemed to be tons at this street fair, seemed to be enjoying it.
This event was so big that they made you buy tickets to use at the beer and food vendors, a pratice that I generally only see at the big Chicago festivals, like Taste of Chicago or Bluesfest. Mercifully, the tickets were 1 per $1. I hate it when they’re 16 tickets for 20 bucks. I am rarely in the state of mind a a street fair to do the math to figure out how much a 5 ticket beer really costs.
At the Chicago Maifest with an I, beers were expensive. But they came in these awesome novelty plastic beers steins that were huge. Your options were domestic or imported beer. Large or small. My large PBR cost me 10 tickets. A refill was 8 tickets. I like it when they’re novelty drinkware at a street fair. It makes the whole thing more festive.
There was a lot of German food at this street fair. In fact, that was the only food option. No cheese fries or corn on the cob here. The first thing we ate was a pretzel. It was 2 tickets and really good. I love pretzels. I don’t know why we don’t have them everywhere in Chicago. Perfect with beer.
Inside the main tent, there were two huge beer stations, tons of tables and chairs for beer hall style drinking, and a main stage. There was a German music band playing, and Johnny Wagner, whose band we saw at Lakeview Mayfest, was on sax. This band played all the same drinking songs as Johnny Wagner’s did at Lakeview Mayfest. The songs were now much more fun to drink to since we were familiar with them.
At the food tents, things cost about 5-8 tickets, depending on what you got and whether you got it as a sandwich or as a dinner plate. We ordered a leberkaese sandwich and a bratwurst plate. The plate comes with sauerkraut and german potato salad.
Leberkaese is described as a German meatloaf. I think it looks like fois gras if fois gras were made out of elephant liver. It smells like dog food. And the texture is a lot like squishy canned ham. The first time I had leberkaese was at chriskindlmarket. Served in a wonderful little bun, this beefy german spam-like product is delicious. And just as good on a freezing winter day as it was on this hot summer one.
My wife ordered the bratwust. But she didn’t like it. The casing was really thick and provided a little too much snap to it, even for my taste. And the sausage itself was quite hammy, as if it really hadn’t been seasoned. It wasn’t what I normally think of when I think of bratwurst. It was like eating a uncured bacon sandwich, but it was a nice change of pace that tasted very authentic (although I admit that I have no idea what an authentic brat really tastes like).
The last thing we ate was triple chocolate cake from an Austrian Bakery which may actually be located a couple blocks from where I live. It was marvelous. Moist chocolate cake. chocolate mocha frosting. chocolate ganache frosting on top. A nice way to end our food foray through the Lincoln Square Maifest.