The Northalsted Business Alliance continued its annual tradition of presenting the largest outdoor street festival in the Midwest on Aug. 11 and 12. Northalsted Market Days had the bustling Boystown area from Addison Street to Belmont Avenue blocked off while adding four stages and unique vendor booths along the main drag on Halsted Street.
The weather was clear with temperatures rising to over 80 degrees on both Saturday and Sunday. A $10 suggested donation was requested upon entering the festival and bag checks were again part of the security measures this year.
There was plenty to see and do during the two days, with DJs spinning in various areas, drag performers lip synching for their lives in the hot sun and g- go boys shaking their money makers to remixed tunes.
Official Northalsted Market Days merchandise was for sale, with exclusive t-shirts and fans offered at the booth on Halsted and Cornelia. The snapping and popping of the fans left some folks some irritated.
Fashion trends this year included wearing tall socks and sporting bare midriffs with crop tops. A whole rainbow of body types and styles strutted down the packed streets with numbers reaching around 200,000 people.
Among some of the big sponsors for Market Days were Nissan, who held a dance contest on the Roscoe Stage, and Monkey Shoulder Whiskey, who offered small samples. Among many vendors serving food were the L.A.-based Pink Taco and nearby pizza place Lark.
Just south of the Addison Street gate, a six-foot by 23-foot wooden sculpture with the cursive writing #amazingforall was presented by Illinois Office of Tourism and creative artist Matthew Hoffman, known for his You Are Beautiful campaign. The piece is planned to be permanently installed on Halsted Street in the future.
Musicians over the two days included house music divas Crystal Waters and Ultra Nate. Two American Idol alumni Kimberley Locke and Trenyce were there to show their vocal range on the Bud Light North Stage as well. Trenyce said backstage that she has always had a loving relationship with the LGBT community and sang several Whitney Houston hits during her set.
Expose passed the "Point of No Return" to the delight of longtime listeners, Martha Wash sang to men with no rain and out country singer Ty Herndon added variety to the mix of music genres.
There were huge crowds for RuPaul's Drag Race choreographer Todrick Hall and Australian pop singer Betty Who at the stage near Addison. The parking lot of 7-Eleven was packed with fans at the Roscoe Stage for dance chart hitmaker Kristine W and for local cover band 16 Candles.
Singer MAX teamed up with Ryan Siegel of Party Pupils to expend the last of the energy left from party people and close down the busy weekend. The "Lights Down Low" crooner climbed out into the young crowd at the darkly-lit, Bud Light-sponsored stage to screams of delight.
In 2019, the festival will celebrate its 38th year. For more information, visit Northalsted.com .