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Lollapalooza: Food, art complement the music at Chicago fest

The 25th annual Lollapalooza music festival is expected to draw more than 400,000 people over the four-day weekend. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times

In between this weekend’s Lollapalooza’s lengthy lineup of more than 170 musical acts, festival-goers can chow down at Chow Town and shop ‘til they drop at the four-day weekend’s Art Market.

In its 25th year, the music festival typically draws 100,000 visitors per day to Chicago’s Grant Park, where eight stages will be blasting rock, electronic, folk music and more today through Sunday. But music is not the only draw.

Head to the center of the park, near Buckingham Fountain, to the Art Market, a plethora of tents featuring local vendors like Futurgarb, a clothing and accessory company, and Souldier, which makes accessories out of recycled goods. The fest also welcomes national vendors like North Carolina jewelry designer Black Black Moon and Rhode Island jewelry giant Alex and Ani, which is selling (both at the fest site and online) a special Lollapalooza charm for its popular bangle bracelets.

Kristin Eberts and Danny Vetter work at Teysha, a custom, sustainable boot and accessory company based in Austin, Texas. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times
Kristin Eberts and Danny Vetter work at Teysha, a custom, sustainable boot and accessory company based in Austin, Texas. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times

Danny Vetter, 26, and his girlfriend Kristin Eberts, 26, have spent more than a year working for Teysha, a Texas-based company that sells boots and accessories handmade in Guatemala and other areas throughout the Americas.

“We met the owner, Travis Breihan, on a public bus in Panama,” Eberts said. “We had this mutual love of indigenous art, people and cultures.”

“We work with Guatemalan artisans and textile workers to support and tap into these vibrant and colorful communities,” Vetter added, noting that “Teysha” means “ally” in the Native American Caddo language. While this is Teysha’s first year exhibiting at Lollapalooza, the company has appeared at other music festivals this year, including Tennessee’s Bonaroo, Texas’ Euphoria and the New Orleans Jazz Fest.

Henna tatoos, like this one sported by Madison Muradyan, are among the offerings at the Thread Away booth in the Lollapalooza Art Market area of the festival. | TALIA BEECHICK/FOR THE SUN-TIMES
Henna tatoos, like this one sported by Madison Muradyan, are among the offerings at the Thread Away booth in the Lollapalooza Art Market area of the festival. | TALIA BEECHICK/FOR THE SUN-TIMES

Chicago’s threading and henna salon Thread Away, however, knows what to expect this weekend after debuting its temporary henna designs at Lollapalooza last year.

“It was crazy,” said henna artist Harjit Randhawa, who learned how to apply henna in India and has worked at Thread Away for five years. “There was a line all the way out the tent. We had to work very fast.”

Thread Away offers varying sized henna designs in the standard shade of brown, which lasts 10 days, or white, which lasts one day, and can add jewels to the designs as well. But to survive the weekend’s heat and long hours, visitors will need to stay fed and hydrated.

Lollapalooza features more than 30 food vendors located in the fest’s “Chow Town” stretching south on Columbus through Grant Park. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times
Lollapalooza features more than 30 food vendors located in the fest’s “Chow Town” stretching south on Columbus through Grant Park. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times

The festival’s Chow Town, stretching down South Columbus Drive through the park’s center, features local vendors ranging from Billy Goat Tavern to Kamehachi to Robinson’s No. 1 Ribs who dished out crowd favorites to hungry visitors Thursday afternoon.

“It’s fun, hard and exhausting,” said Michael Scavo, 20, who has worked at Billy Goat Tavern’s Lollapalooza tent for the past four years. “From 2 to 9 p.m. we are slammed with a huge crowd. A lot of drunk people, yelling people, five people handing you credit cards at once… it goes by fast. You got to keep control.”

New this year are the festival’s Bodegas — one-stop shops for quick snacks like granola bars and fruit as well as “survival goods” such as band aids, ponchos and sunscreen sprinkled throughout the park.

Jacole Avent, 20, and Juliet Barber, 16, participated in a short orientation to work at Bella Bacino’s pizza tent for the first time at Lollapalooza.

“We were told what to expect, what to wear, how to handle the heat, etc,” Barber said. “We are offering little pizza cups that we bring to all the events we do.”

Lollapalooza runs 11 a.m.-10 p.m. July 28-31 at Grant Park (337 E. Randolph). General admission tickets are sold out; VIP tickets (beginning at $650 per day) are available at Lollapalooza.com.

A sea of fans began their weekend at Perry’s Tent seeing The Noisy Freaks perform Thursday afternoon. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times
A sea of fans began their weekend at Perry’s Tent seeing The Noisy Freaks perform Thursday afternoon. | Talia Beechick/For the Sun-Times