Downtown Hyde Park exploded over the weekend with bumping music, dancing people and plenty of cold beers as the 6th annual Hyde Park Brew Fest took place.
Smoke swirled around Darryl Perkins as his hands moved to flip dozens of turkey legs on the grill. As music pulsed from a set of speakers across the street, his arms seemed to dance to the beat with a conductor’s grace.
His face was a road map of determination and focus.
After all, he had orders to fill…and with the thousands of people turning out for Hyde Park Brew Fest, his work wasn’t getting done anytime soon.
As he paused for a moment to talk to the Defender, he looked around and took in the sunny blue skies over Chicago’s Southside.
“Beautiful, beautiful,” Perkins said. “God has blessed it to be a great day.”
Indeed, the sun and cooler weather prevailed on the second day of the event after rain and hail ended the festival early the evening before — not that it put a damper on attendance numbers. Now in its sixth year, the Hyde Park Brew Fest saw an estimated 50,000 people turn out for the annual festival in downtown Hyde Park. The festival offered attendees 50 different beer samplings as well as food and fare from more than 100 vendors.
Among them was Perkins who was working for Premier Caterers. Though it was just his second year working at the festival, he told the Defender that he has been very happy with the annual event.
“I love it because it’s peaceful,” Perkins said. “Everybody getting along with everybody. Everybody smiling [at] everybody. I haven’t seen anybody mad at each other at all. It’s been the best two days out of the whole year so far.”
Accompanying the vendors were a lineup of hip-hop artists, singers and DJs, including DJ Mars, Mad Skillz, DJ Clark Kent, Biz Markie and Terry Hunter accompanied by Estelle, Chantay, Byron Stingley and Terisa Griffin.
Hosting the artists was Brew Fest founder Jonathan Swain. Though trained as a lawyer with experience in community development nonprofit work, Swain got his start in event planning after he joined his family’s business, Kimbark Liquor and Wine Shoppe located at 1214 E 53rd St. In 2013, he decided to create the event that would go on to become the Hyde Park Brew Fest.
Though that event started with 500 attendees in one day, it has since ballooned to more than 25,000 people per day.
For him, it’s a clear source of pride — and a great way to give back to a community that’s given so much to him.
“I was born and bred in Hyde Park and this is where my roots are,” Swain told the Defender.“I really believe that as you grow in life and you can become successful, it’s incumbent upon you to give back to your community.”
Even though the rain and hail threatened to slow down attendance numbers and dampen spirits, Swain has seen nothing of the sort.
“We have had a great day today — people having a good time,” he said. “Anytime the community comes together to celebrate the diversity Hyde Park has, the diversity Chicago has on the Southside. It’s a win.”