While hordes of people cram together chomping down on giant turkey legs at the Taste of Chicago, five and a half miles away on North Racine in Lincoln Park, a more subdued crowd gathers in a parking lot for Chicago’s first ever Pizza Fest. While it may be the slices people came for, they end up flocking to the booze tents, as there are only four restaurants (including Palermo’s Red Ivy and Caponie’s Trattoria) offering up pizza. Chicago’s signature deep-dish style is inexplicably absent.
Instead promotional tents for companies like Comcast and Washington Mutual try to pull in new clientele, and a variety of merchandise stands including classic movie posters, hippie jewelry, ponchos and Chicago-themed art align the street. “There’s too many people at the Taste, and it’s all tourists, this is a better atmosphere,” a woman explains as she waits in line to join the sea of Polo shirts currently tossing beanbags.
In the opposite corner the elderly crowd takes a sitting break in a beer garden as they completely ignore the Do-It-Yourself Pizza chef presentation in front of them. The speaker seems to know everything about pizza, but lacks the necessary social skills.
“I’m the CEO of this company,” he says “…the Chief Entertainment Officer that is.” Not even a groan from the crowd.
A reggae-funk-jazz band plays in the parking lot, but their audience has been stolen by a man dancing on roller skates. “What the hell is this guy doing?” a man leans over and asks his friend. Neither eat pizza. (Michael Mellini)