BRIDGEPORT — Version Fest has never been the typical Chicago street fest filled with beer-soaked bros and cover bands.
Instead, the Bridgeport event is more like a weeklong moveable feast, with roundtable discussions and exhibits centered on a single, community-focused theme.
This year, it's "An Urban Operating System."
It's not about technology. It's about the human network of artists, activists, urban planners, developers, chefs, gardeners and other groups who make the city work. Together, the theme goes, the groups can "hack" the existing conventions of city life and make things a little better for everyone.
Ed Marszewski, the Bridgeport bar owner, publisher and backer of the arts who founded the event, said this year's installment is designed to "get people involved and let them know that small things can make a big impact. "
Festivities kick off 6 p.m. Friday with an exhibition at Co-Prosperity Sphere, 3219 S. Morgan St., where dozens of groups will show off their projects, ideas and businesses. Exhibitors include home brewers, community gardeners, sustainable builders, storytellers and many more. A compete roster is available at the Version Fest website.
On Saturday, Maria's Community Bar and Pleasant House Bakery, both located at 31st and Morgan streets, will host "Above the Pavement: A City Fair," a free outdoor event described as a "boutique flea market with good food meeting a county fair." There are no rides but there is live music.
An after-party will be at Co-Prosperity Sphere, where suggested admission is $5.
Several more events are planned throughout the week, including Monday's "Ko Po BBQ" at Maria's — think bratwurst, beers and kimchi, — Tuesday's installment of Story Club South Side at Co-Prosperity Sphere and Wednesday's discussion of "tactical urbanism" at the Chicago Cultural Center, part of the "Spontaneous Interventions" design series.
Another installment of The Art Bowl is planned for Thursday at Benton House, 3052 S. Gratten Ave. It's a project headed by Bridgeport Citizens Group co-founder Dan Pugh, who asks Chicago ceramic artists to create and donate bowls that’ll be filled with soups from local cooks. Admission is free, but buying a bowl is encouraged. Proceeds from the soup sales will benefit Benton House's food pantry program.
Version Fest closes out on Saturday with three events:
•From noon-6 p.m., it's the Bridgeport Record Fair outside Maria's, where crate diggers are invited to check out the offerings from some of the city's best record dealers.
•The Mash Tun Festival takes places 2-6 p.m. at the Bridgeport Art Center, where some of the world's finest breweries will be pouring specialty beers — including a few from the recently announced Marz Community Brewing — in celebration of the release of the Mash Tun Journal, a craft beer publication. Admission is $45 and by RSVP only.
•The festivities close out at Benton House with the resource agency's "SummerFest," a fundraiser to help maintenance efforts at the settlement house, complete with food, live music and a raffle. Tickets are $15.