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Cajun Fest May be Coming to Central Lakeview

By Serena Dai | January 13, 2014 7:51am
 Lakeview could host a Cajun-food festival this summer.
Lakeview could host a Cajun-food festival this summer.
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Sean Gardner/Getty Images

LAKEVIEW — Another festival may be hitting Lakeview this summer, this time with a little spice.

Special Events Management founder Hank Zemola debuted the idea of a Cajun Fest to neighbors last week, proposing a two-day summer festival with a New Orleans theme.

A date has not been chosen for this year, but the fest would be held in the Advocate Illinois Masonic Hospital parking lot at the corner of Sheffield and Wellington, he said. David Morton of DMK Restaurants has agreed to help with the planning, Zemola said.

"That Louisiana style is very infectious," Zemola told Central Lakeview Neighbors. "The food can be very hot. It's music that makes you bounce."

Zemola's company organizes many festivals and runs in the city, including Southport's Taco Fest, the Belmont-Sheffield Music Festival and Roscoe Village's Burger Fest. Most include a nonprofit beneficiary. 

A portion of Cajun Fest proceeds would go to the hospital's charity and the Central Lakeview Neighbors community organization, Zemola said. Special Events foots all the expenses, which could range from $70,000 to $80,000, he said.

The festival would focus on Cajun food, fish and oyster boils and bluegrass and jazz music, Zemola said. It would happen on a Saturday and Sunday during the summer, though a specific date is not yet set.

About 1,500-2,000 people would be expected to attend, with tickets costing around $35-$40.

One neighbor worried that the neighborhood already has too many noisy, traffic-causing festivals in the summer — "keep that crap north of Belmont," he said — but Zemola said this one should have less impact on the neighborhood.

Cajun Fest would require no street closures since it's in a parking lot, he said, and the higher ticket costs and music genres will keep the festival tame. 

"We're looking at [an ages] 35-plus audience," Zemola said. "We're looking for families. We're not looking for rabble-rousers."