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Renegade Craft Fair Stays on Division, Fashion Fest Future Up in Air

By Alisa Hauser | August 18, 2014 5:07pm | Updated on August 18, 2014 8:14pm
 Over 40 designers and local boutiques will be participating in this weekend's Chicago Fashion Fest.
Over 40 designers and local boutiques will be participating in this weekend's Chicago Fashion Fest.
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Dean Paul/Chicago Fashion Fest

WICKER PARK — After a week of uncertainty that had organizers of two large-scale events scrambling to look at alternative locations, the Renegade Craft Fair will be returning to Division Street next month while this weekend's Chicago Fashion Fest could be relocated from the east end of Division Street to the west end.

"We were in a holding pattern waiting to get more information, but ultimately CDOT got back to us and said we won't be affecting you guys after all," said Justin Rathell, an associate producer for the 12th Annual Renegade Craft Fair, set for Sept. 6-7 along Division Street between Damen and Paulina.

Rathell added that he is "glad that it is not something we have to worry about with such short notice."

 The Renegade Craft Fair returns to Division Street.
The Renegade Craft Fair returns to Division Street.
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DNAinfo/Alisa Hauser

Rathell said the Renegade Fair in Wicker Park attracts between 60,000-75,000 people and requires coordination with more than 325 vendors.   

Construction on the CTA Blue Line for the "Your New Blue" project was the cause of the possible relocation.

On Monday, Susan Aldous, a staffer at the West Town Chamber of Commerce, which had alerted its members to the possible relocation earlier this month, said, "We were happy that [Renegade Craft Fair] didn't have to scramble and make a quick change."

Meanwhile, details for Chicago Fashion Fest — an event scheduled for this Saturday and Sunday that's hoping to attract between 15,000-25,000 people — were still being determined on Monday, organizer Michelle Gomez said.

"We are not 100 percent sure if we are west of Damen or east of Damen. We do have a footprint plan for both sides," Gomez said.

However, late Monday Hank Zamora, a co-organizer of the Chicago Fashion Fest, admitted that the fest does not have a permit for the west end of Division Street.

"It's a lot of paperwork to do on short notice," Zamora said.


City officials earlier Monday confirmed that the originally planned location, on Division between Damen and Wood Street, would not be possible because the CTA needs to run a shuttle bus on Division between Damen and Ashland.

This weekend, the CTA plans to close Blue Line stations between Damen and Logan Square and will be providing a shuttle bus for customers with disabilities to the closest accessible station, which would be either Logan Square to the west or Clark/Lake to the east, said Catherine Hosinki, a CTA spokeswoman.

Ald. Joe Moreno (1st) said he was "trying to work with CTA and OEMC for an alternative to running buses down Division Street this weekend due to closures for construction on the Blue Line."

Gomez said she has been asking the CTA if the shuttle buses can reroute down Augusta Boulevard or North Avenue instead of Division Street.

Hosinki said on Monday that the shuttle buses will not be re-routed off of Division and would be traveling down Damen Avenue before heading east on Division.

Though it is Gomez's sixth year putting on the Chicago Fashion Fest, it is only the fest's second time on Division Street, and this year's event was scheduled to be larger than 2013's.

"It is growing so we we partnered [with Chicago Special Events Management] to offer a New Orleans theme," Gomez said. "A lot of the retailers to the east [on Division] have been looking forward to having the festival there. By moving west of Damen, it is taking traffic away from businesses that have been supporting the fest."

The Fashion Fest, which requests a $5 donation for entry (and includes beads for all who donate courtesy of sponsor Fantasy Costumes), includes participation from more than 40 designers and boutiques and live music both days, including headliner Buckwheat Zyedecko on Saturday night.

Gomez said if the Fashion Fest is relocated to the west side of Damen, it will have a smaller footprint — about two blocks shorter — and could lose some attractions, such as a mechanical bull for adults that requires about 400 square feet to operate. 

Chicago Fashion Fest is scheduled for noon to 10 p.m. this Saturday and Sunday along Division Street. The entrance to the fest will be at Division and Damen. For more information and updates, visit Chicagofashionfest.com.

Renegade Craft Fair is scheduled for 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sept. 6-7. For more information, visit www.renegadecraft.com/chicago-september-market-details.

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