Previewing This Weekend’s Square Roots Festival, Part 1
After a two-year COVID-19 hiatus, the Square Roots Festival is returning this weekend. The event takes place July 8-10 along Lincoln Avenue, between Montrose and Wilson Avenues (4400 to 4600 N).
Co-founded by the Old Town School of Folk Music and the Lincoln Square Ravenswood Chamber of Commerce, the event features three days of music from three stages, plus a Kid Zone. Lincoln Square restaurants and stores will be open for food sampling and shopping. There will be over 50 vendors and exhibit booths.
Returning this year is a Brew Lounge with 40 specialty selections from brewers in the Lincoln Square neighborhood and around Chicago. In Part 2 of this coverage, we’ll talk with Daniel Abel of Pilot Project Brewing, which will be among the brewers sampling out.
“We” (meaning me) got to talk with Carly Katz, who runs the craft-focused Bottles and Cans liquor store (4109 N Lincoln Ave.), who put together the craft beer program.
MM: Since the past two years saw the festival canceled because of COVID-19 concerns, was there a “point of no return” where you decided you’d have the festival this year, no matter what?
CK: I think we all had a lot of confidence, myself and the Lincoln Square chamber. We did a small festival in the winter to see how people would react, and people really, really were excited to be out again, so we felt like it’s time to try to get back to a little bit of normalcy. And we think people are ready to be out and about again. We have all the confidence in the world that this will go off as if nothing ever happened.
MM: Among the nearly 40 acts that will be featured at Square Roots will be some nationally known ones like Bob Mould, Guided by Voices, and !!! (Chk Chk Chk) (And Wiggle Worms for the Kid Zone). Were the bookings all handled by the Old Town School?
CK: Yes, Old Town does an incredible job at this booking component. I am not a very hip person so a lot of these guys I unfortunately didn’t know, but a lot of my friends, my family, and employees are insanely excited about the list. One of my employees even brought up to me that he’s concerned that we’re not ready for the number of people who want to be there to see these guys, so it’s exciting, and again I don’t know how Old Town does what they do but they can get some incredible artists out to to Square Roots.
MM: Besides beer and music, will the restaurants and retailers along the block be out there in some form?
CK: Exactly. The game plan is to have people also enjoy the restaurants that are there like everything else. After COVID, it’s definitely a little harder of a start up for a lot of smaller businesses, so joining festivals can be a little trying at this point, but they’ll still be there in their brick and mortar. We absolutely hope that people continue to patronize and go into these places. You know, go have lunch at The Warbler, come back out, get your beer, and enjoy some music.
All up and down Lincoln, there are all these wonderful mom and pop retail local shops, and artisans. Tori Grace Outfitters will be there selling all of her wonderful merchandise. We do a lot with like Urban Pooch, who will be out there doing their wonderful dog stuff. Because as I think everyone knows Chicago dog owners take this very seriously. So dogs are welcome and hopefully everyone will be able to get started again in their festivals.
MM: So tell us more about your craft beer offerings.
CK: Half Acre is coming in strong because Lincoln Square was where their home base was for a long, long time. We’ll also see our friends with Dovetail, Begyle, Brewers Kitchen, Alarmist, Maplewood, and Metropolitan Brewing. Northman Cider is going to be there serving just maybe the best cider ever.
Half Acre has graciously offered to give us some of their very cool barrel aged items that not a lot of people get to see, that we will be able to pour out for people. Dovetail is also going to be pouring their fruited sour. There will be about 16 to 19 limited edition beers pouring at the Brew Lounge alone.But when those beers kick, they’re done. Add to the beers being showcased in the main area, and we have a total of 26 to 34 beers available.
This is all weather pending, I’m assuming it will be a beautiful day with some heat, so a lot of crushable beers out there.
Scarpetta Wine is also going to be there with us, so if you are a wine lover, we will have some very nice wine as well. And there will be cocktails and hard seltzers, too.
MM: Are there changes that will be apparent to anyone who’s been there before?
CK: We’ve moved Brew Lounge into kind of the main area because that was such a tremendous success, we decided to move it off Sunnyside and bring it closer to the music. And then the kids area is expanding because that’s a neighborhood with a lot of young families. If you have a lot of kids, we never want to give you a reason to not join us, so we’ll have a place for them.
Carly concluded by noting the job the Old Town School has done bringing all kinds of bands:
CK: The headliners are incredible, so now you’re coming out listening to awesome bands, drinking awesome beer,and browsing awesome retailers in an awesome neighborhood. We hope when people leave Square Roots, if they’re not in the neighborhood, they’ll venture out. Go visit Timeless Toys in the square, go, you know, go see L&M Fine Foods, because it’s the cutest little artisanal grocery store. There’s a lot to offer in Lincoln Square.
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