Division Street between Ashland and Leavitt is packed with trendy salons, spas, cafes, bakeries and boutiques in addition to droves of popular restaurants that can satisfy any craving, and for one weekend every June the businesses and locals come together to participate in the Do Division Festival.
Running the length of Division Street with a main stage at either end and various bands battling for space on the side walks the festival gives an opportunity for small start up business and established local haunts to come together and celebrate the diversity of the area.
Street festivals appear to be customary during the summer months in Chicago, and many are extremely cost effective for those attending. We are disappointed that we will miss the Jazz Festival next weekend and the start of the free Downtown Sound Concerts in Millennium Park, one thing we have both noticed is the sense of community here, it appears to be the people of Chicago who organise many of the festivals and as a result the residents turn out in their thousands to show support.
Walking down Division street you are drawn into shops and over to stalls by the smell of freshly cooked food and the sight of colourful crafts and clothing. As we stopped to watch a band we started chatting to a chap whose 10 year old son had set up a bowls challenge on the street. A highly technical affair, he had arranged two drain pipes and some buckets on the side walk. Charging a dollar for a bucket of baseballs the aim was to bowl the balls up a ramp onto the drainpipes and if you hit the angle just right they would plop into a bucket at the end, five balls successfully in the bucket wins a prize. The game was attracting a lot of interest from people eager to display their skills and better the result of the player before. The savvy ten year old proved to be nobodies fool and disqualified a number of young men trying to cheat the system and claim prizes they were not due.
Our favourite of all the bands was a group of three ageing men who were clearly re living their youth by busking together in the doorway of a pawn brokers. Fag in mouth and wearing clothes that appeared to have avoided the washing machine for rather too long they played a mix of tunes old and new. Their easy style and great character was captured within their music and they gathered the largest crowd by far.