Chicago Chinatown Summer Fair entertains local residents and NU students

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Jenna Wang/The North West Daily

The Chicago Chinatown Summer Fair entertained thousands of tourists and residents for two days with shopping, food, entertainment and more.

Chicago’s Chinatown held its annual Summer Fair, a two-day event celebrating East Asian culture through food, shopping, art and music, this past weekend.

“It’s really encouraging to have the fair because there are a lot of people from different places in Chinatown and the suburbs,” said Naomi Wu, a sophomore at Weinberg and a resident of Chinatown. “They’re all vibing and having fun in Chinatown, which is really exciting.”

The neighborhood street festival draws over 40,000 people from across the Midwest. This year, visitors to the fair shopped at street vendors, attended performances, participated in arts and crafts activities and participated in a fishball eating contest.

According to the Chicago Chinatown Community Foundation website which featured the festival, “this iconic event is one of the most ethnically unique outdoor events in Chicago and the Midwest.”

Community members created the Summer Fair, originally called “Taste of Chinatown,” in 1979 to increase the neighborhood’s reach in Chicago and give its organizations a chance to work together.

Caedon Hsieh (McCormick ’22) spent his time at the fair playing 9-a-side volleyball, which got its start on the streets of Chinatowns across the United States

His team set up the pitch on the street right next to the fair’s entrance and played all day, he said. The festival was the first time the sport was played on the streets of Chinatown in 56 years, according to Block Club Chicago.

“It goes back to the original roots of how 9-a-side volleyball started,” Hsieh said. “Originally, it was played on the streets and played in Chinatown by Chinese immigrants who couldn’t play anywhere else. It’s a pretty big cultural thing.

At the fair, Wu spent her time watching 9-a-side volleyball as well as performances by the Asian Pacific Islander Teen Alliance of Chicago, which featured a Chinese fan act, martial arts, and dances like the K -pop and J-pop. While walking the streets, she also met people she knew from the northwest, from church and high school.

Being able to reconnect with so many people from different parts of her life is what makes the summer fair one of Wu’s favorite events in Chinatown, she said.

“There was one person that (I) grew up with…with,” Wu said. “I hadn’t seen him in 10 years, and he was just walking randomly down the street.”

Growing up in Chinatown is what made the fair so much more personal, Wu said. She lives on the same street as a grocery store, restaurant and hotel, all located right next to the fair.

Living in the community’s “dead center” allowed Wu to experience Chinatown in a different way than tourists, she said.

“Being able to see people in Chinatown, like when I walk to school or to the train station, gives me a chance to be connected to the community in a way that I feel I don’t get to in Evanston,” said said Wu. “I think it helped me care more about the community.”

Although Hsieh is from suburban Chicago, he sees similar elements of the Chinatown community on his volleyball team.

The tight-knit unit is one of them, Hsieh said, which he could observe even when he visited the fair for the first time.

“One thing that we really emphasize with our team is the idea of ​​family,” Hsieh said. “That’s the culture that I think we’ve tried to develop within our team and that’s also true of the large Chinese community in Chinatown Chicago.”

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