I've written something about the book fair on Printers Row (aka lit fest) every year--here, here, here and here--since I began blogging on this site. I would have no right to call this blog "South Loop Observer" if I didn't. It's the South Loop signature event. Albeit brought to us by the Chicago Tribune, which has been doing it for the past several years.
We South Loopers love to walk down Polk and Dearborn and see the neighbors during our fest--and we chat on the street because we have all the time in the world. We're in our own backyard. We're a tad more relaxed than the other attendees because if, nothing else, if we have to go to the rest room, we can go home. And come back again. No muss, no fuss.
My girlfriends throw parties in their lofts. And they volunteer to sit in the neighborhood organizations' booths--South Loop Neighbors and Near South Planning Board
(NSPB started the fair and gave it life for many years before the Tribune took over)--giving out information and membership brochures. We South Loop Neighbors
board members also narrate the NSPB Trolley Tour of the near south side as it trundles along from the South Loop and on into Bronzeville
. The most nerve wracking it gets is coordinating all of this activity so that we can all end up at the parties at the same time, to eat and drink and share the names of the books we bought and the authors we saw. And some of us are even the authors that we go to see. It's all so very cosmopolitan. And provincial. So Hamptons. And so Nascar.
Tritely I will say it: there is excitement in the air. We see the fair go up and we see it come down. In the night air, we hear the clanging of the poles that secure the tents as they are shifted into place on Friday night--or strewn on the street during take down on Sunday night. We're old hats, but no number of years doing it ever takes the gild off the rose.
Yes, there are always things that we kvetch about. Like Glessner House Museum's fundraiser, Walk Through Time
taking place on Sunday during the Book Fair. Where magnificent and occupied single family homes in the Prairie District that go back as far as 150 years are open for snooping. But why should the fest and the walk coincide in this way, setting up a conflict between seeing the homes in the Prairie District and the book aficiandos at the fair?
I had a minor tantrum this year when I arrived at the only book fair activity that I actually ordered tickets for three weeks in advance--Tribune columnist Mary Schmich's interview with the New York Times' columnist Gail Collins
. When I arrived promptly at 11 AM, I was told there was standing room only. "But I ordered tickets three weeks ago," I said. "Did you oversell the seats?"
No, I was told, "we had two lines. One for people with tickets, one for people without tickets and we let in people from both lines." So much for tickets. That explanation was so lame, I had nowhere to go and nothing to say but, "well, march over there and get rid of two people who don't have tickets so my daughter and I who DO have tickets can sit down." They wouldn't do that, however. Which proves the point I am always making: if the Chicago Tribune can get something wrong, it will.
I did spot a spare couple of chairs against the side wall with knapsacks on them, however, and I marched over and took them off and moved those chairs into a row for us. But then a huge spotlight began shining in my eyes. So I asked someone in charge to please shift it over. The gentleman returned shortly to say that C-Span, which was taping the interview
said "no." So I cupped my hand and shaded my eyes for the whole interview.
Which reminds me not to forget to mention that C-Span, which always gives out oodles of red book fair book bags every year to the fair goers, gave me another one this year. So I now have one red bag for every year I've come to the fair. So what can I say? "Keep 'em comin'."
We are no longer accepting new comments on ChicagoJournal.com