Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago’s South Loop: 30th Anniversary

printer's row lit fest poster

This past weekend I attended the 30th annual Printer’s Row Lit Fest in my South Loop neighborhood in Chicago. This is definitely one of my MOST favorite festivals of the year, and lucky for me it takes place just a few blocks from my apartment. Despite the fact that no one was around to join me, I took advantage of the stunningly sunny Saturday morning (after spin class, of course!), got myself properly caffeinated and strolled on over to soak up some literary vibes! Since reading is mostly a solitary experience, I had no qualms about attending this event solo. In fact, I felt more free to float through the various book stalls and other performance stages at my own pace without worrying about what my friends were up to and when I should be meeting them.

street sign

printer's square awning

Although, I am writing this blog from my laptop, I am NOT a fan of the E-book. I still enjoy the physical weight of an actual book in my hand. I love the smell of the pages, especially from library books. Yes, I still go to the library. In my neighborhood, I have The Harold Washington Library with its fabulously adorned roof featuring green owls and which was named for Chicago’s first African-American mayor. I just love it!

Back to my story…

Printer’s Row Lit Fest is a 2-day event (put on by The Chicago Tribune) which takes place each year in early June along the stretch of space on Dearborn Street between Congress and Polk, known, surprisingly (HA!), as Printers Row which was once home to Chicago’s printing and publishing industries. Printer’s Row Lit Fest is the largest, FREE, outdoor literary festival in the Midwest. This is NOT some boring writer’s conference. Rather, it is a celebration which brings together 200+ authors, poets, booksellers, publishers, illustrators, bookbinders, readers and performers from all over the country to mingle amongst book stalls, performance stages, poetry readings and panel discussions. It is so much fun to see what other folks are reading. Last year, I had the pleasure of meeting my favorite writer, Marcus Sakey, a Chicago resident and author of 8 books, after attending a panel discussion he was on with 2 other crime writers. Two of his books, Good People and Brillance, are being made into films. Very cool!

Something for everyone!

Something for everyone!

muslim community tent

third coast comics

So, how do YOU define "freak?"

So, how do YOU define “freak?”

At Printer’s Row Lit Fest, folks browse and purchase discount books, used books, rare and expensive books, as well as journals ranging from $30-$500! I purchased a beautiful, moderately priced journal from Poetic Earth Handmade Journals which is based out of Syracuse, New York. Also, I stopped by Columbia College Chicago’s tent to listen to a few 2nd and 3rd year students recite some of their poetry. What a lovely way to start my day!

The folks who sold me my beautiful new handmade leather journal.  Love!

The folks who sold me my beautiful new handmade leather journal. Love!

Poetic Earth Journals

Poetic Earth Journals

My beautiful new, handmade, leather journal purchased at Poetic Earth Handmade Journals tent.  It looks great on my writing desk :)

My beautiful new, handmade, leather journal purchased at Poetic Earth Handmade Journals tent. It looks great on my writing desk 🙂

What is especially cool about Printer’s Row Lit Fest, aside from being a free event, is that there is something almost certain to entertain everyone’s literary tastes. From rare editions of literary novels to classic comics to children’s picture books to religious books, this is a place to stimulate even the most lazy readers!

This little girl couldn't wait to get home before she dug into her new book!

This little girl couldn’t wait to get home before she dug into her new book!

An aspiring book illustrator?

An aspiring book illustrator?

New York Times bestselling author, Adam Rubin, signs his latest children's book, Big Bad Bubble at Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago

New York Times bestselling author, Adam Rubin, signs his latest children’s book, Big Bad Bubble at Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago

The old Dearborn Station in Printer's Row - entry point for many of the unfortunate victims in the wildly popular book "Devil In The White City" by Erik Larson

The old Dearborn Station in Printer’s Row – entry point for many of the unfortunate victims in the wildly popular book “Devil In The White City” by Erik Larson

The Printer’s Row neighborhood is actually a residential area now but it retains its storied edge in the shadow of the old Dearborn Station (now a galleria!). Dearborn Station was the entry point for many of the poor murder victims who visited Chicago during the 1893 Chicago World’s Exposition, as recanted in the wildly popular book, The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. This fact is incredibly creepy!

Sandmeyer's Bookstore is an independent, family-owned store that has been serving Chicago's South Loop neighborhood since 1982

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore is an independent, family-owned store that has been serving Chicago’s South Loop neighborhood since 1982

M A Donohue & Co. sign

The Franklin Company

printer's row wine shop

Drink specials to entice avid book lovers to buy more ;)

Drink specials to entice avid book lovers to buy more 😉

Folks keeping cool by the Printer's Row fountain

Folks keeping cool by the Printer’s Row fountain

Cyclists and hula hoopers like to read too!

Cyclists and hula hoopers like to read too!

Lunch break! Hackney's has been serving up burgers and more for 75 years.

Lunch break! Hackney’s has been serving up burgers and more for 75 years.

flacos tacos

Legendary Powell's Bookstore

Legendary Powell’s Bookstore

Kasey's Tavern is THE place to be especially post-Lit Fest.  They are celebrating 40 years in the Printer's Row neighborhood.

Kasey’s Tavern is THE place to be especially post-Lit Fest. They are celebrating 40 years in the Printer’s Row neighborhood.

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Enjoy the photos and do consider visiting Printer’s Row Lit Fest in Chicago next June. Happy Summer Reading!

Curious about other fun Summer events in Chicago?  Read my posts on Chicago Summer Dance in Grant Park, Summer Film Series in Millennium Park and Jazzin’ At The Shedd.

ROAM. REVEL. REPEAT.

Labeled: Culture & Community · Travel