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

t 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 freer 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.


Printer's Row Lit Fest

Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago

Printer's Row Lit Fest printer's square awning

Although I am writing this blog on 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!

Printer's Row Lit Fest

Something for everyone!

Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago

Printer's Row Lit Fest Third Coast Comics

Printer's Row Lit Fest in Chicago

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!

Printer's Row Lit Fest

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

Printer's Row Lit Fest Poetic Earth Journals

Poetic Earth Journals

Printer's Row Lit Fest

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


Printer’s Row Lit Fest is a free event with things 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 laziest readers!


Printer's Row Lit Fest

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

Printer's Row Lit Fest

An aspiring book illustrator?

Printer's Row Lit Fest

New York Times bestselling author, Adam Rubin

Printer's Row Lit Fest

The old Dearborn Station in Printer’s Row

The Printer’s Row neighborhood is actually a residential area now.  It retains its storied edge in the shadow of the old Dearborn Station. Dearborn Station was the entry for many of the murder victims who visited Chicago during the 1893 Chicago World’s Exposition.  You can read more about it in the wildly popular book, The Devil In The White City by Erik Larson. This fact is incredibly creepy!

Printer's Row Lit Fest Sandmeyer's Bookstore

Sandmeyer’s Bookstore has been serving Chicago’s South Loop since 1982

Printer's Row Lit Fest 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 😉

Printer's Row Lit Fest Printer's Row fountain

Folks keeping cool by the Printer’s Row fountain

Printer's Row Lit Fest

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.

Printer's Row Lit Fest Flaco Tacos

Printer's Row Lit Fest

Legendary Powell’s Bookstore

Printer's Row Lit Fest Kasey's Tavern

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

Printer's Row Lit Fest

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.


Labeled: Culture & Community · Travel