Chicago’s Randolph Street Market Festival kicked off its 2015 summer season with frolic and flair. This European-style antique flea market sprawls over eight urban acres in the West Loop with the wares of more than 250 dealers. Open one weekend a month through September, it ranks high on many “best” lists.
I got a first-hand look during the pre-opening media breakfast. The theme for the first market was “Garden Party.” We were asked to tour the various booths, and then tag our favorite items with green ribbons. The sellers included antique dealers, vintage resellers, apparel and jewelery designers, and fancy food purveyors. Many elaborated on the garden party theme with displays of planters, lanterns and hurricanes, barware and outdoor furniture. No tube socks or thigh reducers. Among my picks were a vintage cabbage-rose print dress and a turquoise-and-white serving tray adorned with flamingo characters.
Inside the main building, the historic Beaux Arts Plumbers Hall, are three levels of discovery: fine art and antiques on the main floor, the indie designer market on the lower floor, and the fancy food mart in the lobbies. TIP: Erotica is discreetly tucked behind a curtain on the upper balcony. It’s also good to know Plumbers Hall is air-conditioned and has clean, spacious restrooms.
Live music and entertainment were non-stop, setting a lively pace with the sounds of Dixieland, rockabilly, salsa, blues and disco. Also on the schedule were body painting, floral artistry, DIY demos and onsight appraisals. Artisan food and beverage vendors spurred our appetites. In the new MillerCoors Beer Pub, the menu featured beer-and-sausage flights.
SEEN AND HEARD: While strolling down one of the outdoor aisles, a voice behind me warned: “Coming behind you, folks.” It was a guy on a skateboard, whizzing by with an 8-foot folding table hoisted on his shoulder.
SEEN BUT NOT HEARD: A gigantic plush giraffe, perhaps nine feet tall.
HEARD BUT NOT SEEN: “There go the orange chairs!”
The market offers many amenities typically found in upscale shopping venues: Free parking, valet parking, complimentary trolley from downtown, and ATM machines.
Randolph Street Festival Market 2015 Calendar:
Location: 1340 W. Washington St.
Admission if $8 online and $10 at the gate. Early bird rates are available. Your dog gets in free.