Jun 26, 2023 - Things to Do

Silver Room Block Party ending after nearly two decades

Dense crowd of people, some with hands in the air, others staring forward, two buildings in the background, awning for dollar store.

The Silver Room Block Party on 53rd Street in 2017. Photo courtesy of the Silver Room Block Party

2023 will be the last year for the Silver Room Block Party.

What's happening: Organizers of the popular festival announced this past weekend that the annual event, currently set for Oakwood Beach at the end of July, will end after 18 years.

Why it matters: The Silver Room Block Party is integral to the South Side community.

  • "That was a big part of me keeping it going, knowing that it had a huge impact on the South Side, bringing different parts of the city together," Silver Room owner Eric Williams tells Axios. "Everybody came."

Context: The block party started in Wicker Park, where Williams ran the original Silver Room, a popular jewelry, clothing and community store.

  • When Williams moved his store to 53rd Street in Hyde Park in 2015, the Block Party grew, bringing thousands of Chicagoans to Harper Court and the surrounding area.

Reality check: The festival moved to Oakwood Beach last year after running out of room on 53rd Street. But that made the costs rise for stages, labor and vendors.

  • "As the producer of a festival, you see costs keep rising. You still want to do it, but it was becoming a block party with the budget of a festival," Williams tells Axios.
  • "To break even, I'd have to charge $150 a ticket. And I couldn't do that."

Between the lines: The once-free fest now charges $75 tickets at the Oakwood Beach location. Williams and the Silver Room Block Party aren't part of a community organization, so they don't get help with resources from the local chambers of commerce, as some other neighborhood festivals do.

  • "They have TIF funds or SSA money to market their communities. We don't."

What they're saying: For Williams, 18 years of producing this party is enough. "It's kind of a sense of relief in many ways," Williams says.

  • "I've been doing it as a labor of love, and I think people don't really understand how festivals in general work."

What's next: The last Silver Room Sound System Block Party will take place over two days, July 29-30.


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