There’s a plethora of summer church, school and street festivals every summer, but BenFest, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year, is one of the originals. This week they released their band listing, which headlines Dot Dot Dot on Friday, July 15 and Chicago-based, Southern rock band Hello Dave on Saturday, July 16.
Proceeds from the festival will go to repair the St. Benedict Catholic Church’s bell tower as well as to support new classes and programs at St. Benedict’s elementary and high schools, says BenFest’s Marketing Co-Chair, Holly Tajak-Edlund.
BenFest has all the things you’d expect from a North Side neighborhood festival: Local food joints, beer, afternoons filled with pretty-good cover bands and a kid section filled with face painting and a goldfish toss. And of course there’s the requisite appearance of the Jesse White Tumblers. If you’re lucky, 77-year old Secretary of State Jesse White might make a personal appearance and do a headstand for the crowd.
And yet, while BenFest is like so many other festivals, it manages to draw a decent crowd every year and maintain a distinct neighborhood feel. Instead of on a street, the fest is hosted inside the St. Ben’s parking lot, which is in a courtyard area surrounded by the school and church, bounded by Irving Park Rd., Bell Ave. and Levitt and Byron Streets. And the St. Ben’s Parish is an exceptionally vibrant group, which also runs their annual Headbanger’s Ball every fall.