Fall into the autumn spirit with 2 seasonal — and socially distanced — October food festivals in Chicago

Harvest Fest was held in the West Loop last year, but this year will feature separate ticketed events.

Harvest Fest was held in the West Loop last year, but this year will feature separate ticketed events. (Galdones Photography / HANDOUT)

While you may not be able to literally rub shoulders with other flannel-wearing food festival guests, you can still celebrate the onset of fall with the West Loop’s Harvest Festival and Lincoln Square’s Apple Fest, both of which look slightly different this year as they pivot to ticketed or online iterations due to COVID-19.

Apple Fest will touch down in Lincoln Square on the first weekend of October with apple-themed food and cider, plus fall-inspired wares from local businesses. Preorders are available online at and will be open until 3 p.m. Oct. 3. You can still wear your flannel (and maybe a flannel mask to match?) to the weekend farmer’s market, which will run from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, where you can pick up your online orders or buy in person.

Participating businesses include Bang Bang Pie & Biscuits, Mick Klug Farm, Luella’s Southern Kitchen Farmers Market, Begyle Brewing, Cafe Selmarie, Edgewater Candles, Savory Spice, City Grange, Timeless Toys and Ruff Haus Pets.

Harvest Fest, the celebration of autumn hosted by chef Stephanie Izard of Girl and the Goat, will run from Oct. 15 through Oct. 18, featuring live chef demonstrations, beverage classes and tastings, and live music. This year, the festival will take place at Izard’s restaurants around the city, instead of in the street as the Fulton Market Harvest Festival has in years past.

All the events are separately priced, ticketed and seated, so guests will be able to remain 6 feet apart from each other. Some events will take place outdoors on a rooftop. Tables, chairs, restrooms and high-touch areas will be regularly sanitized, and of course, masks are required, except while eating or drinking.

Chefs participating in the live cooking demonstrations include Sarah Grueneberg (Monteverde), Brian Jupiter (Ina Mae Tavern and Frontier), Jonathon Sawyer (Four Seasons Chicago), and Joe Flamm (Rose Mary). Beverage classes will be taught by Tim Williams (Pour Souls), Jim Striblen and Abby Titcomb (3 Floyds), John Barley (Solemn Oath) and representatives of Moet & Chandon. Ticketed meals feature Chicago chefs like Diana Davila (Mi Tocaya Antojeria), Zach Engel (Galit) and Lee Wolen (Boka).

Visit Tock to buy tickets and view the lineup. A portion of the proceeds from the festival will go to nonprofits like the Englewood-based I Grow Chicago; Equality Should Be Normal, which offers mentorship programs and violence prevention; and Southern Smoke, a crisis relief organization for the food and beverage industry.

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