Flames of Renewal at the 1st Annual Great Chicago Fire Festival

The Great Chicago Fire of 1871, lasted more than three days and burned down roughly four square miles of some of the most populated areas of the city killing 300 and leaving 100,000 more without shelter.  For a city which, at the time, only boasted 300,000 this became the disaster of the century.  Instead of devastation, however, the city grew stronger from the fire more than tripling its population over the next decade to almost one million in 1880.   Chicago has come to embrace this hellish event as proof of its grit and audacity.  Even today we have the soccer team, Chicago Fire, founded on the 126th anniversary of the Great Chicago Fire as well as the NBC drama by the same name which chronicles the lives of firefighters in Chicago.

Chicago Tribune archive photo of Chicago Fire
From the Chicago Tribune archive

This Saturday, October 4th, Chicago will once again celebrate its Phoenix-like rise from the ashes just a week shy of the 143rd anniversary of the fire. the Chicago-based Redmoon Theater Company is teaming up with the City of Chicago and various community organizations to put on the Great Chicago Fire Festival.  A celebration of grit, greatness, and renewal in the citizens and neighborhoods of Chicago. Located on the Chicago River, between State and Columbus, the festival will begin with performances and vendors, and end with flames and fireworks.

Great Chicago Fire Festival

Prior to the main attraction, performances at Pioneer Court and AMA Plaza range from spoken word poetry to dance pieces. Vendors located along the river at Upper Wacker will sell crafts and foods ubiquitous to Chicago neighborhoods.

Chicago Fire Festival MapThe Grand Spectacle, beginning at 8 p.m., features a performance by the Chicago Children’s Choir, steamships igniting floating house sculptures, fireworks, and a parade of boats representing Chicago neighborhoods. For a more detailed program, please check their website.

Great Chicago Fire Festival


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