The recently formed Galewood Neighbors Inc. community organization will be holding a Galewoodstock free music festival at Sayre Language Academy elementary school, 1850 N. Newland Ave., on Aug. 21, from 1 p.m. to 8 p.m. 

The festival will feature local musical acts, informational booths from local organizations and a COVID-19 vaccination tent. It is the first event organized by Galewood Neighbors, whose members thought it would be a good way to celebrate local musical talent and bring attention to the neighborhood. 

Steve Green, chair of Galewood Neighbors’ board of directors, said that he and several other Galewood residents involved in the community started talking about forming a neighborhood association in 2019. 

“We felt that a lot of different neighborhoods in the City of Chicago had their own neighborhood associations and Galewood didn’t have one,” he said. “We felt it was kind of odd.”

The onset of the pandemic halted those plans, but they started meeting on Zoom during the fall of 2020, officially launching the organization in April 2021. 

Green said that one of the first things they wanted to do was to organize a music festival. Board vice-chair Beth Ranucci’s husband, Nick Ranucci, played saxophone in the Groove Witness jazz band, so she was familiar with the struggles musicians have faced throughout the pandemic, as venues close and events are cancelled. 

With many restrictions relaxing, cases going down after a spring surge and vaccinations becoming more widespread, the board thought that a music festival would be a good way to showcase Galewood musicians and “celebrate the reopening of Chicago post-pandemic.” 

The planning started before the rebound in cases fueled by the Delta variant. Green said that non-vaccinated attendees will be required to wear masks. The Illinois Department of Public Health will have a tent offering free COVID-19 vaccinations and tests.

The festival line-up came together through word of mouth. Green said that they got a number of donations from area restaurants, realtors and other businesses. Novak Construction, the current developer for the former North/Harlem Sears property, donated the largest amount of money, Green said. 

Green said that he was “pleasantly surprised and very happy” that the organization was able to put together a festival and raise the necessary funds in a matter of months, especially considering the fact that they were starting from scratch.

“This was on such short notice — most events like this, you start planning a year before,” he said. “We are excited and surprised by the outpouring of support. A lot of music events were basically cancelled or put on hold and I think that just the idea of doing something outside as a community really helped foster the support.”

Green said that Beth Ranucci and Chris Hartwig, who is responsible for the organization’s marketing, deserved special credit for their contributions. 

The festival will feature performances by Groove Witness, Nasty Snacks funk band, the Bitters jazz band, and Tino & The Latin Swing Factor swing band.  El Sirloincito taco truck and Robinson’s Ribs will sell food and local organizations will have tables set up with fliers. 

Green said that he hopes attendees enjoy themselves and come away with a positive impression of Galewood. 

“We want people to understand and realize, especially if they’re not from Galewood, that Galewood is a very welcoming community, very diverse culturally, and with a lot of different types of people,” he said. “We’re pretty proud of our neighborhood and we want people to know that.”

For more information about Galewoodstock, visit

Igor Studenkov is a winner of multiple Illinois Press Association awards for local government and business reporting. He has been contributing to Austin Weekly News since 2015. His work has also appeared...