For many young Black Chicagoans, like myself, waking up to your momma playing house music on a Saturday morning was the norm. That’s why every year, when July rolls around, thousands of house heads — old and young — flock to Jackson Park for the city’s largest cookout: the Chosen Few Picnic & Festival.

Today marks the 29th year of the house festival, which initially started in the 1990s as an intimate barbecue behind the Museum of Science and Industry with brothers and Chosen Few djs Andre and Tony Hatchett, their families and friends. Ultimately, word spread across the city, and the small gathering turned into one of the largest Chicago events of the year. 

An estimated 40,000 house fans are expected to attend today’s festival. For the Chosen Few Djs, seeing their festival grow from a family picnic into a world-class music event is a proud accomplish.

“We this thing got to a certain point, it was almost out of our control. We had been financing it out of our own pockets. That way wasn’t ‘gon continue to work,” Chosen Few DJ Alan King said at a May event with The Silver Room. “We decided we ‘gon try to figure out how to put on a world-class music festival. I think that’s what we do. That’s what I’m proud of.”

Gates opened at 7 AM today, and the festival will last until 9 PM. The Chosen Few DJs will perform throughout the day, along with some signature guests including Grammy award-winning mixer and producer David Morales, legendary house hitmaker Thelma Houston and Chicago’s own DJ Lori Branch. Additionally, in between dancing and singing, folks will be out there grilling and eating barbecue the whole time.

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