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What to expect at Bulls Fest this weekend

The Chicago Bulls are hosting a street festival for fans outside the United Center.

Jeffy Mai
Written by
Jeffy Mai

Coming on the heels of the Chicago Bulls’ first postseason berth since 2017, the team is looking to ride the momentum into another big season. The first step in that campaign is happening this weekend at the inaugural Bulls Fest, a two-day street festival taking place in the parking lot across from the United Center. 

Unlike similar events held annually by the Cubs, Blackhawks and White Sox, Bulls Fest is modeled after Chicago’s street festivals and will be free to all. Organizers say the format is designed to connect with the community and give fans a chance to immerse themselves in all things related to Bulls culture.

“It’s an opportunity for us to celebrate not just the players but the beats, the eats, the arts,” Bulls vice president of marketing Dan Moriarty said. “We think this is a modern, forward-looking Chicago Bulls way of doing a traditional fan convention.”

One of the main highlights of the weekend will be a three-on-three basketball tournament. Although sign-ups have closed, fans can still watch as players battle for hoops supremacy on more than 40 courts. A little under 200 teams, spread out across 24 brackets, are slated to compete. Teams are grouped based on age and other factors, and there will be men’s and women’s elite divisions for players aiming to be the best of the best.

Fans who want to channel their inner Zach LaVine and get in on the action themselves can participate in a three-point shooting contest that will be open to the public. Prefer rim rocking jams? Team Flight Brothers, a group of professional dunkers with more than 150,000 subscribers on YouTube, will leave viewers oohing and aahing as they show off their talents in a slam dunk competition.

Children ages 7-14 can hone their skills in a number of youth hoops clinics. The sessions are designed to help kids learn and practice basketball fundamentals, such as ball handling, shooting, passing, defense and more. Instructors will include Bulls rookie Dalen Terry plus former players Ben Gordon and Randy Brown. You can register for the programs here; the registration fee is $10.

In addition to the basketball-themed activities, a music stage will be situated on the east side of the campus. Chicago rappers Da Brat and G Herbo are the headliners on Saturday and Sunday, respectively. Other scheduled acts include local ‘80s cover band Sixteen Candles and Dave Matthews tribute band the Trippin Billies. United Center regulars the Luvabulls and the Jesse White Tumblers will provide an authentic game day experience by performing as well.

Festivalgoers interested in seeing the headliners should plan to arrive early—the concert grounds has a limited capacity after 4:30pm and only those wearing wristbands will be allowed to enter. Eight thousand wristbands will be free to claim at the United Center starting at 1pm each day.

The United Center’s atrium will showcase “The Art of the Game: A Bulls Exhibition,” a fully immersive exhibition curated by All Star Press Chicago. You’ll be able to walk around and purchase artwork relating to the Bulls, basketball or Chicago from a hundred artists. A portion of the proceeds for select pieces will go toward Chicago Bulls charities. Limited edition Bulls Fest merchandise will be available at both the Madhouse Team Store and a special pop-up shop.

All the festivities are bound to work up an appetite so there will be plenty of food and beverage options. Local food trucks from Soul and Smoke, the Happy Lobster, 5411 Empanadas, Ms Tittle’s Cupcakes, Giordano’s, Flash Taco and Cafe Tola will be on site to serve a variety of delicious bites. Folks can quench their thirst with Dunkin’ iced coffee, a cold pint from Goose Island or Smirnoff Pink Lemonade cocktails and alcoholic popsicles. Corona will also set up a beer garden.

Those who are out of town or unable to make it this holiday weekend, fear not. Moriarty says organizers hope to learn from the experience and build upon it because the plan is for Bulls Fest to become an annual celebration. “We’re excited to bring this event to life this weekend, but we’re more excited to actually see how fans engage with it. We’ll be led by our fans.”

Bulls Fest will take place at the United Center (1901 W Madison St) on September 3–4 from 8am–9pm. 

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