The local vendors of ‘Freaky Deaky’

Carlo Varquez, Writer

When people hear music festival, some may not think of the vendors as part of the experience. But, in reality, a music festival would not be the same without a grilled cheese and a quesadilla with sauce dripping from the side or the official tour hat from a favorite DJ. This was especially true at Freaky Deaky, which happened at Toyota Park in Bridgeview, Oct. 28-30.

People go to music festivals excited to see their favorite artists and discover new music. As the long day passes, many find themselves checking out what is good to eat or what merchandise is available.

Freaky Deaky has really exploded into one of the largest Halloween events in the Midwest and Chicago vendors have an important role in providing the “Freaky” experience.

Howard Johnston and his brothers run Cheesie’s Pub & Grill.  If you don’t know Cheesie’s yet, they specialize in being creative with grilled cheese sandwiches.

“Most of our crowd are kids that go to these festivals and they love their grilled cheese.” said Cheesie’s employee, Joe Mullenix. “They go crazy for it. The perfect ‘festie’ food for everybody.”

The food truck has its own menu that serves six different sandwiches and tater tots. The menu also has a truck exclusive item called “tendie tots”.

“We like to use that menu as much as we can to serve at all our different festival events, functions, and parties,” Johnston said. And if you are wondering, the hottest item Cheesie’s sold over the weekend was the “Tenderizer,” a grilled cheese with mozzarella and cheddar cheeses, chicken tenders, bacon, and “tendie” sauce.

Doom Street Eats was another trendy food vendor at Freaky Deaky. “We do fun takes of traditional food,” said Luke Petillon, from Doom Street Eats. “We have tacos and quesadillas, but instead of chicken and pork, we do bacon mac and cheese quesadilla and spicy potato beer cheese tacos. We just do fun stuff.”

Doom Street Eats is based in Chicago. They do some corporate catering, but their main business is with music festivals. “We have done Bonnaroo, Coachella, Voodoo Fest, Firefly, Taste of Chicago….literally from California to Delaware.” Petillon said.

What has made Doom Street Eats successful around the nation is their ability to adapt to the location they are in. “We do not have a food truck. We work in a tent and that allows us to change the menu.” Petillon said. “So a menu in New Orleans versus Chicago versus Tennessee, we can tailor what we are doing with that crowd.”

Grassroots Chicago, a merchandising vendor that specializes in hats, was also at Freaky Deaky. Based in Colorado, there is a new Chicago location that opened in the West Loop.

Jorge Hurtado of Grassroots says they have already been to a couple music festivals in the Chicagoland area, such as Spring Awakening and North Coast.

“We do collaborations with lots of entities- music festivals and artists. We actually did the official hat of Freaky Deaky this year,” Hurtado said. “We are doing a lot better than we expected…not the typical crowd we cater to but that also serves as a challenge. This is a new audience that we can appeal to. It’s been good overall, definitely.”

For Grassroots Chicago, a new crowd served as a good learning experience for the business. Hurtado said,  “We had to push things harder. We are a pretty well known brand within the festival circuit, so people come to our booth on a mission. Other than that, we had to alert people coming in, whether it is talking to people or handing out stickers. Little things like that.”

 So it turns out Freaky Deaky is not your average music festival. It is a giant Halloween event right outside of the city with great food and merchandise vendors ready to add to the experience. Come next year and join the experience. The vendors will be more than prepared to serve hearty festival food from scratch and the best apparel from every artist.