Yippie Fest, the successor to the dear departed Abbie Fest, comes back for a second year | Performing Arts Feature | Chicago Reader

Yippie Fest, the successor to the dear departed Abbie Fest, comes back for a second year 

This year’s iteration promises 101 acts, plus a ceremony to honor Pigasus, the Youth International Party’s 1968 presidential nominee.

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Serena Valenti

An era ended two summers ago when Richard Cotovsky pulled down the curtain on his long-running Abbie Hoffman Died for Your Sins Festival. Cotovsky first started the fest in 1989, the year of Abbie Hoffman's suicide, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of Woodstock, and at that point he was ready to move on. "The Last Abbie Fest" was meant to be just that, a fact reflected in the poster: a skull with a flag bandanna, hippie glasses, and Hoffman's trademark Jewfro.

But not everyone was done with the idea of an annual three-day, nearly round-the-clock celebration of off-off-Loop theatre. Frank Carr, whose comedy troupe Famous in the Future had appeared in the fest every year from the beginning, wanted to continue. And he wasn't alone. "We were sad this was ending," Carr recalls. "We knew we wanted to do something."

What they came up with was Yippie Fest, a weekend-long festival in the spirit of the festival named after one of America's most famous Yippies. But they decided to cast a wider net, adding art, short films, and live music to the program of short plays, solo performances and quirky stand-up acts.

Their first fest last summer fell on the 50th anniversary of the founding of the Youth International Party. It packed more than 80 groups into one weekend and two stages at Prop Thtr and featured a mix of Abbie Fest veterans (Famous in the Future, comic actor Rush Pearson) and newer performers (standup Sandy Lee).

This year's edition, which coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Yippies' six-day Festival of Life in Chicago, promises to be even bigger, with 101 acts.

Opening ceremonies will be Friday, August 17, at 7 PM. "We'll play a little video about Pigasus [a 145-pound pig the Yippies nominated for president in 1968] we got off YouTube," Carr explains, "I'll be dressed in a pig costume and get crowned for the fest."   v

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