Chicago festival Candyland empowers women & LGBTQ

What started as the planning for an album release party has evolved into an annual event, celebrating women & the LGBTQ community within the music industry and art spaces. Candyland Chicago will be presenting their Halloween celebration, Trick or Treat, on Saturday, October 12th at Rutcorp (address TBA day before), sponsored by Stan’s Donuts and Red Eye Whiskey.

While rooming together, founders Hayley Jordanna and Jenna Cohen explained that they saw a need for representation in the industry.

“With Hayley being a musician and with me being in audio and being in those spaces, we realized there aren’t a lot of women, and there aren’t as many opportunities-- or there are a lot of women, but they don’t get the opportunity to shine and get their experience. Look at a lot of lineups, you don’t see them there," said Cohen.

Candyland promotes a collective array of pop, RnB, electronic and hip hop music, while also encouraging innovative, eccentric visual art.

“I wanted it to be really big, interactive and experimental,” said Jordanna. “I wanted it to be all woman and queer people and just a really empowering evening.”

This will be Candyland’s first pop-up event as their main event annually takes place in February, but they’re hoping this will be the first of many.

“We want it to be like EDC, ComplexCon all combined like Electric Forrest--these really huge interactive events that can pop up in multiple cities and ideally highlight the women in those cities,” stated Cohen.

Besides musicians and artists, Candyland partners with other organizations fighting for the cause like Babes Only, Party Noire, Our Music My Body, F12 Network and small WORLD collective.

Jordanna added, “Literally every event we’ve worked with people who are spearheading this movement of inclusive music spaces for women and queer people.”

Working with these organizations has been detrimental into curating Candyland. As the events move into larger spaces, they look forward to incorporating more people and submissions.

“Most of the decisions have been made through spaces that we know the community and whose doing good work because I think it’s important for us to work with people we believe in as humans in the community as well as artists.”

Trick or Treat’s lineup this year includes BFFcult, Jordanna, Sun BLVD, Mo Mami and Rae Chardonnay. Visual art by Audra Jacot, Crystal Cosmos, Kushy Land, Alex Lukawski and more will be featured.

It’s also important to Cohen and Jordanna that every aspect of the event is ran by the community as well, giving a shout out to videographer Rosaleah Gonzalez and audio engineers Carla Pereyra and Yasmine Mifdal, whose talents were recognized at last year’s main event in February and resulted in a touring job.

“To us, it’s about creating opportunities and connections.”

Candyland aims to set the standard for women and the LGBTQ community working in the music industry and art spaces.

“One of our goals within the next year is that we want to move to a more legitimate space so we can get more money to pay these women. The biggest thing in the industry is sure there’s a ton of women who do this work, but they’re not getting paid for their talent and their skills. It’s something we really want to do. We do try to pay as many people as we can on our team, even if it’s something as low as $25. It’s like the symbolism of we hire these women, and they will get paid for their work. The goal is to create a space for women to really start earning money that they deserve in the industry.”

Trick or Treat is a 21 and up event. Costumes are encouraged. Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door.