Festival listings: August
FREE Chicago Navy Week Mon 13–Sat 19. Various locations (901-874-7049, navyweek.org). Chicago is one of 15 cities to greet sailors and host a weeklong celebration of naval servicewomen and men. Ship visits, the Navy Band, vehicle demos, tours and a navy simulator commemorate the War of 1812 and show visitors what it means to be in the Navy. All those adorable ladies and gents in white uniforms will be walking around, too. Locations and times TBA.
Illinois State Fair Mon 13–Sun 19, 7am–midnight. Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 Sangamon Ave, Springfield (217-782-6661, agr.state.il.us/isf). $5, seniors and kids ages 5–12 $2, kids under 5 free. Come for the festival fare, stay for the Butter Cow—the fair’s unofficial icon and Paula Deen’s life-long dream, a life-size cow sculpture made of 500 pounds of butter. Watch tractor pulls, horse races, parades and musical acts. Some events require additional tickets.
* FREE Movies in the Park Mon 13–Sun 19. Various Chicago Park District locations; see website (312-742-7529, chicagoparkdistrict.com). Grant Park movies are long gone, but the Chicago Park District has since picked up the slack by beefing up its neighborhood outdoor movie series. More than 100 local parks get their own big screen for a night or two. All movies begin at dusk.
* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 15, Fri 17 at 6:30pm; Sat 18 at 7:30pm. Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion, 205 E Randolph St (312-742-7638, grantparkmusicfestival.com). Pack a picnic and stretch out on the Great Lawn or grab a chair in the Seating Bowl as you listen to the Grant Park Orchestra and Chorus serenade packs of Chicagoans. Food and drink, including alcohol, are permitted. (Yes!)
FREE Velika Gospa Croatian Festival Wed 15, 10:30am–11pm. 2800 S Princeton Ave (312-842-1871, stjeromecroatian.org). Velika Gospa, the St. Paddy’s Day of the Croatian community, returns with Croatian food, music and dances. This Chicago tradition has roots more than a century old.
FREE Chicago SummerDance Thu 16–Sat 18, 6–9:30pm; Sun 19, 4–7pm. Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S Michigan Ave (312-742-4007, chicagosummerdance.org). Cut a rug, or at least learn how to at this annual series of couples dances Thursday through Saturday nights and Sunday afternoons. A professional instructor conducts dance lessons for the first hour before you bust a move on the Grant Park pavement.
FREE Edison Park Fest Fri 17, 5–10pm; Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–10pm. Downtown Edison Park, 6730 N Olmsted Ave (773-631-0063, edisonpark.com). Toss your bag in the ring and try to win at this fest’s cornhole tournament. Or let your pup shine at the dog show. Bingo tournaments, live music and a beer garden fill out the entertainment.
FREE Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest Fri 17, 6–10pm; Sat 18, Sun 19, noon–9pm. Glenwood Ave at Morse Ave (glenwoodave.org). This weekend artists’ market combines three stages of music and performance acts with locally made arts and crafts in the Rogers Park community. Festivities sans art kick off Fri 17.
North Side Summerfest Fri 17, 5–10pm; Sat 18, noon–10pm; Sun 19, noon–10pm. 4000 N Lincoln Ave (773-665-4682, starevents.com). $5. Time to channel your inner Kobayashi as this year’s fest features a hot-dog-eating contest. Local eateries will be serving their takes on the classic summer staple.
Oktoberfest in August Fri 17, 6pm–midnight; Sat 18, 2:30pm–midnight; Sun 19, 1–10pm. Schwaben Center, 301 Weiland Rd, Buffalo Grove (847-229-1000, oktoberfestinaugust.com). $5. An 800-seat beer tent ensures that you can say “prost” rain or shine. Besides beer, enjoy brats, live entertainment, raffles, games and a baggo area.
FREE Taste of Austin Fri 17, 2–10pm; Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–10pm. Columbus Park, 5701 W Jackson Blvd (773-921-2121, freewebs.com/austinpeoplesactioncenter). The largest neighborhood in Chicago takes over Columbus Park to host this fest filled with food, music and a parade.
Bristol Renaissance Faire Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–7pm. 12550 120th Ave, Kenosha, WI (847-395-7773, renfair.com/bristol). $19.95, advance $17.95, kids $9.50, advance kids $7.50. Have a jolly olde time and butcher your favorite European accent as you engage in live-action fantasy play, enjoy interactive riddles, cheer on your favorite jousting knight or revel in period performances from 1574. The festival takes place Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day in July, August and early September.
* FREE Chicago Air & Water Show Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–3pm. North Avenue Beach, 1600 N Lake Shore Dr (312-744-3315, chicagoairandwatershow.us). Trick pilots and aviation teams, such as the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and the U.S. Army Golden Knights Parachute team, dazzle crowds at North Avenue Beach for two days at the largest free event of its kind.
* Chicago SandCastle Open Sat 18, 10am–3pm. Osterman Beach, 5800 N Lake Shore Dr (chicagosandcastleopen.com). Watching free, amateur team of 3–5 $20, competitive team of 3–5 $150. Be crowned beach royalty as you build lakefront monuments, or watch as others usurp the throne.
FREE Long Grove Art Fest Sat 18, Sun 19, 10am–5pm. Downtown Long Grove, 343 Old McHenry Rd, Long Grove (847-634-0888, longgroveartfest.com). More than 120 artisans hawk their wares. Wine samplings from local and national vendors are supplied.
Oak Park Micro Brew Review Sat 18, 3–7pm. Downtown Oak Park, Marion St between Lake St and North Blvd, Oak Park (sevengenerationsahead.org). $40–$75. Designate a driver and then choose among more than 100 craft beer samples from 50-plus Midwestern microbreweries. The ecofriendly festival boasts sustainable food selections, live entertainment and a zero-waste environment.
FREE South Shore Summer Festival Sat 18, 10am–8pm. 73rd St between Stony Island and Ridgeland Aves (773-955-9559, southshorechamberinc.org). Soothe the soul with R&B and jazz performances by Harold Melvin & the Blue Notes, the Delfonics, Ray Goodman and Cuba Gooding & the Main Ingredient. The local South Shore Drill Team gets the crowd going.