Festival listings: August
* FREE Movies in the Park Mon 6–Sun 12. 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.
* Wisconsin State Fair Mon 6–Thu 9, 8am–11pm; Fri 10, Sat 11, 8am–midnight; Sun 12, 8am–10pm. Wisconsin State Fair Park, 640 S 84th St, West Allis, WI (414-266-7000, wistatefair.com). $9, seniors $6, kids ages 6–11 $5, kids 5 and under free. Pass through the Cream Puff Drive Thru to get your pastry fix at this classic state fair. Carnival rides, food, music and a daily parade make up the fest. Some events require separate tickets.
* FREE Grant Park Music Festival Wed 8, Fri 10 at 6:30pm; Sat 11 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 Chicago SummerDance Thu 9–Sat 11, 6–9:30pm; Sun 12, 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.
Festa Italiana Thu 9, 3–10pm; Fri 10, 3–11pm; Sat 11, noon–11pm. Taylor St between Racine St and Ashland Ave (festaitaliana2012.com). $5, kids free. The UIC area gets in touch with its Little Italy roots by showing off neighborhood restaurants and Italian-flavored bands.
Illinois State Fair Thu 9–Sun 12, 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 Mendota Sweet Corn Festival Thu 9, 6–10pm; Fri 10, 11–12:30am; Sat 11, 9–12:30am; Sun 12, 9am–6pm. 800 Illinois Ave, Mendota (815-539-6507, sweetcornfestival.com). Listen to your stomach and eat ear after ear of those golden kernels. Festgoers can expect live music, carnival rides, a parade and a flea market. On Sunday, join the 60-year tradition of eating perfectly cooked corn from a vintage steam engine for free.
Tug Fest Thu 9, 5–11pm; Fri 10, 3pm–midnight; Sat 11, noon–midnight. Port Byron Business District, Main St from Walnut St to Quarry St (309-658-2021, tugfest.org). $3. Cheer on Port Byron, Illinois, as it defends a tug-of-war championship against LeClaire, Iowa. A 2,400-foot rope is pulled taut across the Mississippi River. The big tug goes down Saturday at noon. For noodle-armed festgoers, the event also has live music, carnival rides and fireworks.
FREE Wood Dale Prairie Fest Thu 9, Fri 10, 6–11pm; Sat 11, 3–11pm; Sun 12, 1–6pm. 100 E Commercial St, Wood Dale (773-868-3010, chicagoevents.com). This west suburban fest celebrates its tenth anniversary with carnival rides, fried foods, bingo and fireworks.
* Ginza Holiday Festival Fri 10, 5:30–9pm; Sat 11, 11:30–9:30pm; Sun 12, 11:30–7pm. Midwest Buddhist Temple, 435 W Menomonee St (312-943-7801, ginzachicago.com). $6, students and seniors $5, kids under 12 free. Throw on a yukata, the summer kimono, at this 57th annual celebration. Meet and buy crafts from master craftsmen called Waza. Live martial arts, cultural songs, classical dances and Japanese food give Chicago a taste of Japan. Get to the fest early Saturday before the entrance fee rises to $10 at 7pm for Yoko Noge’s Japanesque Band. Prices drop back down Sunday.
Bristol Renaissance Faire Sat 11, Sun 12, 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 Korean Festival Sat 11, Sun 12, noon–10:30pm. 3200–3400 W Bryn Mawr Ave (ckacc.org). Say anyang without having to talk about Arrested Development. Unless you want to talk about it—we won’t stop you. At this annual fest, take in traditional Korean dances, food and culture.
* Northalsted Market Days Sat 11, Sun 12, 11am–10pm. N Halsted St between Belmont Ave and Addison St (773-868-3010, chicagoevents.com). $7. Called the Midwest’s largest two-day street festival, this gay-run event offers live music, more than 400 food and arts vendors, and primo people-watching opportunities. Tony Award–winning Dreamgirl Jennifer Holliday performs.
Retro on Roscoe Sat 11, noon–10pm; Sun 12, noon–10pm. 2000–2300 W Roscoe St (773-665-4682, starevents.com). $5. Six blocks of antique vendors and three stages for live music fill out the event list. While that’s going on, Four Treys Bar hosts an antique and classic car and motorcycle show, featuring more than 50 automobiles.
FREE Veggie Fest Sat 11, Sun 12, 11am–8pm. Science of Spirituality Meditation Center, 4S175 Naperville Wheaton Rd, Naperville (630-955-1200, veggiefestchicago.org). This meat-lover’s nightmare may finally teach you to eat your veggies. Vegetarian restos and vendors offer cooking demos and meat-free samples while speakers espouse the benefits of a no-meat lifestyle.
Slow and Low Community Lowrider Festival Sun 12, 11am–9pm. Chicago Urban Art Society, 600 W Cermak Rd, unit 1B (773-951-8101, slowandlowchicago.tumblr.com). $10, kids $2. Drive a little slower to check out more than 40 lowriders from local car clubs at this Pilsen fest. Food, music and an awards ceremony will hopefully get War’s ode to the slow ride out of your head.