My friends, have you looked at our calendar for this month? Oh my goodness, we are absolutely busy, busy, busy. Seriously, just two weeks was the Ukrainian Days Festival, the largest Ukrainian celebration in America, remember? The dancing, music, food, people all so friendly and happy, it was wonderful, but boy, oh boy, we were tired. Now it’s September and the wild, exhausting fun shows no signs of letting up. That’s a Very Good Thing, so let’s get on our way!
Right now, through September 3rd, it’s time to visit with our Polish friends and hang out at the Taste of Polonia, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave. This is much more than the usual food and music street festival, there will be cooking classes, various exhibits, a climbing wall, carnival rides and games, and there’s even a casino inside the Center where I will take a few chances. https://topchicago.org
We must plan carefully, because at the very same time, right now, Labor Day weekend, the annual Fringe Fest is occurring in a number of small, intimate theater spaces, all of which are a short walk from the Copernicus Center and the Taste of Polonia. Fringe Fest, if you’re not familiar, is self-described as a “performing-arts smörgåsbord” that seeks out, and presents to local, community audiences “the untried and the weird.” Twenty-four different one hour plays and presentations will be presented in five locations, multiple times, for a total of 92 opportunities to attend and that doesn’t include the special activities for children, Kid’s Fringe.
The Museum of Science and Industry is an ever-fascinating place to go, experience and learn about our world. In September there are “Illinois Free Days” in abundance, so pick one out and we’ll meet you there. General Admission is free, so what shall we pick out this time? I’m voting for the U-505, a captured German WWII submarine, the only one of its kind still in existence, but you might prefer the Coal Mine. Illinois Free Days are September 4–6, 10–13, 17–20, 24–27, 5700 S. Lake Shore Drive, https://www.msichicago.org
Friday, September 8th, it’s time to visit Lincoln Square and join the fun with our friends of German heritage at German American Oktoberfest. German music, German bier, food, and so much more will be on hand in the Square itself, on Lincoln Ave. at Leland. The festivities start at 5pm on Friday, perfect for an after-work evening out, and the official opening ceremonies are at 8pm. We can stay until it closes at 11pm.
Remember the Ukrainian Days celebration, just two weeks ago? Guess what? We’re at it again! Saturday and Sunday, September 8 & 9; we’ll meet you at the Ukrainian Village Festival, hosted by Sts. Volodymyr and Olha Parish, 2245 W. Superior St. Mayor Jane Byrne designated Ukrainian Village an official neighborhood on January 18, 1983, the first such designation in Chicago’s history. This community is home to nearly 100,000 Ukrainian Americans, and a number of other ethnic groups, as well as museums, shops, schools and numerous churches. It is known for its architectural splendor, historic landmarks, and cultural events held throughout the year, especially this one! Come and see, join the fun, we’ll eat and drink and talk and visit with all the vendors showing their Ukrainian themed clothes. There’s a petting zoo for the kids, as well as other entertainments; of course, there’s music and dancing, and somehow you can teach me to say a few nice things in Ukrainian, please? http://uccaillinois.org/events/ukrainian-village-fest.
Sunday, September 9th, is when we gather up the families as well as our friends and travel west to DeKalb, Illinois, for Kite Fest, where we and the kids will enjoy colorful, crazy kites of many different styles and colors, and even see a real “kite fight”. Is that cool or what? DeKalb is a pleasant town, home to Northern Illinois University, surrounded by farmland, where farmers grow corn and soy and harvest the wind with massive turbines. The festival is at Lucinda Ave. and Kishwaukee Dr., on the NIU “North 40”. http://dekalbcountycvb.com/dekalbkitefest/
This is also where Whiskey Acres Distillery grows the grains used in making their excellent whiskey, bourbon, and other spirits. All are available in the tasting room, on the farm, 11504 Keslinger Road, less than ten minutes from downtown DeKalb. I never tire of hearing the details of how this family grew the farm to include this business, all the work that it’s taken and the actual steps they take to insure a superior product. http://www.whiskeyacres.com
The next weekend, Saturday the 15th, Park Ridge celebrates the 28th Fall Arts & Crafts Adventure at Hodges Park, Park Ridge, right across from City Hall. From 9am until 5pm we’ll stroll through the park and take in the displays, award winners, and various crafts at a leisurely pace, watching as one or another artist demonstrates the creative process in action, right before our eyes.
Park Ridge is an excellent location for this show, as the vibrant downtown area is full of boutique retailers and novel eateries, including I T Crepes, 114 Main St, Park Ridge, IL 60068, (847) 653-6786, where the menu of fine edibles ranges across a variety of savory lunch and dinner mainstays – I’ll have the vegetarian, because mushrooms, green peppers, onion, spinach, tomato & mozzarella sounds delicious. The menu continues through the wonderful range of sweet dessert crepes, intensely rich espresso, or carefully brewed coffees of your choice. My choice is cappuccino.
Sunday, let’s get out, at least most of the way, into the country, for the 20th Annual Monarch Festival at Lake Katherine Nature Center and Botanic Gardens, in Palos Heights, Illinois. This is an event just for the younger children, ages 3 to 6 years old, where they can learn how a butterfly grows and changes. Look closely at butterflies, sing a butterfly song, take a nature walk, and create a fluttery project to take home. Monarchs are already in the neighborhood, fluttering from day-lillies to garden flowers. So beautiful. Space is very limited, so let’s be sure to call ahead and make reservations. https://www.facebook.com/events/1024481431033798/
I would think that September is a bit early for apples in Illinois, but growers in Long Grove disagree, and that’s a good thing. The Annual Apple Festival starts on September 21st, with hundreds of delicious apple-inspired treats for all of us to enjoy. It really is a bit over-the-top, in a fun way, when a festival presents us with apple popcorn, apple pies, apple sangria, chocolate covered apples, hard apple ciders, apple cider donuts, spiced apple lattes, green apple cotton candy, a variety of fresh apples, apple and goat cheese dumplings, apple pie, cinnamon apple ice cream, and more. Oh gosh, who knew?
There’s good music, of course, on three stages, many activities for children and parents, and we grown-ups can even indulge in some ballroom dancing. How’s that for a great festival! Throughout the day we’ll naturally walk past, and sometimes into, the antique stores, boutique shops and other small retailers, all of whom will warmly greet all of us (even me!) who happen into their stores and shops. http://longgrove.org/festivals/apple-fest
Since we’re heading up this way already, how about if we double date for the week-end? We’ll leave the Apple Fest in time to drive to McHenry and catch a movie at the DRIVE IN THEATER. It will be so cool – we’ll park side by side, hang the speakers inside the windows, snuggle up with our dates and have just the greatest time. Golden Age Cinema, 1510 Chapel Hill Road, McHenry, http://www.goldenagecinemas.com/#/mchenry PS. It’s a double feature! Amazing. Fun.
Just a short way past McHenry is Richmond, Illinois, a quiet little town on Lake Elizabeth, where I’ll bet we can find a nice, secluded little Bed n Breakfast, like the Inn at Lake Elizabeth http://www.theinnatlakeelizabeth.com/. We can spend Sunday just walking and “antiquing” in and around town, before heading back into the city for work. There are plenty of choices, both old and new, for us to just go wander around. Relax, breathe deeply, not every day has to be full of music, noise and people,
On the last Friday of September, the 27th, Expo Chicago, the International Exposition of Contemporary & Modern Art, opens their art fair in world famous Navy Pier. Expo’s mission is to establish Chicago as a preeminent art fair destination. We’ll find a vast array of art in every medium; every piece is carefully curated and on display in such a way as to challenge us as viewers, yet yield an appreciation of the skills, creative talent and pure, hard work that art requires. The show runs through Sunday, September 30th,, https://www.expochicago.com/
WOW! What a rush September has been. Now for the finishing touch – Jazz! On Saturday & Sunday 29th & 30th, the Hyde Park Jazz Festival is hosting an accomplished, talented and musically very diverse (it is Jazz, after all) lineup of musicians guaranteed to make your ears, and your soul, very happy. From a tribute to Alice Coltrane to swinging big band tunes, to fresh sounds of young musicians showing their stuff, there is something here for anyone. The celebration takes place on the University of Chicago campus, with its stately architecture to contrast nicely with the smooth, yet complex sounds of Jazz. It’s on and near the UofC, starting at Midway Plaisance, south of Woodlawn. https://www.hydeparkjazzfestival.org/
Totally worth it, right? How on Earth will we ever get October to compare? Until next month, dear readers, keep the adventure in your heart.