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updated: 8/28/2011 7:11 AM

On the road: Chicago Jazz Fest turns 33

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  • Randy Weston opens the 33rd Chicago Jazz Festival.

      Randy Weston opens the 33rd Chicago Jazz Festival.

  • The annual Rock Island Grand Prix go-cart race attracts hundreds of international drivers to the Quad Cities during Labor Day weekend.

      The annual Rock Island Grand Prix go-cart race attracts hundreds of international drivers to the Quad Cities during Labor Day weekend.



All jazzed up

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The Chicago Jazz Festival turns 33 this year with style. It kicks off with intimate performances at the Chicago Cultural Center, shifts to Millennium Park for a Saxophone Summit featuring Joe Lovano, David Liebman and Ravi Coltrane, and fills Grant Park with a weekend full of music provided by Cassandra Wilson, Roy Hargrove and more. Free admission to all venues.

Noon to 10 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph St.; 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St.; and noon to 9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, at Grant Park, Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive. Call (312) 742-1168 or visit

Killer kapusta

The Taste of Polonia is the largest Polish festival in the United States. Expect nonstop live entertainment on five stages plus a kids' stage and activities. There will be rock, blues and polka music as well as dancing and folk art and plenty of food like kielbasa and potato pancakes.

5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2; noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4; and noon to 10 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5, at the Copernicus Center, 5216 W. Lawrence Ave., Chicago. Admission is $7 for adults $7; $3 for seniors 65 and older; and free for children younger than 12. Call (773) 777-8898 or visit

Sole to soul

Come on, admit it. You pretended to be a "Soul Train" dancer grooving through the grapevine way back when. You can relive the beat of "Soul Train" with a concert in honor of the 40th anniversary of the Chicago-based nationally syndicated program. Artists will include Jerry "The Iceman" Butler, The Impressions, The Chi-Lites, The Emotions and Gene Chandler.

6:30 p.m. Monday, Sept. 5, at Millennium Park's Jay Pritzker Pavilion on Michigan Avenue and Randolph Street in Chicago. Visit


Kansas City's Irish festival

Who needs to wait until chilly March for a cool Irish festival? The ninth annual Kansas City Irish Fest serves up 30 Celtic rock and traditional Irish bands on seven stages, heritage workshops, exhibits and a genealogy area, and a children's area that includes a human-sized inflatable hamster ball for their entertainment. The festival presents a new Jameson Irish Whiskey Tasting Tent as well as contests in knitting and baking.

5 to 11 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2, and 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, at Crowne Center Square, 25th and Grand, Kansas City, Mo. Admission is $15 per day at the gate, $10 for one day or $25 for the weekend in advance online. Admission on Friday, Sept. 2, will be $5. Visit

Swiss bliss

A trip to New Glarus, Wis., is a little slice of Switzerland especially if you visit during the annual Wilhelm Tell Festival. More than 200 costumed locals take the stage to celebrate Swiss independence with performances of "Wilhelm Tell," a story about the Swiss archer. A Children's Lantern Parade is the official kickoff to the fest. Visitors can browse the outdoor art fair, see Swiss fashion and get a load of real yodeling.

Lantern parade at 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 2; festival runs from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, at Village Park in New Glarus. Pageant tickets cost $10, $5 for students. Call (800) 527-6838.

Rev up the go-carts

If your kids love driving go-carts, the annual Rock Island Grand Prix go-cart race will be heaven. The event attracts more than 300 drivers from the U.S., Canada, Mexico, France, Italy and South America competing in 15 class divisions. In addition to food and merchandise booths, kid's activities and other race-related activities, the area offers restaurants, pubs, a comedy club, galleries, a dinner theater, a casino and live entertainment clubs all within walking distance of the race.

8:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 3-4, at Great River Plaza, 2nd Avenue between 17th and 19th streets in Rock Island, Ill. Call (800) 747-7800 or visit

Worth the trip

Sure, you've had hot wings, but have you sampled them in the city that invented the spicy delight? Buffalo, N.Y., celebrates the 10th anniversary of the National Buffalo Wing Festival with two days of traditional events such as the Running of the Chickens, Miss Buffalo Wing Pageant, the Ridiculously Hot Buffalo Wing Eating Contest, the Cheesiest Couple Contest and Bobbing for Wings. There will be a musical performance by the Food Network's Duff Goldman and his band Sand Ox and a rematch between rival eating champions Joey Chestnut and Sonya Thomas.

Noon to 9 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 3, and noon to 7 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 4, at Coca-Cola Field, 275 Washington St., Buffalo, N.Y. Admission is $5 per day; children 8 and younger admitted free. Call (716) 565-4141 or visit

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