Rhapsodic about all things Nordic
Nordic Fest celebrates its anniversary -- "Return to the Nest for the 46th Fest" -- with food, traditional crafts, a parade, live entertainment and dancing, sporting events and Saturday night fireworks display. There will be street dances Friday and Saturday nights, and don't miss the Bunad show, featuring ethnic costumes from all regions of Norway. There also will be a bald eagle display and petting zoo, and adults should enjoy a variety of foods. There will be food demonstrations and tasting opportunities, and you can watch expert artisans craft Nordic trinkets.
6:45 to 11 p.m. Thursday, July 26; 11 a.m. to midnight, Friday, July 27; and 10:30 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, July 28, in downtown Decorah, Iowa. Free admission. (800) 382-3378 or nordicfest.com.
Pierogi Fest, the three-day celebration of Eastern European dumplings and the hardworking ancestors who rolled and filled them, draws nearly 200,000 visitors every year to Whiting, Ind. Meet Ms. Paczki (the sweet pastry gal), the Halupki Guy (stuffed cabbage dude) and, of course, Mr. Pierogi himself. Don't miss the Polka Parade featuring the lawnmower brigade along with the Babushka Brigade. Three stages of nonstop entertainment include the Hoosier Grandpas, Joe Walinga & the Happy Hearts, Danny Donuts and Polkahontas. There will be a beer garden and more than 35 food vendors.
11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday, July 27--28; and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, July 29. pierogifest.net/
You don't have to drive to the north woods to get a Taste of Wisconsin; just head to nearby Kenosha. The free harbor front festival features locally produced specialties as well as cooking demonstrations, gardening workshops and music on three stages. Cheese takes a starring role at the festival with 50 food and beverage vendors lining the promenade along Kenosha's lakeshore. There will be 60 live bands on four stages, culinary demonstrations, cookbook signings and family-friendly activities.
3 to 11 p.m. Friday, July 27; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, July 28; and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday, July 29, at Celebration Place on Ring Road in downtown Kenosha. Admission is free. (800) 654-7309, ext. 11, or tasteofwi.com
Shining for 40 years
The streets of Pilsner sizzle when Fiesta del Sol puts up its tents filled with live music, wares and authentic Mexican food. Celebrating its 40th year in 2012, Fiesta del Sol started as a one-block festival, and today it's one of the largest Midwest festivals of its kind with more than 1 million revelers expected to attend. Bring the kids for their own activities in the children's area, browse the art pavilion and take all kinds of entertainment and sports tournaments.
5 to 10 p.m. Thursday, July 26; 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday to Saturday, July 27-28; and 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, July 29. Cermak Road between Morgan and Ashland avenues, Chicago. Free admission. (312) 666-2663 or fiestadelsol.org.
Land of Lincoln
The Taste of Lincoln Avenue celebrates its 29th year as one of the city's largest neighborhood festivals covering six blocks and all the bases in terms of food and tunes. Expect around 300 vendors and more than 40 regional and local bands on five entertainment stages along with a city block devoted to children's entertainment. There will be a kids carnival featuring pony rides, a petting zoo, inflatable slide, moonwalk, face painting, games and prizes and a stage for live entertainment, from singers to magicians and puppeteers.
Noon to 10 p.m., Saturday to Sunday, July 28-29, on Lincoln Avenue between Fullerton and Wrightwood avenues, Chicago. Admission is $10. (773) 868-3010 or chicagoevents.com.
There are walking tours, Segway trips, taxi rides, the el and other ways to tour the city, but the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile offers a cooler mode of transport during the heat of the season. Now you can paddle down the Chicago River and through Lake Michigan as the Chicago hotel partners with Wateriders Kayaks for a new "On the Water" package. Choose from an array of tours, including the Gangster and Fireworks tours or up to three hours of sightseeing on the Chicago River.
Available through Oct. 1, at InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile, 505 N. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Package starts at $22, based on double occupancy and availability. (312) 944-4100 or intercontinental.com.