Ancient Chinese secret for a day of fun
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Have the family immersed in another culture, minus the 15-hour flight and expense, at Chicago's 34th annual Chinatown Summer Fair. The neighborhood festival features a Lion Dance procession plus Asian cultural entertainment from music to dance. Have a taste of Chinatown's many restaurants along with browsing the gift shops, the arts and crafts exhibits and the children's area during the daylong family event.
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at Wentworth Avenue and Cermak Road, Chicago. Free admission. (773) 868-3010 or www.chicagodragons.com.
Food lovers can sample like crazy at the 12th annual Taste of River North. There will be American, Mexican, Italian, deli and other items to taste while listening to tunes by Sixteen Candles, Rock Candy, The Sheepdogs and Dr. Kervorkian and The Volunteers. Participating restaurants include American Junkie, Flemings Prime Steakhouse, Moe's Cantina, Kinzie Chophouse, The Melting Pot and others. Bring the little foodies for a Kid Zone along the riverfront.
5 to 10 p.m. Friday, July 19; noon to 10 p.m. Saturday, July 20; and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at Montgomery Ward Park, 630 N. Kingsbury St., Chicago, $5 suggested donation. (312) 742-7895 or www.tasterivernorth.com
It's all about family
When in Milwaukee, do as the Italians do and celebrate La Famiglia at the annual Festa Italiana. Test your bocce ball skills, try crooning on the Italian Idol stage, watch the Pinocchio parade and let the kids enjoy their own activities and entertainment. Entertainment ranges from opera and jazz to accordionists and doo wop singers. Foodies should find their fix at cooking demos at the Cucina and a variety of restaurants offering sausage, pizza, arancini, eggplant, Italian beef, pasta, calamari, fresh clams and meatball sandwiches. Finish with Italian ice, a glass of wine, an espresso and a stroll along Lake Michigan.
11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday, July 19-20, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday, July 21, at Henry W. Maier Festival Park (Summerfest grounds), Milwaukee. Tickets cost $13 per day, $25 for a three-day pass, free for kids 12 and younger. (414) 223-2805 or www.FestaItaliana.com.
Oregon, Ill., on the Rock River just south of Rockford, celebrates its heritage during its fourth annual Oregon Trail Days. Activities include a Native American encampment, cowboy and frontier acts, including a medicine show, gun slinging and rope tricks, children's crafts and covered-wagon rides. It's the largest gathering of tepees east of the Mississippi River and you can spend the night in an authentic one. See mountain men demonstrations, American Indian dance circles, Blackhawk performance groups, live demonstrations in flint napping, nettle weaving and beading. Visitors can browse the American Indian trading post as well as vendors with artifacts, jewelry, clothing and art.
Festival activities from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 20-21. Tepee overnights Thursday through Monday, July 18-22, in downtown Oregon and Lowden State Park. Admission is $6 per person and free for kids 6 and younger. Tepees cost $79 per night and sleep up to four. (815) 238-8672 or www.oregontraildays.org.
The answer is blowin' in the wind
Where have all the flowers gone? They're in Woodstock for its 28th annual Folk Festival. The outdoor main stage on the historic square features contemporary acoustic performers, folk circuit mainstays and plenty of bluegrass, Americana and country tunes. Performers include Judith Avers, Brother Sun, Emily Elbert, Donna Herula, Red Tail Ring and Sultans of String. Bring your guitar for a hands-on, interactive workshop. There also will be an open-mic session. The kids' area will be full of music and activities.
12:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 21, in Woodstock. Suggested donation is $15 per person, $25 for a family and $10 for seniors and students. (815) 479-4848 or www.woodstockfolkmusic.com/folkfestival.