Hand over the chocolate
Chocoholics descend upon Chicago's Navy Pier for The Chicago Fine Chocolate & Dessert Show, a celebration of all things chocolate. What's your pleasure? Hand-painted artisan bars, uniquely flavored truffles, chocolate cupcakes, tarts or mousses? Visit the French Pastry School's Demonstration Stage and Chocolate Art Gallery and see stunning edible art from master bakers and cake decorators. You can't miss the live cupcake competition or the 1,000-pound chocolate life-size replica of the iconic Chicago Blues Brothers. Stop in the Beer, Wine, and Spirits Pairings Pavilion to learn about fine chocolate's various beverage pairings. Plus, Restaurant Row offers bites filled with local culinary flavors.
3 to 8 p.m. Friday, Oct. 18; 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19; and 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 20, at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Tickets cost $25 if purchased online or $30 at the show. chicagochocolatefestival.com.
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Ready for your close-up?
Treat the film fan in your life to the Movie Lovers' package at the JW Marriott, the headquarter hotel of the 49th Chicago International Film Festival, which runs now through Oct. 24. The hotel's package includes two passes for the festival's array of films; luxe overnight accommodations; two film-inspired cocktails in the Lobby Lounge; and artisan popcorn, Vosges Artisan Chocolate Bars and two all-natural sodas.
The JW Marriott Chicago is located at 151 W. Adams St. Rates begin at $344. Call (312) 660-8200 to reserve.
Project Chicago runway
The 9th Annual Fashion Focus: Chicago's Fashion Week brings the hottest looks to Millennium Park and venues throughout the city for five days of runway shows, strutting cutting-edge designs from emerging artists, shopping events and previews of designers' latest collections for spring 2014. The celebration of Chicago's fashion industry (yes, we have one, Heidi Klum) offers three free runway shows in Millennium Park; a free menswear event with local, national and international menswear designers; and a designer shopping event showcasing more than 30 of Chicago's best apparel, jewelry and accessory designers.
Various venues and times Oct. 15-20 in Chicago. Go to fashionfocuschicago.org to reserve your ticket to one of the free runway shows at Millennium Park.
Happy trails to you
Are the kids' eyes glazing over their history books this early in the school year? Enliven their curiosity about the past during the McHenry County Conservation District's 25th and final Trail of History. It's hands-on, interactive living history taking visitors back to the old Northwest Territory between the years 1670 to 1850. Walk a one-mile trail, meeting in-character guides along the way, until arriving at a large encampment where you can see, smell and taste pioneer life through scores of re-enactors: French fur traders hollowing out birch bark canoes; military types going over tactics of the French-Indian War; and Revolutionary War doctors and dentists showing off their equipment. Kids can play pioneer games, dress up in frontier-style costumes, and do some chores like beating rugs and hauling water. Sample a buffalo burger, homemade chowder, kettle corn and a cool root beer while enjoying musicians, medicine shows and fortune tellers.
9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20, at Glacial Park, Route 31 and Harts Road, Ringwood. Tickets cost $8 for adults, $4 for seniors (60 and older) and kids 6-12. (815) 479-5779 or mccdistrict.org.
Gnus and boos at Brookfield Zoo
You can't get scarier creatures than naked mole rats, behemoth rhinos, tarantulas. scorpions and hundreds of bats all waiting at Brookfield Zoo's annual Boo! at the Zoo. The Halloween celebration offers plenty of family action including a corn maze, special Zoo Chats about furtive creatures, haunted hayrides, pumpkin-carving demonstrations, and a costume parade and contest. Watch the gourd smasher guy pummel pumpkins and see a pro pumpkin carver create masterpieces out of massive pumpkins.
11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 19-20 and 26-27, at Brookfield Zoo, 3300 Golf Road, Brookfield. Admission is $15 for adults, $10.50 for children ages 3-11 and seniors 65 and older. Parking is $10. CZS.org/Events or (708) 688-8000.
Drive through the art land
It's nearly time for the popular Fall Art Tour in Wisconsin, a once-per-year tour that includes artists at more than 50 studios between Mineral Point, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Baraboo. During the three-day tour, visit artists in their studios as they demonstrate and sell their work, many open only for this event. Meet painters, sculptors, potters, weavers, jewelers, woodworkers and mixed-media artists. Drive through the autumn countryside and visit studios in restored breweries, one-room schoolhouses and historic storefronts.
10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday through Sunday, Oct. 18-20, in Baraboo, Spring Green, Dodgeville and Mineral Point, Wis. Free. Get a map, dining and lodging info at fallarttour.com.