Ancient Chinese secret for a day of summer fun
Have your family immersed in another culture at Chicago's Chinatown Summer Fair. The neighborhood festival features a colorful Lion Dance procession plus Asian cultural entertainment from music to dance as well as pony rides and a "cutest baby contest." Have a taste of Chinatown's many wonderful restaurants, and browse the unique gift shops. The daylong family event also features Chinese arts and crafts exhibits, a children's area, and street vendors with an array of merchandise.
10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, July 21, on Wentworth between Cermak Road and 24th Street, Chicago. Free; chinatownspecialevents.org.
Snag apparel and accessories from local designers and independent shops at the eighth annual Fashion Focus Chicago Sidewalk Sale. Purchase the coolest clothes by designers like Anastasia Chatzka; Anna Hovet; Blank Nation Apparel; Heidi Hess; Kelly King Collective and others. Boutiques include MADE IN CHICAGO Retail Store; M. GO Fashion Boutique; Michelle Tan; and Squasht by Les. Be there at noon either day for a runway show.
9 a.m. to 3 p.m. July 22-23. Daley Plaza, 50 W. Washington St., Chicago. Free. Get details at http://tinyurl.com/le6sx94.
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Visit more than 80 lush neighborhood gardens on a self-guided tour during the 46th annual Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival, frequently dubbed "Summer's Best Festival." In addition to the lovely gardens, take guided architectural tours and enjoy live entertainment by fine bands like the Freddy Jones Band and ZZ Ward. This year, the fest will partner with the third annual Chicago Craft Beer Festival, so there will be tented tasting areas where you can sample from more than 100 craft beers.
Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, July 19-20, on Sheffield between Webster and Fullerton in Chicago. Admission is $7; $10 after 3 p.m. Tickets for the Chicago Craft Beer Festival are $40-$45; sheffieldfestivals.org.
By the time you get to Woodstock
Where have all the flowers gone? They're in Woodstock, Illinois, for the 29th annual Folk Festival. The outdoor main stage features contemporary acoustic performers, folk circuit mainstays and plenty of bluegrass, Americana, country and Southern blues tunes. Hear Harpeth Rising, the Honey Dew Drops, Megon McDonough, Old Man Luedecke and others, or rally your nerve for the open mic session. The kids' area will be full of music and activities just for the little folkies. Bring chairs, blankets and picnic baskets, but leave your furry friends at home
12:30 to 6 p.m. Sunday, July 20, at Woodstock Square, Woodstock, Illinois. Entrance to the event is by donation. (815) 479-4848 or woodstockfolkmusic.com/folkfestival.
Michigan beach town's free concerts
St. Joseph, Michigan, showcases folk, rock, blues, jazz, bluegrass and classical music this summer during free concerts presented three times a week. All concerts are held at the scenic John E.N. Howard Band shell with views of the St. Joseph River, Lake Michigan, and the city's historic lighthouses. Seating is available or bring chairs and blankets for the grassy knoll. There's free parking within walking distance. Concertgoers also can enjoy free horse-drawn trolley rides through the Victorian-era downtown on Wednesdays and Sundays.
3:30 and 7:30 p.m. Sundays; noon Wednesday; 7:30 p.m. Fridays; now through Labor Day. John E.N. Howard Band Shell, downtown St. Joseph, Michigan. (269) 985-1111 or stjoetoday.com.
Perhaps you developed a sophisticated palate from your first spoonful of strained beets? Revisit your baby foodie days in the hometown of Gerber Products -- Fremont, Michigan -- during the 21st annual National Baby Food Festival. Watch the baby food cook-off, a real baby crawl, and relive your inebriated college days by dribbling food down your chin at the Adult Baby Food Eating Contest. Visit the Kid Zone with activities like frog jumping and turtle racing contests, bubble gum blowing, and hula-hoop contests; and don't miss Saturday's Grand Parade.
10 a.m. to 9 p.m., Wednesday, July 16; 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.; Thursday to Saturday, July 17-19. Main St., Fremont, Michigan. (800) 592-BABY or nbff.org.