Art full of soul
Bucktown Arts Fest may have started as a small gathering of local artisans, but now in its 29th year, it's a premier collection of painters, sculptors, photographers, craftspeople, jewelry makers, musicians, actors, poets and dancers. That it takes place in what is now considered one of the hippest neighborhoods in Chicago is an added bonus. There's a food court and beer vendors, but you might want to take the opportunity to try some of the neighborhood's charming restaurants, too.
11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24, at Senior Citizens Memorial Park, 2238 N. Oakley Ave., Chicago. Free admission. bucktownarts fest.com.
May we have this dance?
Chicago is a city of many superlatives, including the fact that it hosts the nation's largest free dance festival. The eighth annual Chicago Dancing Festival, taking place at venues around downtown, features three world premieres and top ballet, modern and hip-hop dancers from the city and across the country. Don't miss dancers of The Juilliard School, the Martha Graham Dance Company, New York City Ballet, Washington Ballet and Chicago's own The Joffrey Ballet. All Chicago Dancing Festival performances are free, but indoor shows require tickets.
7:30 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 20, and Saturday, Aug. 23; 6 and 8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, at venues including the Harris Theater for Music and Dance, the Museum of Contemporary Art, and the Jay Pritzker Pavilion in Millennium Park. chicagodancing festival.com.
Chicago Fashion Fest, now in its sixth season, attracts fashionistas, families and fest-lovers for two days of nonstop local fashion, live music and entertainment. Chicago Fashion Fest 2014 has paired with Chicago's inaugural New Orleans Festival, making Wicker Park a hub for fashion and shopping with Big Easy music and food. There will be a massive, runway stage where models strut their stuff wearing the latest fashions. Visit "Shopper's Row," home to up to 50 exclusive booths of local fashion designers, boutiques and salons from the neighborhood; a dedicated kiddie fest area; and a Doggie Fashion Show and Dog Fest with activities, vendors and treats.
Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 23-24, on Division Street from Damen to Paulina, Chicago. $5 entry donation. The full runway schedule is at chicagofashionfest.com.
Pickin' and grinnin'
Suburbia may have paved over most farms and orchards, but the opportunities for family fun picking apples still exist in McHenry County. In fact, ripe berries and apples await you in eight farms clustered around Woodstock. Early season apples start coming in mid-August and continue through October or November. Farms include All Seasons Orchard, Grace Farm Studios, Knoll's Apple Orchard and Vegetable Farm, Lang's Orchard, Heider's Berry Farm, Homestead Orchard, Meadowmoor Orchard, Woodstock Country Orchard and More Than Delicious Orchard, all in Woodstock; Royal Oak Farm Orchard in Harvard; and Union's Prairie Sky Orchard.
Through October, weather-permitting. For information on lodging, dining and shopping, call (888) 363-6177 or go to VisitMcHenryCounty.com.
Calling itself the fudge capital of the world, Mackinac Island beckons with its Fudge Festival and fudge-related events and activities. Watch fudge-making demonstrations; The Great Turtle Slow Ride (bikers test their balance by trying to finish last in a slow race event); fudge-inspired dinners and cocktails; The Pioneer Sugar Sack Relay Race; Mackinac Island Fudge Beer Tasting; and a contest where six people will win free overnight vacations to Mackinac Island.
3 to 9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22; 1 to 9 p.m. Saturday, Aug, 23; and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 24. Find a full schedule at MackinacIsland.org or call Mackinac Island Tourism at (906) 847-3783.
An a-peeling festival
Whether you prefer them French-fried, smashed, baked or covered in cheese, spuds are the stars of Potato Days in Barnesville, Minnesota. One of the best potato-producing areas in the country, Barnesville offers bushels of activities. Watch or enter the Potato Picking or Peeling Contests or the fine art of Mashed Potato Sculpting. Belly up to the smorgasbord, which includes lefse, potato dumplings, potato sausage, baked potatoes, potato pancakes and potato soup. Keep your eyes peeled for the big parade, potato car races and folks milling about in potato sack outfits.
9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug 22, and 7 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, in downtown Barnesville, Minnesota. Admission is free. (800) 525-4901 or potatodays.com.