The International Exposition of Contemporary and Modern Art, also known as EXPO Chicago, returns to Navy Pier with 135 galleries from 25 countries exhibiting global contemporary art. Not only can you experience spectacular installations in festival hall, but also there are interactive activities including films, pop-up book shops, booth talks, guided tours, book signings and live performances from the sublime to the wild. Don't miss the collaboration between renowned contemporary artist Nick Cave and internationally acclaimed architect Jeanne Gang for "Here Hear Chicago," a new work that incorporates art, design and performance. Chicago culinary marketplace Eataly creates a special menu for guests on the main exposition floor and in the Northern Trust VIP Collector's Lounge, too. 6 to 9 p.m. Wednesday, Sept. 13; 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 14-16; and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Chicago. Tickets are $20 or $40 for a four-day pass. expochicago.com/.
Hungry to help?
In honor of Feeding America's National Hunger Action Month, Pheasant Run Resort is offering two great ways for you to help solve hunger. During September, try signature Solve Hunger dishes like the roasted prime rib ($26) at Harvest and the blackened shrimp and salmon duet ($23) at Jambalaya and 10 percent of the cost will be donated to Northern Illinois Food Bank. Select the overnight Solve Hunger Package and receive a $25 voucher for any of the resort's dining outlets. Pheasant Run will match that with a $25 donation to the food bank. A $25 donation can provide $200 worth of groceries for a family in need. Throughout September at Pheasant Run Resort, 4051 E. Main St., St. Charles. Based upon availability, the package rates begin at $129 plus applicable fees and taxes. (800) 474-3272 or pheasantrun.com/.
Pumpkin cinnamon lattes? Pshaw! Squash rules during the Pumpkin Festival in Morton, Illinois. Check out the pumpkin recipe challenge, pumpkin bingo, pie-eating contest, pumpkin weigh-off, the pumpkin grille offering pumpkin ice cream, pancakes, chili, doughnuts and fudge and the colossal orange parade. Don't miss the bike tour, run and walk, Pumpkin Princess pageant, craft faire, and music from the Joe Stamm Band at 7 p.m. Thursday, Semple at 7:30 p.m. Friday, Die Spitzbaum at 7 p.m. Saturday and more. Morton, located eight miles east of downtown Peoria, is home of the Libby's pumpkin-packing plant and calls itself the Pumpkin Capital of the World. Starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 9; 9 a.m. Sunday through Wednesday, Sept. 10-13; and 6:30 a.m. Thursday through Saturday, Sept. 14-16, in downtown Morton, Ill. Fest closing times vary. mortonpumpkinfestival.org/.
After a couple of weeks in school, give the kids a reason to cheer: a return to the Wisconsin Dells for Wo-Zha-Wa Days, which translates to "time of fun" in the Ho-Chunk language. It's three days of live music plus a street carnival, arts and crafts, Maxwell Street Days, food vendors, an antique flea market and a 100-unit parade at 1:30 p.m. Sunday. The Dells in fall offers fantastic weather, smaller crowds, better hotel rates, and the kids can still pretend it's summer while in a balmy indoor water park. 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Sept. 15-16, and 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 17, in downtown Wisconsin Dells and Bowman Park, Wisconsin. wisdells.com/wozhawa.htm.
Dust off the dirndls
Gemuetlichkeit means friendliness and you're sure to find it in Jefferson, Wisconsin (located between Madison and Milwaukee), during the 47th annual Gemuetlichkeit Days. Sure, you can nosh on brats, Bavarian burgers and Black Forest cake, but if you're brave, there's also a sauerkraut-eating challenge. Other contests include Nagelspielen, where you test your skills pounding nails into a log while holding a drink in your other hand, costume contests and facial hair contests (Best Beard, Best Mustache and Best Sideburns). Plus, there's a vintage car show, live polka music and a parade at noon Sunday. Friday through Sunday, Sept. 15-17, in Jefferson County Fair Park, 503 N. Jackson Ave., Jefferson, Wisconsin. gdays.org/.
Worth the trip
Yellowstone Forever, the official education and fundraising partner of the National Park Service in Yellowstone National Park, has opened registration for its winter programs. Expert instructors will lead multiday seminars that explore in-depth a single topic such as human history, photography, Native American culture or wildlife. Many programs are based at the Lamar Buffalo Ranch, where students stay in cabins. Lamar also has a heated bathhouse with private showers and bathrooms, as well as a community building used for classrooms and cooking. Other programs are held at Yellowstone Forever's Overlook Field Campus. Dates and prices vary. The nightly rate for a shared cabin at Lamar Buffalo Ranch is $37. To register and for details, see shop.yellowstone.org/courses/field-seminars.