On the road: Mashed potato wrestling? You bet.

  • There's no gravy required for mashed potato wrestling at Potato Days in Barnesville, Minn.

    There's no gravy required for mashed potato wrestling at Potato Days in Barnesville, Minn.

  • Maine Open Lighthouse Day opens many of the state's coastal, island and river lighthouses to the public.

    Maine Open Lighthouse Day opens many of the state's coastal, island and river lighthouses to the public.

Posted8/21/2011 5:45 AM


French fry feed, mashed-potato sculpting, potato pancake breakfast and mashed potato wrestling? It must be Potato Days in the central Minnesota town of Barnesville. The festival features a quilt show, pony rides and a dunk tank as well as spud-centric fun including potato peeling and eating contests, a potato cook-off, potato car races, and a Mr. and Mrs. Potato Head contest.


9 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday, Aug. 26, and 7 a.m. to midnight, Saturday, Aug. 27, in Barnesville, Minn. Call (800) 525-4901 or visit potatodays.com.


Shopping bag heroes

"In-Fashion: The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival" has lined up shops, boutiques and restaurants that will have special offers for shoppers along with 25 area hotels that will feature packages including welcome cocktails, restaurant offers, spa specials and free parking. Many locations also will provide exclusive perks such as cooking demonstrations and prix fixe menus at the Magnificent Mile's top restaurants.

Friday, Aug. 26, to Thursday, Sept. 8. Visit themagnificentmile.com.

Socrates approved

Make like Zorba and live for fun, food and dancing at Taste of Greece held in Chicago's own Greektown neighborhood. Kids can unwind in a bouncy house, while parents browse crafts and goods from the Greek Isles. Festival goers will also be able to watch belly dancers and enjoy plenty of live music and food.

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Noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 27-28, on Halsted Street, between Van Buren Street and Monroe Avenue, Chicago. Call (847) 509-8050 or visit greektownchicago.org.

Fishing for a final summer escape?

Experience the wet and wild wonders of the Shedd Aquarium with the new Aquarium Escape! Package from the Blackstone. Vacation with the fishes and you'll get overnight accommodations, complimentary upgrade to a "view room" and two VIP nontimed/nondated tickets to the Shedd Aquarium. Another perk? The hotel is within easy walking distance to the Shedd.

Package valid through Dec. 31 at the hotel, 636 S. Michigan Ave., Chicago. Prices start at $179 per room, per night. Call (800) 468-3571 or visit blackstonerenaissance.com.


Mexican fiesta

Three days of fun, food and celebration awaits as the Mexican Fiesta rolls into Milwaukee's Summer Fest grounds. The event honors culture, tradition and family through Mexico's rich history, art, music and food. The festival will feature a Cultural Village and artisans displaying their artwork and merchandise. Expect lots of entertainment from Latin America, colorful folkloric dancers, cultural exhibits and authentic Mexican cuisine.


Noon to midnight Friday to Sunday, Aug. 26-28, at Henry W. Maier Festival Park in Milwaukee. Adult presale tickets online are $11, $1 for children 3-10 and kids younger than 3 admitted free with a paying adult. Call (414) 383-7066 or visit mexicanfiesta.org.

Pickin' and grinnin'

More than 600 musicians will perform on 10 stages in northwest Iowa's National Old Time Country Bluegrass Festival. The largest gathering of acoustic country, folk and bluegrass music west of the Mississippi features international performers, contests for nonprofessional musicians, celebrities to be inducted into America's Old Time Country Music Hall of Fame, a concert series, storytelling, and arts and crafts.

9 a.m. to midnight Monday to Sunday, Aug. 29-Sept. 4, at Plymouth County Fairgrounds in LeMars, Iowa. One-day admission for adults is $15 and anyone younger than 18 will be admitted free; seven-day pass: $60. Call (712) 762-4363 or visit strumming at ntcma.net.

Worth the trip

Get your fill of lighthouses at the third annual Maine Open Lighthouse Day when many of the state's coastal, island and river lighthouses welcome the public. Nearly 20,000 seekers are expected to visit 25 open light stations and many people opt to climb up light towers for a lantern room view. The seaside experience includes guided or self-guided tours of keeper's houses and light towers and various activities.

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 17. Visit lighthouseday.com.