Culture and Community

I attending the opening night of the Grant Park Music Festival Wednesday night in Millennium Park. I was so amazed at how many people were there. It was PACKED! The concert was fabulous with music by Tchaikovsky and Mussorgsky. It was heartwarming to see so many people and an indication of how important the arts are in nurturing the human spirit, especially in these difficult economic times. If you are a Chicagoan or just visiting, the summers here are rich with so many festivals. Here is a sampling of what is coming up this weekend....enjoy!

FREE SummerDance, Jun 11–Aug 23 Grant Park, Spirit of Music Garden, 601 S Michigan Ave. Thu, Fri, Sat 6–9:30pm; Sun 4–7pm. Organized by the Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs, this series of outdoor dances features a variety of global sounds. Before each show, dance lessons are given by professional instructors.

FREE Chicago Blues Festival, Jun 12–14 Grant Park, Jackson Blvd at Columbus Dr ( 11am–9:30pm. Retro soulstress Sharon Jones headlines. Betty Levette, Pinetop Perkins and a host of locals also bring on the blues. The “Blues Capital of the World” honors guitarist Eddie C. Campbell’s 70th birthday.

FREE Fiesta Back of the Yards, Jun 12–14 47th St between Ashland and Damen Aves ( Fri 5–10pm, Sat 10am–10pm, Sun noon–10pm. The Latino community throws a huge heritage bash, complete with live bands, cultural performances, children’s entertainment and around 100 vendors.

Party at St. Mike’s, Jun 12–14 St. Michael’s Church, 1633 N Cleveland Ave ( Fri 5–10pm, Sat 4–10pm, Sun noon–8pm; $10, three-day pass $15. The quiet streets around the Catholic church will be replaced with loud rock and roots bands.

FREE Pride of the Fox RiverFest, Jun 12–14 Along the banks of the Fox River, on Illinois Rte 64, St. Charles ( Fri, Sat 11am–11pm; Sun 11am–10pm. Try duck racing and other waterside activities at this river-themed bonanza.

Ribfest Chicago, Jun 12–14 Lincoln Ave at Irving Park Rd ( Fri 5–10pm; Sat, Sun noon–10pm; $5. If you are looking to start a heated argument, ask, “Who serves the best ribs?” This topic is as hot as the grills and sauces at this fest. Check out live local bands on Friday.

Humboldt Park Art Fair, Jun 13 Humboldt Park Boathouse, 1359 N Sacramento Blvd (773-319-3112, 10am–9pm. Graffiti Zone, a nonprofit community art studio, organizes its third annual festival devoted to music, visual art, poetry and film.

* Andersonville Midsommarfest, Jun 13, 14 5200–5450 N Clark St ( 11am–10pm, $5. This fest’s a Swede deal: Andersonville celebrates its Swedish heritage (and its gay and lesbian newcomers) with two days of Nordic food and performers.

FREE City Wilds Festival, Jun 13, 14 North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N Pulaski Rd ( 10am–3pm. Tour the 46-acre preserve, while learning how native plants attract wildlife. Also receive a lesson in worm composting.

Old Town Art Fair, Jun 13, 14 Between Menomonee and Wisconsin Sts, from Lincoln Park W to Sedgwick St ( 10am–6pm; $7, kids 12 and under free. Celebrating its 60th year, the fair welcomes nearly 260 exhibitors, and includes a children’s corner and a self-guided garden walk.

Wells Street Art Festival, Jun 13, 14 Wells St between North Ave and Division St ( 10am–10pm, $7–10. More than 300 fine artists feature their work in the prestigious art fair. Would-be buyers, food vendors and a silent auction round out the entertainment.

A complete listing for the summer in Time Out can be found here.