Watch some Hoosiers blow off steam at the annual Hesston Steam and Power Show 10-5 today through Monday. Logs will be hoisted (by a 92-ton locomotive steam crane), grain will be threshed (by a 1928 Advance Rumely machine), and electric lights will be powered (by a 350 HP Allis-Chalmers Corliss engine). Worn-out nostalgia buffs can ride one of three live-steam trains through the Hesston Steam Museum's 155 acres. Admission is $2 for adults ($1 for seniors on Friday) and free for children under 12. To get there take I-94 or the Indiana Toll Road to Route 39, then take La Porte County Road 1000 N. east for 2.5 miles. Call 219-872-7405 or 219-778-2783.
Classical guitarist Christopher Parkening, whom Andres Segovia called "one of the most brilliant guitarists in the world," plays selections by Granados, Torroba, and Sanz as well as Bach and Mozart, at 8 tonight in the Murray Theatre at Ravinia, Green Bay Road half a mile north of Lake Cook, in Highland Park. Lawn seating is $5, $25 for the theater; 728-4642 for more information.
Men shot! Townsfolk appalled! Banks blown up! Jesse James's Northfield, Minnesota, bank raid will be reenacted today through Monday at the Seven Acres Antique Village and Museum in Union, Illinois. The bloodthirsty will be sorry to learn that both Frank and Jesse survived--Frank to the ripe old age of 72, quietly dying in the same room in which he was born. But explosions and the death agonies of other gang members can be seen at 1 and 3 each day at the intersection of Route 20 and South Union Road, 55 miles northwest of Chicago (take the Northwest Tollway to the Marengo exit). $6 for adults and $2.25 for children over five (under, they're free). 815-923-2214.
Prefer something a little more restful for your Labor Day weekend? You can listen to whales sing at the Shedd Aquarium today through Monday. They have been captured (on film) in The Undersea World of Jacques Consteau: The Singing Whale, to be shown hourly beginning at 10:30 AM. The aquarium, 1200 S. Lake Shore Drive, is open 9-5; the film is free but museum admission is $2 for adults, $1 for children 6-17, and 50 cents for seniors; 939-2438.
Thoroughbreds of the terrapin variety are invited to participate in the Hyatt Regency's eighth annual Midwest Turtle Swim in the 4,000-square-foot "lagoon" in the hotel's lobby at 151 E. Wacker. The competition is a benefit for the Chicago Herpetological Society, so the $1 entry fee goes to a worthy cause; first place takes $100 in prize money. Register your charger at 11 AM; snapping turtles and hares are not welcome. Call 751-2121 to preregister or for more information.
Some people prefer short books--like those under three inches tall. Microbibliophiles should head for the Miniature Book Fair, where miniature-book publishers and dealers will display and offer for sale their cute little wares, many less than an inch tall and complete with illustrations and leather covers. Today only, noon till 5 PM at the North Shore Hilton, 9599 Skokie Boulevard in Skokie. Nonmembers of the Miniature Book Society will be charged a $2 admission; call 475-3241 for information.
Ultramarathoner George J. Cheung took ten years, but he finally completed his "global effort"--running a total of 25,000 miles, which equals the circumference of the globe--and plans to celebrate it today with a party, Cheung's Great Run Around. Those who've also completed 25,000 miles (and others) are invited to the Junk Restaurant, 2143 S. Archer, noon to 4 PM. (A 2.5-mile fun-run will begin at 11 AM.) Adults $10, children 12 and under $5; 326-3311 or 944-6667.
A series of architecture tours by bike sponsored by the Chicago Architecture Foundation begins today in Oak Park, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright sites among others. Participants will meet, with bikes, at the Unity Temple, Lake Street and Kenilworth in Oak Park, at 2 PM; $4, $2 for seniors and students. Call 326-1393 for details. Future guided rides will cover Riverside, Lake Forest, and Lincoln Park.
Hardly anybody has to work today, so trot on over to Riis Park, 6100 W. Fullerton, for an AIDS Prevention Fun Run, the proceeds of which will benefit the Howard Brown Memorial Clinic. The entry fee for the two- and five-mile runs, which begin at 9 AM, and the one-mile walk at 11, is $12. Call 794-3144 for more.
If you're up for some gritty truths, try the work of photojournalists opening today in two new exhibitions at Columbia College's Museum of Contemporary Photography. Pictures by five photographers explore such subjects as carnival strippers, cancer, life in an emergency room, and the people who visit and live in Las Vegas. This and Other Worlds and Vegas continue through October 10 at 600 S. Michigan. Hours are Monday through Friday 10-5 PM and Saturday 12-5. Free; 663-5554.
The Chicago Area AIDS Task Force holds its regular monthly meeting today at 3 PM; the subject for its panel discussion will be AIDS in the Black Community. An informal discussion will follow. The location is the Red Cross, 43 E. Ohio, on the second floor. For info call 467-6370.
If you think you can tolerate a two-hour severance from reality, those two preserves of fantasy--fashion and the movies--converge this evening at Charles A. Stevens's Cinema Chicago fall fashion show, 5:30-7:30 at the Palmer House. The $15 ticket covers wine and hors d'oeuvres, a store discount check, and a chance to win the grand prize: a day as an extra in a Chicago movie or TV production and a year's worth of movie tickets. 630-1500, ext. 2858, for tickets.
Basically Bach attempts to perform baroque music in a "historically informed manner," that is, trying to stay true to the intentions of the composer by using instruments and performance practices of the period: baroque brasses without valves, stringed instruments strung with gut as opposed to steel or steel-wound gut, producing a sweeter, softer sound, and winds that are made of wood and have fewer keys than modern instruments. According to them, lying on the couch with a good Brandenburg Concerto is just as effective as psychotherapy and a lot less expensive. Various soloists will join Basically Bach's 25-member chorus for their season opener, Bach's Mass in B Minor, 8 tonight and Saturday at the First Congregational Church, Hinman and Grove in Evanston. Reserved seats are $20, $16 for general admission. Performances also take place 8 PM Friday at the Cathedral of Saint James, 65 E. Huron, and 7:30 PM Sunday at the First United Church, 848 Lake St. in Oak Park. For info or reservations call 508-0635.
"Each year, more than 40,000 square miles of tropical forest are destroyed--an area about the size of West Virginia," says Thomas Antonio of the Chicago Botanic Garden. But you can down some tropical refreshments and save a tree at the same time at the Botanic Garden's benefit to aid tropical forests tonight. Afterward the Field Museum's William Burger will give a presentation, "Where Clouds and Mountains Collide: The Magnificent Forests of Costa Rica," at the garden's education center. 7:30-9:30, on Lake Cook Road east of Edens. Minimum donation is $20; 835-5440 for information.
Fans of the soaps have long realized medicine's innate drama. But General Hospital never had Oliver Sacks as a writer, and now City Lit Theater brings to the boards his book Awakenings, about sleeping-sickness patients brought back to consciousness after 40 years. Their version of these remarkable tales opens tonight at 8 at the Raven Theatre, 6931 N. Clark, to continue through October 18. Tickets are $8-$12; 271-1100 to reserve.