Tonight the Lincoln Park Zoological Society is creating a north-side pied-a-terre for farm denizens both animal and vegetable. Members of the society (including those who join today) are welcome to come and watch as corn is roasted, goats are milked, horses are shod, and butter is churned, all starting at 6 PM. And that's not all: tractors can be ridden, banjos will be plucked, and squares will be, er, danced, as the society's annual Country Picnic proceeds. The hoedown is free to members and their guests; memberships cost $25 for individuals, $35 for families--though an individual can bring his or her farm-loving family as guests, if he or she wants to. Get reservations and information at 935-6700. The zoo is at 1800 N. Stockton in Lincoln Park.
Outsider artist Lee Godie, sculptor Lincoln Schatz, and T.D. Burton and Rodney Carswell are 4 of the 50 contributors (all Chicago artists) to tonight's silent art auction to benefit the homeless. The various works will be displayed with blank sheets of paper alongside and you make your bid by scrawling your price on the paper. Proceeds go to the Illinois Coalition for the Homeless. The auction runs from 7 to 10 at the Randolph Street Gallery, 756 N. Milwaukee; final bids are at 9:30. Admission is ten bucks, and everything sold is cash-and-carry. Call 435-4548.
Sometimes a person has something to say and the sidewalk is the only place that's just right to say it. If such sentiments strike a familiar note, hie yourself down to the third annual Dreamerz Sidewalk Coloring Contest. Dreamerz is a punk bar in the early morning hours but hosts this yearly afternoon art event as well. Materials? Anything that's water soluble--chalks, pastels, even clay. $600 in prizes are available, to be awarded in adult and under-16 categories; first place winners get $200 and $150, respectively. Dreamerz is at 1516 N. Milwaukee; the contest starts at 1 PM. It's free. Call 252-1155 or 276-1568 for more information.
Apocalypse Now's vision of the Vietnam war was set to the strains of the Doors' "The End" and Good Morning, Vietnam's to "Nowhere to Run," Grand Guignol conceptions both. But war-era music has a more personal side as well, one that gets lost in the bombs and horror that the new generation of filmic war historians is giving us. In Country: Soldiers' Songs From Vietnam will feature seven product-of-war songwriters. The show, at 7:30 tonight at the Old Town School of Folk Music, is a project of the Vietnam Veterans Oral History and Folklore Project at Buffalo State University; the performers, all vets, are James "Bull" Durham, Saul Broudy, Chuck Rosenberg, Bill Ellis, Dick Jonas, Toby Hughes, and Chip Dockery. The school is at 909 W. Armitage; tickets are $12, $10 for Old Town School members, and $8 for seniors and children. Call 525-7793 for more information.
Spiders--like Arabs, Deadheads, and Dan Quayle--just can't seem to get a break in the media. Years of strong PR work can be invested, and then along comes a movie like Arachnophobia. The city Department of General Services, undaunted, is presenting a Sunrise Spider Walk this morning at 6. (It's easier to see spider webs when the morning dew glistens on them.) The walk will be led by Dan Joyce, at the North Park Village Nature Center, 5801 N. Pulaski. The walk is free, and coffee will be served at its conclusion (which seems backward given the starting time). They'd like you to register in advance; call 583-8970 to do so or get more information.
Think Global, Dance Local is what Neighbor to Neighbor, the Statewide Housing Coalition, and the Equator Club are calling their six-hour dance party tonight. Four dance bands will provide the music: Rafo International, a Haitian soca-reggae-ish ensemble; the Balkan Rhythm Band; Brazil Samba Culture Action; and Yves Francois, a French guy who plays jazzy stuff. Tickets are $10 in advance, $12 at the door; the Equator Club is at 4715 N. Broadway and opens at 6. Call 772-7782 or 939-6074.
With his most famous typefaces, Chicago artist-teacher-typographer Ernst Detterer honored two rather different institutions. Eusebius, a Venetian-styled typeface, was named after the church historian and based on the type style of a 1472 edition of his work. The other, Newberry Detterer, was a nod to the Chicago library where Detterer worked during the last 16 years of his life, until his death in 1947. More than 200 artifacts from Detterer's life make up Ernst Detterer: Educator and Typographer, opening at the Newberry Library's Hermon Dunlap Smith Gallery today and running through October 6. It's free. The library, at 60 W. Walton, is open 9 to 5 Monday, Friday, and Saturday, and 9 to 7:30 Tuesday through Thursday. Call 943-9090, ext. 310.
"You turn down a familiar street / And who is there rearranging the height / Of curbs, the position of streetlamps, / And not dressed for winter?" So begins "Degas Invented Her" by Chicago poet Arthur Miller, the opening poem of the new season of Dial-a-Poem, Chicago! The free program has logged 180,000 calls, not counting wrong numbers, since its inception nine years ago. "Degas Invented Her" runs through next Monday; then comes Poem for Osaka award winner Patricia Smith's "The Awakening." The number is 346-3478.
The original H.M.S. Rose was a massive wooden ship that got into all sorts of trouble in the last half of the 18th century. She fought bravely in the Seven Years' War, took part in the capture of Havana and Martinique in 1761, and later helped eliminate smuggling in Newport, Rhode Island, in the process causing four-fifths of the city's residents to lose their jobs. The Rose sank in 1779, but a full-scale replica, currently the largest wooden sailing ship in the world, hits town today for a weeklong visit. It'll be sitting in the Chicago River just east of the Michigan Avenue bridge. You can get to the Rose via the steps at the southeast corner of bridge and river. Tours go from 10 AM to 5 PM through Tuesday; they're $4 for adults, $3 for children. Call 616-1001 for info.
Morrie Mages started out with a pushcart and ended up with one of the world's largest sporting goods stores. Dedication ceremonies for the Morrie Mages Playground in Lincoln Park start at 1 PM today, complete with wet cement for kids to put handprints in, the Jesse White Tumblers, music, food, and celebrities--Bears QB Bobby Douglass will be there, along with WGN sportscasters Chuck Swirsky, Wayne Larivee, and Randy Minkoff. The $100,000 state-of-the-art renovation of the playground isn't quite finished, and the Lincoln Park Morrie Mages Playground Committee is still raising funds--anybody who contributes by today will be in a drawing for two round-trip tickets to Europe. But today's event is free and takes place at the playground, at Lake Shore Drive and Irving Park Road. It's not exactly a park-deprived area, but Mages himself lived nearby and looked out on the park, it is said, for 20 years. Call 327-5988 or 708-564-9922 for more information.
Far from the madding crowd of the core-curriculum debates that have rocked the liberal arts departments of the nation's universities, Chicago's own Great Books program rolls on. The Great Books Foundation, started in 1962, tries to encourage kids and adults to try out some good literature now and then by encouraging interpretive, rather than factual, discussions. A basic leader training course is being offered today and tomorrow for teachers and volunteers who want to host their own reading programs using Great Books materials. The course runs from 9 to 3 today and tomorrow at the Episcopal Center, 65 E. Huron, across the street from the foundation offices. It's $58, and you must register in advance. Call 332-5870.