Summer Guide: Get Out of Town | Calendar | Chicago Reader

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Summer Guide: Get Out of Town

Cow chip tossing, cherry spitting, Ren Faire, and more excuses for a road trip


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Summer Beer Festival More than 300 beers from 50-plus Michigan breweries, along with food and live music.  Fri 7/23, 5-9 PM, and Sat 7/24, 1-6 PM, Riverside Park, Ypsilanti, Michigan,, $30-$40.

Circus City Festival Peru, Indiana, bills itself as the circus capital of the world, and its 250-plus-member amateur circus calls itself the greatest amateur show on earth. This annual festival features daily circus performances, carnival attractions, and the second-largest parade in Indiana.  7/17-7/24, performances Sat 2 and 7 PM, Sun 3 PM, Mon-Fri 7 PM, parade Sat 7/24, 10 AM, Circus City, 154 N. Broadway, Peru, Indiana, 765-472-3918,, $10-$13, $1 off for kids under 12.


Michigan Womyn's Music Festival Organizers say this long-running six-day campout is as much about friendship and community among "womyn" as it is the 40 genre-spanning musical performances, film festival, and craft show. Performers for the 35th-anniversary edition include Laura Love, the Indigo Girls, Toshi Reagon, and Mary Gauthier. No men allowed, but there are day camps for kids of all genders, who are reunited with their moms each night. On "650 lush green acres in Michigan," for location and directions call 231-757-4766.  Tue-Sun 8/3-8/8,, package prices vary.

Amish Acres Arts and Crafts Festival Entertainment on three stages (think old-fashioned medicine shows and bluegrass, not Mr. Blotto) and 350 artists hawking their wares around Amish Acres' paddle-boat-filled pond.  8/5-8/8, Thu-Sat 9 AM-7 PM, Sun 9 AM-5 PM, 1600 W. Market, Nappanee, Indiana, 574-773-4188,, $7, $6 seniors and kids 12-17, kids under 12 free.

Wisconsin State Fair Among the fair's more interesting offerings is a huge textile, craft, culinary, and horticulture show; there's also a whole pavilion devoted to cream puffs and brownies.  8/5-8/15, Mon-Thu 8 AM-11 PM, Fri-Sun 8 AM-midnight, Sun 8/15, 8 AM-9 PM, Wisconsin State Fair Park, 640 S. 84th, West Allis, 800-884-3247,, $9, $6 seniors, kids 7-11 $4, kids under 7 free, parking $10.

Indiana State Fair With the Giant Hot Air Balloon Race, Red Hat Day, and the World's Largest Drive-Thru Breakfast. In honor of the Indiana pork industry, this is the "Year of Pigs," so expect lots of those.  8/6-8/22, Sun-Thu 8 AM-11 PM, Fri 8 AM-midnight, Sat 8 AM-12:30 AM, Indiana State Fairgrounds, 1202 E. 38th, Indianapolis, 317-927-7500,, $8, kids under 6 free, advance tickets $7, grandstand performances require additional tickets.

Great River Tug Fest There are events throughout the weekend, but the centerpiece is a giant game of tug-of-war with a 680-pound rope strung across the Mississippi, stopping all river traffic for two hours (Sat 1-3 PM). The inaugural Tug Fest was in 1987; the tally so far is Illinois 13, Iowa 10.  Thu-Sat 8/12-8/15, Main from Walnut to Quarry, Port Byron, Illinois, 309-373-4939,

Illinois State Fair Events include horse and auto racing , grandstand concerts (including Blondie, Cheap Trick, and a double bill of Kiss and Journey tribute bands), high diving, and an ethnic village.  Fri-Sun 8/13-8/22, 7 AM-midnight, preview night Thu 8/12, Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 E. Sangamon, Springfield, 217-782-6661,, $5, seniors $2, kids under 12 free, parking $7, grandstand concerts require additional tickets.


On the Waterfront Four-day music fest on 30 city blocks in downtown Rockford, with carnival attractions, a market, and nightly fireworks.  9/2-9/5, Thu 5-9 PM, Fri 5 PM-midnight, Sat 11:30 AM-midnight, Sun 11:30 AM-11 PM, 815-964-4388,, $12 festival pass in advance, price at the gate TBA.

Lake in the Hills Summer Sunset Fest This year at Sunset Fest, Lake in the Hills Jaycees are staging an attempt to set the world record for "largest soda float" (the old one is 3,000 gallons). Aside from that, there's live music, food, a beer garden, classic cars, and something called "Melon Propellin'."  9/3-9/4, Fri 3-10:30 PM, Sat 10 AM-10:30 PM, Sun 11 AM-10:30 PM, Sunset Park, Miller and Albrecht Rds., Lake in the Hills, Illinois,

Wisconsin State Cow Chip Throw and Festival The current record for cow-chip throwing is 248 feet. Can you beat it? Do you want to? About 40,000 people attend this annual festival, which includes an arts and crafts fair, live entertainment, and a "Children's Chip Chuckin'" event.  9/3-9/4, Fri 5-11:30 PM, Sat 8 AM-11:30 PM, Marion Park, Prairie du Sac, Wisconsin,

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