There’s plenty to do in Chicago this week, and most of it happens to be free. First, check out the world’s oldest African American parade; then, head to Millennium Park for an open-to-the-public concert full of Broadway favorites. Celebrate composer Cole Porter’s would-be 125th birthday with the Chicago Symphony Orchestra, or stop in the Weinberg/Newton Gallery for a moving exhibit on gun violence in the city.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
August 13 | Parade
Bud Billiken Parade
This old-fashioned parade, now in its 87th year, celebrates Chicago’s African American community. Named after the editor of Chicago Defender Jr.—a section of the Chicago Defender newspaper dedicated strictly to kids—the parade started as a way to give underprivileged youth a chance to perform in the spotlight. Now, the parade has exploded into an even bigger affair, with dozens of bands, floats, drill teams, and more walking the route. The event ends with a picnic in the park, complete with more performers and vendors.
9 a.m. | Martin Luther King Dr. from 35th to 55th Sts., Chicago | Free | website
August 13–14 | Escape the city
This weekend, head three hours southwest to Illinois’s capital, Springfield, for the one-of-a-kind Illinois State Fair. It’s the one place where you’ll find a life-size cow sculpture made completely out of 500 pounds of butter. You’ll also find horse races, parades, tractor pulls, and more. The fair runs from August 11 through August 21, so you’ll even get another chance to finish seeing the sites next weekend, too. When you need a break from the festivities, there are plenty of other things to do in Springfield, including touring the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum and Lincoln’s former home.
Illinois State Fairgrounds, 801 Sangamon Ave., Springfield | $10 | website
August 15 | Concert
Broadway in Chicago Summer Concert
So you didn’t get tickets to Hamilton. Here’s a pretty sweet consolation package: a free night out in Chicago’s Millennium Park listening to a sample of the best of Broadway. Highlights include the songs from Aladdin, Finding Neverland, The Phantom of the Opera, and Stomp. The outdoor event is BYO picnic, which you can enjoy while you listen—just make sure to show up early so you can get a patch of grass that’s close to the action.
6:15 p.m. | Jay Pritzker Pavilion at Millennium Park, 201 E. Randolph St., Chicago | Free | website
August 17 | Concert
Cole Porter’s 125th Birthday Celebration
Broadway composer Cole Porter is known for hits like “You’re the Top,” “In the Still of the Night,” and “Anything Goes.” This would be his 125th birthday, and the Chicago Symphony Orchestra is throwing a party for everyone who wants to celebrate. The symphony will perform Porter’s most beloved compositions. Vocalists Klea Blackhurst and Sylvia McNair will provide the pipes, while tap dancer Ryan VanDenBoom will provide the choreography. Bring your own picnic and sit on the lawn, or make it a more formal affair and get seats in the pavilion.
5 p.m. | 200 Ravinia Park Rd., Highland Park | From $10 | website
Through September 24 | Exhibit
Perhaps you’ve heard about the gun violence that’s been terrorizing Chicago lately. Chicago artists have, too, and they’ve reacted to it by creating works of art that examine segregation, racism, and the violence that appears to be never-ending. This Heat features the works of three such artists at the Weinberg/Newton Gallery. The exhibit is thought-provoking and unsettling; bullet casings dangling from the ceiling trace the trajectory of bullets as if shot through the gallery’s walls.
Weinberg/Newton Gallery, 300 W Superior St., Suite 203, Chicago | Free | website
Danielle Braff lives in Chicago with her husband, two daughters, two cats, and her dog. When she’s not writing, she’s out photographing her city and running around frantically trying to fit as many events as she can into her day. You can check out her other articles at Daniellebraff.com.