Get outside and celebrate everything from art to oysters this week in Chicago. At Shock Top Oyster Fest, you’ll be able to sample plenty of seafood as well as beer. Then there’s a party and parade for Mexico’s independence day—and you can bet it’ll be loud and crazy. Or head to Ravenswood ArtWalk, where you’ll be given special admission into the studios of some spectacular artists. Finally, end the week at the biggest block party you’ll ever attend, and raise money for charity while you’re there.
AFAR Local is our weekly insider guide to the best of what’s happening in cities around the U.S.
September 9–10 | Festival
Shock Top Oyster Fest
Oysters are just one of the many seafood treats featured at this delicious festival, which is returning for its 18th year. Tents serving Fanny Bay Oysters and Bevans Blue Point Oysters will be among the many vendors on-site, which go beyond seafood to other great dishes from local restaurants. Aside from the food, there will be lots and lots of beer, as well as music and a kids’ activities area.
Times vary | Roscoe Village at N. Damen Ave. and W. Roscoe St., Chicago | $7 | website
September 9–11 | Festival
Festival de la Villita
Celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spanish rule in the best way possible: with food, music, carnival rides, and kids’ entertainment. There will be dozens of vendors serving south-of-the-border food, so come with an empty belly. The Mexican Independence Day Parade—one of the biggest Hispanic cultural celebrations in the Midwest—will kick off at 2 p.m. on Sunday on Commercial Avenue from 87th to 99th Streets. Expect soap opera stars, athletes, and TV personalities to be joining flamenco dancers, mariachi bands, and vibrant floats.
Times vary | 2600 S. California Ave., Chicago | Free | website
September 10–11 | Art
It’s part arts market, part open house, part gallery hop, and part festival: This week, Ravenswood ArtWalk is your one stop for everything art. Check out the work of more than 300 artists, which will be on display in 50 venues around the city, including galleries, studios, private industrial spaces, and collections. The center of the walk is the outdoor market, which will feature more than 40 artists and artisans, two stages of music, a craft beer garden, food trucks, and a kiddie corner. Bonus: You’ll be able to visit working studios and warehouses that are normally closed to the public, including the Notebaert Nature Museum Warehouse and its rare pieces.
11 a.m.–6 p.m. | Leland Ave. to Irving Park Rd., Chicago | $5 | website
This tiny northeast Illinois town holds a gigantic festival every Labor Day week that draws thousands of revelers. This year, in the 129th edition of the fair, people will come to see tractor pulls, a demolition derby (drivers deliberately ram their vehicles into one another, and the winner is the last driver whose vehicle is operational), and the All American Lumberjack Show (in which professional lumberjacks compete in events using axes, chainsaws, and cross-cut saws). It’s something totally new and unexpected if you’re not from these parts.
8 a.m. | Sandwich Fairgrounds, Sandwich (map) | From $9 | website
September 11 | Block party
This block party takes the concept of a lemonade stand and elevates it to a citywide charity event. During LemonAid, you can buy brownies and cookies, get your face painted, and dance to live DJs—all to support a local children’s charity. This year, the beneficiaries of the annual event—which has raised nearly $180,000 over the past 15 years—are Oak Park River Forest Food Pantry and PING!, a philanthropy that provides musical instrument to low-income students.
3–7 p.m. | 700 block of Bonnie Brae, River Forest | Donation suggested | 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.