A glass of cold sangria in one hand, a plate of food balanced in the other. The only reason to disrupt such a perfect combination might be to dance to the live band performing just a few feet away. That's the basic Midsommarfest formula, and every summer, nearly 50,000 people flock to Andersonville for this celebration of all things local. Going strong for the past half century, the fest takes over Clark Street from Foster to Catalpa with booths for food and crafts as well as five different stages. These showcase eclectic entertainments that truly reflect the neighborhood's charm: not just cover bands (though there are those, too), but a pet parade, Swedish music, dance troupes, and sets from blues, roots, and funk bands. All the fun also helps the neighborhood, and not just because stoplights are powered by laughter; proceeds go to benefit community causes.
Simply put, Players Sport & Social Group helps more than 60,000 people each year get together, meet new friends, and have fun. The two-decade-old company has more than doubled in size in the last five years, due in no small part to the wide variety of sports leagues and clinics that it offers at venues throughout the city. Teams or individuals can sign up for sports ranging from dodge ball to beach volleyball to games of "bags," otherwise known as cornhole. Players can check their weekly standings online and review each sport's rules, learning exactly what is considered a foul in kickball or how to dispose of a football opponent's captured flag by burning it in a respectful ceremony.
The company also hosts and sponsors social events such as happy hours, fundraisers, and the Luau: a 55,900-participant grass-volleyball tournament with DJ music, food, and beer. Similarly, The Big Dig volleyball tournament offers the same mix of munchies, brews, and live entertainment, but on the sands of North Avenue Beach.
The Metropia Experience Chicago plunges visitors into a celebration of Chicago food, art, innovation, and music with a two-day festival pulsating with the sounds of 19 announced rock, indie pop, dubstep, and dance bands, with more acts to be announced at a future date. As the Chicago Reader's Miles Raymer writes, Santah gives a grainy, 1970s-inspired sound some "darker undercurrents, injecting a bit of heartbreak that tangles interestingly with the mellow vibe." Elsewhere on the bill, The Night Survives pushes for un-self-conscious dance-floor theatrics, Shuteye fuses house-influenced DJ skills with classic songwriting chops, and indie-pop duo Tiny Fireflies lays Kristine Capua's gently yearning vocals over melancholy drum-machine beats.
Pup Crawl Chicago fills six hours with Sam Adams drink specials and other brews from local watering holes, all in the name of PAWS Chicago. Proceeds from the event benefit this leader in the world of animal adoption and no-kill shelters, meaning that with every sip of that beer, a dog somewhere wags its tail and a cat regrets it doesn't have the opposable thumbs needed to write a thank-you letter. In addition to cold beers and the warm feeling that come from helping Chicago's furry citizens, participants in the event get to stock up on ample swag. Luckily, the organizers give each pub-crawler a backpack so they can hold all of their goodies.
Seven years ago, some like-minded yogis met in a Denver park to practice yoga in the great outdoors. They didn't know that in the years to come, their numbers would swell to the hundreds?or that this tradition would become an anticipated event in 20 cities. In that moment, they just wanted to celebrate an atmosphere of unity in nature.
Today, Yoga Rocks the Park (Open Sky Marketing) meets on select Saturdays and Sundays in the spring and summer, drawing participants from locales such as Chicago, Phoenix, and San Diego. Though the movement's reach has yet to stop growing, all of its incarnations are staffed locally?area yoga teachers run the trademark 75-minute, all-levels class, and area pigeons act as the security team. At the same time, live musicians provide a soundtrack for the flowing series of poses, and local businesses within the community sell yoga- and wellness-related goods from a row of tents in the Wellness Vendor Village. Yogis of all ages are welcome. In fact, a class for kids keeps youngsters occupied while parents stretch in the sun.