Facilitating the fan-delighting collision of comic-book universes and intergalactic heroes, Wizard World organizes Comic Cons and pop-culture conventions across the continent. At each event, stars from the silver screen set down roots in booths across the convention floor, wielding markers for autographs and their photo-op-ready smiles. Past guests have run the gamut from William Shatner, Patrick Stewart, and the cast of AMC?s The Walking Dead. Away from the crowds, stars also participate in talks and Q&A panels as part of the event?s programming. Along with beloved actors, Wizard World?s conventions grant guests a chance to interact with writers and artists as well as partake in activities such as gaming tournaments and costume contests.
The North Coast Music Festival is a three-day hat doff to the waning days of summer. Send off halcyon hours in style and gird your gooseflesh for the inevitable onslaught of winter with a lineup that includes electronic, hip-hop, jam-band, and indie-rock artists both famous and obscure. On Friday, the electronic poppiness of The Chemical Brothers will waft from the stage until it enters the noses and eventually implants itself in the brains of concertgoers. Saturday's lineup features the progressive improvisation of Umphrey's McGee and a DJ set by Moby, or Richard Melville Hall on his birth certificate, who has provided hot, ambient beats to films such as Any Given Sunday, The Beach, and Citizen Kane. The festival's final day presents Chicago product Lupe Fiasco and crowd-moving collaborators Nasty Nas and Damian "Jr. Gong" Marley.
Since 1851, the Wisconsin State Fair has annually showcased the state's finest resources, stuffed fairgoers with an aromatic selection of world-class foods, and entertained guests with live bands and terrifying tractor flyovers. In between hot-stepping to the Steve Meisner Polka Band on August 9 and singing along to "Cracklin' Rosie" with Eric Ebert's Tribute to Neil Diamond on August 11, fair browsers will get their choice of day to frolic manfully among a ton of food stalls, games, thrill rides, outdoor events, interactive activities, and competitions. If your trio of the fair's famous cream puffs—whose airy creaminess is just as legendary in this reality as it is in alternate realities where Wisconsin won the Civil War—doesn't fill you up completely, test your gut's maximum occupancy with August 9's brat-eating contest (4 p.m.), which is best washed down beforehand with the root-beer-float-drinking contest (3 p.m.). Kids, meanwhile, can plummet down the fair's 200-foot giant slide, take splatter-art to messy new places at the Kohl's Color Wheel, or watch the state's fastest pigs race for the coveted frosted oatmeal cookie.
German Fest is a celebration of culture through food and drink, live entertainment, and all kinds of family fun and shenanigans. Use your voucher toward bratwurst, gulasch, dumplings, potato pancakes, pork chops, desserts, and more. To wash down these hearty helpings, head to the beer garden at the north end of the grounds. On the south end of the fest, there is a carnival with games and rides.
Hearkening the charm of the town squares that dotted America in the early 20th century, The Arboretum of South Barrington places boutiques, restaurants, and cafés within strolling distance of each other in a central, tree-speckled location. The open-air center beckons with a verdant landscape of more than 2,700 trees representing 80 shade and ornamental species including maples, elms, and Golden Raindrops crabapples. Between these, gardens add splashes of color and potential hiding places for bank robbers on the run with 20,000 perennials and 10,000 grasses, originally nurtured by fourth-generation nurseryman Roy Klehm, a worldwide authority on peonies.
Apart from the grandeur and fresh air of nature, The Arboretum of South Barrington plays host to shops such as L.L. Bean, restaurants such as Anna Shea Chocolates & Lounge, and entertainment facilities such as iPic Theaters. Regular events keep the grounds bustling with culinary tours and live music.
From September 13 to 16, Camera Park’s emerald expanse of grass and wooden gazebos braces itself for a lively celebration of German culture as the first annual Oktoberfest in Glendale Heights gets underway. The festival’s spacious tent ensures a full weekend of merriment, whether the sky rains, shines, or finally spills its Big Dipper. As brass-laden live bands lay down rhythms with their oompahs, waitresses clad in dirndl skirts serve up authentic German cuisine prepared by Chef Wolfgang of Schnitzel Platz Restaurant, in addition to Austrian and German pastries and frosty beers imported from Hofbräu Brewery in Munich.
Aside from the festival’s palate-pleasing foods, revelers can work off hearty meals by participating in a strong-arm contest, dancing from noon to midnight, and erupting into a round of applause after an inspiring vocal performance by a German American choir group of children. Youngsters can also meet their daily quotas for fun with a pumpkin patch, pony rides, and huts filled with an array of souvenirs, such as hats, German flags, and apple-juice steins.