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 musical melting pot of the third annual North Coast Music Festival boils over the sprawling greens of Union Park, spilling out three days of euphony to bid summer adieu. As with the last two years' celebrations, this year features an all-star cornucopia of electronic dance music, hip-hop acts, jam bands, and indie rockers, with many headlining acts soon to be announced.
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.
With sizzling pans of their finest dishes in tow, chefs and cooks from across town congregate at the annual Taste of Skokie Valley to dish out tastings and support their community. At the event, which benefits more than 30 local and international charities, they’ll pile plates high with samples of their plump burgers, international delicacies, and frosting-laden cupcakes. When they’re not grilling, stirring, or slicing, the chefs chatter amicably with guests, raising their voices ever so slightly to be heard over the soft hum of the crowd and lively music from Michael Lerich and his Orchestra.
The silent auction and raffle also keep things local, doling out prizes such as gift cards to local shopping malls or maps to locally buried pirate treasure.
Renovated in 2006, the nearly century-old Wilmette Theatre entertains theatergoers with a rotating slate of current and classic offerings, including Hollywood blockbusters and niche art films. Cylindrical light from a whirring projector flickers across two auditoriums, where movie-going duos can snack on buttery tubs of popcorn while sipping a soda and whispering spoilers into the facility’s pristine Soundfold curtain. The Wilmette underwent a key renovation in 2006, fortifying the century-old venue’s commitment to quality art with fresh coats of paint, an overhauled concessions center, and screenings of feature-length still lifes.
Occupying a building that sprang up at the turn of the 20th century, the Irish American Heritage Center (IAHC) somehow manages to cram Ireland into one of Chicago’s city blocks. Work from Irish artists hangs in the building’s art gallery, books from Irish authors fill its library, Irish plays light up its 658-seat theater, and Irish food and drinks delight the crowd on the main floor at the Fifth Province Pub. The IAHC also has a knowledgeable staff of instructors, who teach classes on everything from Irish dance and music to Irish language and genealogy.