Voted "Best Pumpkin Fest" by viewers of Fox News Chicago, Bengtson's Pumpkin Farm captivates visitors with the autumn-themed fun of four new attractions, pig races, a 3-acre corn maze fit for all ages, and the Kids Village complete with a jail and a fire station. Swine speed toward the finish line 10 times daily, spurred on by the cheers of bleacher-seated audiences, and human competitors race playmates or sentient scarecrows through the giant Crazy Corn Maizey's swaying stalks. The Pumpkin Chucker launches gourds skyward, and pint-size patrons mirror mid-air trajectories on kiddy rides such as the new 90-foot Mega Fun Slide and Flying Frogs (free through October 30, excluding pony rides). Ghoulish chefs and mad scientists cook up screams in the Haunted Barn before sending the spooked off to enjoy the soothing effects and bleated lullabies of goats, zebras, kangaroos, and other critters at the petting zoo.
Music and yoga are perfect bedfellows: both can invigorate the body, and both can mollify the mind. So the Chicagoland yoga community has paired the two together for the Naperville Fusion Summer Music Festival, filling the air with a culture of positivity, creativity, and expression. All day, yoga workshops invite first-timers and experienced flexers alike to tap into the unity of body, mind, and spirit, while musical acts bring crowds together without slowly making the festival grounds smaller and smaller. Lila, for instance, tucks audiences under a blanket of tranquility with her kirtan music, whereas Under the Willow treats ears to traditional bluegrass tunes. A bounce house and family-fun train keep toddlers as peaceful as their parents, and Two Brothers Brothers Company provides liquid serenity in the form of beer and coffee for of-age patrons.
Downers Grove Choral Society’s accomplished singers present classic choral works and contemporary masterpieces during concerts in Chicago’s western suburbs. Helmed by new music director Dr. Amy Weller, the choir will explore Rossini’s 149-year old Petite Messe Solennelle, a whimsical mass more playful than a beagle puppy wearing a propeller beanie. An award-winning lineup of guest artists, including soprano Christine Steyer and alto Laura Sauer, will fill each performance with pitch-perfect notes and rich vocal textures. A pair of vintage reed organs also joins the Society's lineup, with an 1884 Mason and Hamlin accompanying the performance in LaGrange and a Story and Clark organ backing the performance in Naperville. The Sunday matinee unfolds in a 13,000-square-foot concert hall designed by the Talaske Group, which perfected the acoustics at Millennium Park’s Pritzker Pavilion. Here, sound ricochets off of two massive chambers and motorized curtains designed to help tune concerts, filling up to 1,210 ears and 650 trick-or-treat baskets with crisp, delicious melodies.
The Southside Polish Fest is said to be the largest of its kind in the country, an honor it has earned by attracting not just the local Polish community, but by welcoming Chicagoans of all ethnicities. Whether familiar with the culture or not, revelers can immerse themselves in it by sampling traditional foods and beers and by taking in the live performances scheduled to fill all three days of the festival. This entertainment includes polka bands, Polish musicians, traditional dancers, the unceasing movement of the sun, and even a pierogi-eating contest. Kids will be drawn to the 25 carnival rides, which riders can enjoy by purchasing wristbands good for either 4-hour blocks or all three days of the festival.
A celebration of all things ink, Tattoo Arts & Horror Festival brings together celebrities, sideshow entertainers, tattoo artists, and connoisseurs of the horror movie genre for a weekend of macabre camaraderie. The roster of celebrities hews toward the horror film genre—on hand will be George Wilbur of the Halloween films, Ari Lehman from Friday the 13th, and John Carl Buechler, the writer, director, and actor known for his work on Nightmare on Elm Street 4 and Halloween. The rest of the guest list includes tattoo supermodel Heather Moss and enough tattoo artists to honor every MOM in North America.
But there's plenty more to ogle at than just celebrities. Human suspension performers, for instance, challenge viewers' concepts of pain and endurance by piercing their flesh with large hooks and suspending themselves from above. Further impossibilities are on display during the Captain's Sideshow, a performance with beds of nails, mouse traps, and just about anything else that can make you cover your eyes and then peek between your fingers. But at Tattoo Arts & Horror Festival, the show easily crosses the threshold of the stage and into the crowd. Expect to see everybody in their brightest inks, their sharpest piercings, and their most gothic duds, especially during the costume contest and the Ms. Tattoo Pageant.
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.