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Chicago summer festivals guide

Start making weekend plans filled with food, music and art with our guide to Chicago summer festivals and street parties

Photograph: Jaclyn Elizabeth Rivas

Once the weather in Chicago starts warming up, the streets fill with people and the city's summer festival season gets started. Looking for things to do this weekend? There's likely a festival for that and you can find it here. Find dozens of bands at Chicago summer music festivals or go on a hunt for the best burger in Chicago. Don't get too stuffed though, because these Chicago summer festivals offer some of the best, and most worldly food available all year long. 

RECOMMENDED: Things to do in the summer in Chicago

Chicago summer festivals in May 2017

Cinco De Mayo Parade

Yes, it takes place on the Siete de Mayo, but no Cinco celebration is more authentic than the parade in Little Village. The parade memorializes the victory of Mexican forces over the French during the Battle of Puebla back on May 5, 1862.

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Cermak Rd and Wood St , Lower West Side Sunday May 7 2017

Chicago Beer Classic

Enjoy the best beer Chicago and the Midwest have to offer. Sample brews from the more than 80 participating breweries, including local standbys and national favorites such as Half Acre, Revolution, Bucket List, Lagunitas and more. Attendees receive 48 2-ounce samples, as well as access to exclusive brews, activities and games, and interactive learning opportunities to get better educated about the beer-making process. Beer drinkers are also able to cast their votes for the best beer of the day. The winner receives the Most Valuable Brew award.

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Soldier Field , Museum Campus Saturday May 6 2017

Kids and Kites Festival

Recommended

Celebrate the arrival of spring at this free, outdoor family-friendly festival at Cricket Hill in Lincoln Park, where kids can fly a kite or watch professional demonstrations. Free paper kites will be provided, but families will also be able to purchase more intricate flying creations from a variety of vendors.

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Montrose Harbor , Uptown Saturday May 6 2017
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Polish Constitution Day Parade

The Polish Constitution was signed on May 3rd, 1791 and for over 100 years Chicago has celebrated the date with a parade through the Loop. More than 250,000 attendees are expected to flock to the celebration's route along State Street from Lake Street to Van Buren Street to watch the procession and honor Europe's first democratic constitution.

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Columbus Dr and Balbo Ave , Grant Park Saturday May 6 2017

Chicago Critics Film Festival

Recommended

Now in its sixth year, the Chicago Critics Film Association throws an annual film fest for the public’s shot at seeing some of the hottest unreleased films. Catch this year's buzziest movies before they're out on wide release.

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Music Box Theatre , Wrigleyville Friday May 12 2017 - Thursday May 18 2017

Chicago Craft Beer Week

Recommended

The annual event from the Illinois Craft Brewers Guild brings the Chicago beer community together for more than a week of tastings, tappings, dinners and other beer-focused events at locations all over the city. 

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Various venues , Loop Thursday May 18 2017 - Thursday May 25 2017
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Zoo-ologie

Ever wish you could go to the zoo without the little ones in tow? The Lincoln Park Zoo's annual fundraiser features cocktails, live music and, of course, up-close animal encounters. Proceeds help keep the zoo's admission free for visitors year-round.

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Lincoln Park Zoo , Lincoln Park Saturday May 20 2017

Mayfest

This Lakeview neighborhood tradition typically kicks off street festival season, celebrating its 22nd anniversary with food and music in a giant heated tent. Munch on pretzels, grab a brew from the outdoor beer garden and get ready for a summer full of weekends spent drinking on the street.

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3100 N Ashland Ave , Lake View Friday May 19 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017

Lincoln Park Wine Fest

Sample more than 100 wines from all over the world while listening to classical music at the inaugural Lincoln Park Wine Fest. Yes, it doesn't get much more sophisticated than this. Our advice? Cozy up to the most nicely dressed person in attendance and ask them to take you for a post-fest ride on their yacht.

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Jonquil Park , Sheffield & DePaul Saturday May 20 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017
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Skokie Festival of Cultures

Take a tour of the world at this popular festival in Skokie, which features ethnic music, dance, food and arts. Attendees won't have trouble finding ways to celebrate cultural diversity at this free event, with activities like an international beer tasting competition and plenty of games for kids and families.

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Oakton Park , Skokie Saturday May 20 2017 - Sunday May 21 2017
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Chicago summer festivals in June 2017

Maifest

It's Oktoberfest (even though it's June), as the traditionally German neighborhood of Lincoln Square throws down with all the beers, cheers, oompah, Lederhosen and pretzels you'd expect.

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Lincoln Square , Lincoln Square Thursday June 1 2017 - Sunday June 4 2017

Two Brothers Summer Festival

Recommended

Every summer, the Two Brothers Brewing Company puts together a weekend full of beer and music while rasing money for charity. This year, the festival moves to RiverEdge Park in downtown Aurora, where X Amassadors, saint Motel, Blind Pilot, Knox Hamilton and Savoir Adore will headline the two-day event. 

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RiverEdge Park , Suburbs Friday June 2 2017 - Saturday June 3 2017

57th Street Art Fair

Recommended

The oldest juried craft fair in Hyde Park features paintings, sculptures, jewelry and ceramics from more than 200 artists. This year's event will feature pop-up artist talks as well as an artist-at-work area, where attendees can observe the process of creation. Attendees can shop for artwork created in a variety of mediums, including glass, jewelry, leather, photography, printmaking, painting, sculpture, wood, ceramics or fiber.

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57th St between Kenwood and Kimbark Aves Saturday June 3 2017 - Sunday June 4 2017
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Chicago Tribune Printers Row Lit Fest

Recommended

Get your lit fix as the city's historic former bookmaking hub hosts the Midwest's biggest free outdoor ode to literature. Publishers, booksellers, literacy and cultural organizations advocate books and related merchandise in different lanuages and genres, while authors participate in panels and discussion. The kiddies can enjoy special activities at the Lil' Lit Park.

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Printers Row , Downtown Saturday June 10 2017 - Sunday June 11 2017
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Ribfest Chicago

Recommended

Head to Northcenter to dig into over 50,000 pounds of ribs and BBQ and don't forget to grab some napkins. The annual celebration of saucy pork will also play host to RibMania, the Midwest's only sanctioned rib-eating contest, which invites amateur and professional competitive eaters to chow down for a cash prize.

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Lincoln Avenue / Irving Park Road / Damen Avenue Friday June 9 2017 - Sunday June 11 2017

Spring Awakening Music Festival

Recommended

With the Copa América Centenario international soccer tournament taking over Soldier Field throughout June, Chicago's biggest EDM festival is moving to Addams/Medill Park this summer. In its new location, local promoter React Presents is planning the biggest Spring Awakening to date, featuring more than 100 acts, five stages and carnival rides. Headliners for the 2016 fest include Deadmau5, Steve Aoki, Flying Lotus, A-Trak more of the biggest and best electronic acts.

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Addams/Medill Park , Little Italy, UIC Friday June 9 2017 - Sunday June 11 2017

Lombard Ale Fest

Recommended

Lombard's annual craft beer festival showcases more than 100 seasonal beers from breweries across the country, including Central Waters, Lakefront Brewing and Stone Brewing Co. Thirsty attendees will gather in the downtown Lombard Metra station to sample brews and wash down savory dishes from Chicagoland food trucks.

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Lombard Metra Station , Suburbs Saturday June 10 2017
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Pilsen Food Truck Social

Recommended

More than 25 trucks will show up to sling sample portions of tasty grub on the street outside of Thalia Hall at the Pilsen Food Truck Social. A percentage of the proceeds benefits the Illinois Food Truck Owners Association, the St Procopius Church soup kitchen and food panty and local after school programs.

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Dusek's Board and Beer , Lower West Side Saturday June 10 2017 - Sunday June 11 2017
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Chicago summer festivals in July 2017

Eyes to the Skies Festival

Recommended

In Lisle, the Fourth of July features plenty of airborne eye candy, including fireworks and hot air balloons. Balloons launch daily, filling the sky with colorful inflatables of all shapes and sizes. In the evening, the balloons come down and the fireworks begin. Attendees can also check out the festival's carnival, kids area, live music and craft fair.

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Lisle Community Park , Suburbs Wednesday June 28 2017 - Sunday July 2 2017

Naperville Ribfest

Recommended

For more than two decades, this pork party has been serving up grilled grub along with rock- and country-flavored tunes. This year, The Wallflowers, Toby Keith, the B-52s, Collective Soul and more serve as the suburban fest's big musical acts. As always, on July 4th the celebration concludes with a firework display.

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Knoch Park , Suburbs Friday June 30 2017 - Monday July 3 2017
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Windy City Ribfest

Recommended

Flex your jaw muscles and stretch that waistline at this 'cue fest in Uptown during Fourth of July weekend. Expect plenty of ribs and some live music, including national acts and regional cover bands. This year, vendors include BBQ King Smokehouse, Chicago BBQ Company, Aussom Aussie Australian BBQ and more great meat purveyors.

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Lawrence Ave at Broadway , Uptown Friday June 30 2017 - Sunday July 2 2017

Chosen Few DJs Music Festival,

Chicago's annual celebration of house music, the Chosen Few Old School Reunion Picnic, gets a makeover this summer, transforming into a full-fledged two-day music festival in Jackson Park. On Saturday, guests can pack a basket and take in performances from the event's namesake DJs, as well as guests like Joe Claussell, Harry Dennis and Curtis McClain. Sunday's lineup highlights soul, R&B and jazz performers, including vibraphone player Roy Ayers and R&B singer Cheryl Lynn.

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Jackson Park , Woodlawn Saturday July 1 2017 - Sunday July 2 2017

Fourth of July Fireworks

Recommended

The city of Chicago ditched its official fireworks show a few years back, but Navy Pier picks up the slack with its explosive Independence Day celebration. Revelers can head down to the pier or Millennium Park for an up-close view, but if you're not a fan of crowds you'll want to hit the lakefront or find a friend with a rooftop by the shore.

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Until Tue Jul 4
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Glen Ellyn's Fourth of July Fireworks

Recommended

Looking to escape to the suburbs to celebrate the nation's independence? Glen Ellyn's Fourth of July festivities are an all-day event, including a four-mile run, a picnic and a parade at noon. The festivities culminate with a fireworks display in Lake Ellyn Park that rivals Navy Pier's explosive show, beginning at dusk.

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Until Tue Jul 4

Taste of Chicago

Recommended

Since 1980, Grant Park has been hosting what has become the granddaddy of food festivals. You know the drill: Trade tickets for a taste of Chicago's street fare. Hopefully what you gain in weight, you'll lose from your wallet. As always, there will be music at Petrillo (The Roots, The Decemberists and more) for you to listen to while you devour your turkey leg, rainbow cone or deep dish pizza. 

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Grant Park , Millennium Park Wednesday July 5 2017 - Sunday July 9 2017

Square Roots Festival

Recommended

Alt-country and Americana music are the two presiding genres at the annual Square Roots festival, which returns to Lincoln Square in July. Presented in conjunction with the nearby Old Town School of Folk Music, attendees can take in sets from more than 70 bands spread across two indoor stages and two outdoor stages while enjoying eclectic fare from nearby restaurants and beer from craft breweries. There will also be a local market where festival-goers can purchase unique products and fine art from regional vendors. Proceeds from the festival benefits small business workshops, community place-making efforts and the Old Town School of Folk Music Scholarship programs. 

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Old Town School of Folk Music , Lincoln Square Friday July 7 2017 - Sunday July 9 2017
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Ruido Fest

Recommended

Returning to Pilsen's Addams/Medill Park, Ruido Fest fills a void in Chicago's summer festival scene: Latin American rock en español, pop and electro. Headliners include Texan Norteño act Intocable, Puerto Rican reggae band Cultura Profética, Mexican alt-rockers Molotov and pop singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas. Ther rest of the bill is equally exciting, with appearances from Columbian electro dup Bomba Estéreo, Chilean art-rocker (and son of director Alejandro Jodorowsky) Adan Jodorowsky and masked electronic act the Wookies.  

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Addams/Medill Park , Little Italy, UIC Friday July 7 2017 - Sunday July 9 2017
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Chicago summer festivals in August 2017

Edge Fest

Not a celebration of U2's guitarist. The "edge" here is Edgewater. This year, the 'hood hosts a long weekend of wholesome family entertainment featuring tons of interactive, kid-friendly activities including karaoke night and DockDogs, a traveling aquatics dog competition. Vendors willl serve up the anticipated array of festival foods (corn dogs, funnel cakes, blintzes, donuts), while local artists display handmade goods and crafts.

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Broadway from Thorndale to Ardmore Saturday August 5 2017 - Sunday August 6 2017

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

Recommended

The Chicago History Museum's celebration of one our city's signature dishes is back again, and it's still growing. The three-day festival collects some of the best sausage-slinging vendors from all across the city.

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Chicago History Museum , Lincoln Park Friday August 11 2017 - Sunday August 13 2017

Ginza Holiday Festival

Recommended

Throw on a yukata, the summer kimono, at this 62nd annual celebration of Japanese culture. Meet and buy crafts from master craftsmen (called Waza). Live martial arts, cultural songs, classical dances and Japanese food give Chicago a taste of Japan.

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Midwest Buddhist Temple , Lincoln Park Friday August 11 2017 - Sunday August 13 2017
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Bud Billiken Parade

The world's largest and oldest African American parade enters its 88th year celebrating Chicago's youth. The parade's two mile route begins in the Bronzeville neighborhood and continues north on Dr. Martin Luther King Drive, concluding in Washington Park with a picnic that features vendors and performers. This year, South Side native Chance the Rapper will serve as the parade's Grand Marshall.

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Martin Luther King Dr from 35th to 55th , Douglas Saturday August 12 2017

Northalsted Market Days

Recommended

Northalsted Market Days is the largest two-day street festival in the Midwest and features lots of booze, phallic junk food (think corn dogs and chocolate-dipped bananas), music acts and terrific street fashion.

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Halsted and Roscoe Sts , Boystown Saturday August 12 2017 - Sunday August 13 2017

Illinois State Fair

Recommended

Come for the festival fare, stay for the Butter Cow—the fair's unofficial icon and Paula Deen's life-long dream, a life-size cow sculpture made of 500 pounds of butter. Watch tractor pulls, horse races, parades and musical acts. Some events require additional tickets. The music lineup this year includes Meghan Trainor, Pat Benator, Jake Owen and more.

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Illinois State Fairgrounds Thursday August 10 2017 - Sunday August 20 2017
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Festival Cubano

Back in Riis Park for another year, the three-day Festival Cubano brings together musician, dancers and food for a weekend of cultural celebration. See sets from Cuban musicians, enjoy carnvial and animal rides, enter the domino tournament or enjoy a hand-rolled cigar.

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Riis Park , Belmont Cragin Friday August 11 2017 - Sunday August 13 2017

Festa Italiana

The UIC area gets in touch with its Italian roots by showing off neighborhood restaurants at this magnifico festival. A bocce-ball tournament, grape-stomping challenge and meatball-eating contest get the competitive juices flowing while bands provide the event's soundtrack.

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Taylor St and Ashland Ave , Little Italy, UIC Friday August 18 2017 - Sunday August 20 2017

Glenwood Avenue Arts Fest

The weekend artists' market in Rogers Park combines three stages of music and performance acts with locally made arts and crafts from more than 100 vendors. The festival kicks off on August 14 with the Friday Night Cobblestone Jam.

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Glenwood Ave Friday August 18 2017
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Edison Park Fest

This street festival turns Edison Park into a giant carnival, complete with rides for the kids, magic shows, jugglers and an entire lineup of tribute bands.

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Edison Park , Edison Park Friday August 18 2017 - Sunday August 20 2017
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Chicago summer festivals in September 2017

Chicago Jazz Festival

Chicago is known for its blues musicians, but these days it's more of a jazz city. The annual Chicago Jazz Festival celebrates contemporary improvisers and legendary players with four days of concerts at the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. If you don't have Labor Day weekend plans, why not go see some musicians showing off their improvisational prowess?

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Millennium Park, Pritzker Pavilion , Millennium Park Thursday August 31 2017 - Sunday September 3 2017

Taste of Polonia

Feast on potato pancakes, kielbasa, pierogi and more at this Polish celebration during Labor Day weekend. After you've stuffed yourself, dance to some polka music, watch a cover band or play a few rounds of bingo.

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Copernicus Center , Jefferson Park Friday September 1 2017 - Monday September 4 2017

North Coast Music Festival

Recommended

The other big festival in Union Park (the one that doesn't rhyme with Itchpork) leans heavy on EDM, jam and rap. Booked by some of the same folks behind Spring Awakening and Mamby on the Beach, North Coast is an eclectic affair with a focus on EDM, jam bands, hip-hop and a few more adventurous indie rock acts. 

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Union Park , West Loop Friday September 1 2017 - Sunday September 3 2017
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Windy City Wine Festival

Sample more than 300 wines from around the world at this annual sommelier extravaganza at Buckingham Fountain in Grant Park. Area restaurants and caterers will be serving up their signature dishes while bands provide musical accompaniment to your wine tasting journey.

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Buckingham Fountain , Grant Park Friday September 8 2017 - Saturday September 9 2017

Riot Fest

Recommended

Relocated to the sprawling Douglas Park on the city's West Side, replete with circus attractions, Riot Fest prides itself on being punk. It's bookings are as diverse as "punk" is difficult to define. There's mall-punk, hardcore, emo, goth, metal, thrash, new-wave, rap and gray-haired indie.

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Douglas Park , North Lawndale Friday September 15 2017 - Sunday September 17 2017

German-American Fest

Recommended

Grab a plastic stein and munch on a pretzel at this annual Lincoln Park celebration of Deutschland heritage. The street party features plenty of German food, music and danding as well as the Von Steuben Parade.

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Western and Leland Aves , Lincoln Square Friday September 8 2017 - Sunday September 10 2017
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Independence Park Beer Fest

Declare your independence from corporate, mass-produced beer at this Irving Park festival, which features brews by the likes of Firestone Walker, New Belgium and more. It all happens in Independence Park, just a few blocks away from one of our favorite barbecue joints in town.

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Independence Park , Irving Park Saturday September 16 2017

Chicago Gourmet

Recommended

The annual three-day fest kicks off Friday with its Hamburger Hop throwdown. Walk in to Millennium Park and waddle out once you've stuffed your face at cooking demos, tasting pavilions and a wine sampling.

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Millennium Park , Millennium Park Friday September 22 2017 - Sunday September 24 2017

Edgewater Fall Art Fair

Children's art and creativity come with a hyperlocal focus at the 3rd Annual Edgewater Fall Art Fair. Local schools showcase student artwork programs through gallery exhibitions, while smaller-size budding Rembrandts can face- and finger-paint at the Children’s Activity Corner. This family friendly fest includes a children's music talent showcase, costume contest, pet parade. Adults can enjoy the beer garden as well.

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Until Sun Sep 24
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