*Naperville Ribfest , Jul 1–4Knoch Park, 700 S West St, Naperville (ribfest.net). Noon–10pm; $12, advance at Jewel stores $9, kids under 11 free. For more than two decades, this pork-peddling party has been serving up grilled grub and grooving to rock- and country-flavored headliners. This year, the fest welcomes LeAnn Rimes, Sammy Hagar, Los Lonely Boys and the Charlie Daniels Band.
Eyes to the Skies Festival , Jul 2–4Lisle Community Park, Rte 53 at Short St, Lisle (eyestotheskies.org). 11am–11pm; $3–$5, kids under 5 free. Hot-air balloons take to the sky daily at 6am and 6pm, and grounded balloons fire up nightly at 8:30pm. Stay for the carnival, kids’ area, fireworks, a lumberjack show and live music each night.
International Festival of Life , Jul 2–555th St and Cottage Grove Ave (festivaloflife.biz). Noon–10pm; before 5pm $10, after 5pm $15. This South Side festival celebrates life, health awareness and, of course, reggae. Take in food, arts and crafts, live music and plenty of living.
FREECherry Pit Spit , Jul 3Tree-Mendus Fruit, 9351 Eureka Rd, Eau Claire, MI (treemendus-fruit.com). 10am. The phrase “Life is just a bowl of cherries," has never been truer. People of all ages come to see who can spit a cherry pit the farthest. Qualifying rounds start at 10am, and the championship starts at 1pm. You can also pick your own cherries, eat from food tents and take a pony ride.
* FREEChicago Fourth of July Fireworks , Jul 4Various locations including Navy Pier, 600 E Grand Ave (explorechicago.org). 9pm. The city joins forces with Navy Pier for an explosive Independence Day fireworks show (on Jul 4 instead of the usual Jul 3). Three lake barges mark the shoot-off point for the festivities. North Siders can get an eyeful from Foster Avenue to Montrose Avenue along the lakefront. Navy Pier marks the central location, and on the South Side, watch the sky light up from 63rd Steet to Promontory Point.
FREEItasca’s Fantastic Fireworks , Jul 4Hamilton Lakes Park, 1392–1399 W Thorndale Ave, Itasca (jamfests.com). 5–10:30pm. Independence Day goes off with a bang at one of Illinois’s largest fireworks displays. The live music starts at 8pm; fireworks commence around 9:50pm.
Lake Forest Festival & Fireworks , Jul 4Deerpath Park, Deerpath and Hastings Rds, Lake Forest (chicagoevents.com). 3–10pm; $10, advance $7.50, kids less than 48" tall free. At this classic suburban fireworks festival, KC & the Sunshine Band performs.
Bastille Day 5K Run, Walk & Block Party , Jul 72700 N Cannon Dr (chicagoevents.com). 7:30–10pm; run $27–$30, block party $5. After you break a sweat in the 5K, cool down at the block party, which starts at 8:30pm at the Peggy Notebaert Nature Museum (2430 N Cannon Dr). The party celebrates all things French with food and live music.
BenFest , Jul 9, 10St. Benedict’s Parish, 2215 W Irving Park Rd (stbenedict.com). 4–11pm, $5–$10. The folks at St. Benedict’s throw this bash each year to benefit their schools and parish. Chow down on some food, listen to bands and register for the $10,000 raffle.
Boulevard Bash , Jul 9–113000–3100 W Logan Square Blvd (starevents.com). Fri 5–10pm, Sat noon–10pm, Sun noon–9pm; $5. Logan Square’s boulevards rock with live music, artisans, and food and drink.
FREEGreat Performers of Illinois , Jul 9–11Millennium Park, N Michigan Ave at Randolph St (exploreChicago.org). Fri 6:30–10pm, Sat 7am–11pm, Sun 11am–10pm. This celebration of all things Illinois features music, wine tastings, square dancing, Abe Lincoln impersonators and a corn maze.
Irish American Heritage Festival, Jul 9–11Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N Knox Ave (irish-american.org). Fri 6pm–midnight, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–11pm; $14, advance $8, seniors $7, kids 12 and under free. Go for brogue during this fest, which features live bands, including the Mickey Finns and Scythian. Check out the “Folk Tent," if you’re in the market for Irish clothing or instruments.
Old St. Pat’s World’s Largest Block Party, Jul 9, 10Old Saint Patrick’s Church, 700 W Adams St (worldslargestblockparty.com). 5:30–10:30pm; $45, advance $40. This jammy summer singles fest boasts that it has brought together several sets of spouses over its 26 years. This year’s performers include Barenaked Ladies, Kris Allen and Angel Taylor.
*Bristol Renaissance Faire, Jul 10–Sept 4I-94 and State Line Rd, Kenosha, WI (renfair.com/bristol). 10am–7pm; $18.95, advance $17.95, kids ages 5–12 $9.50, advance kids $8.50, kids under 5 free. Party like it’s 1499. See jousting knights, musicians, games and merry maidens during this annual Elizabethan extravaganza. Put on your wench or knight costume, ready your old English accent and join live-action fantasy play, interactive riddles, hunts and other adventures. The festival takes place Saturdays, Sundays and Labor Day.
*Chicago Folk & Roots Festival, Jul 10, 11Welles Park, 2333 W Sunnyside Ave (chicagofolkandroots.org). Noon–10pm; $10, seniors and kids $5. Get down with the folk at this annual tradition of music and merriment. Learn everything from Hula to the rhumba in the dance tent. Little ones can make music in the kids’ tent. A great lineup includes Budos Band, Etran Finatawa, Shemekia Copeland and Red Baraat.
Rock Around the Block, Jul 10, 113200 N Lincoln Ave (starevents.com). Sat noon–10pm, Sun noon–9pm; $5. More than 30 bands play on three stages during this fest. Street performers and a family area also entertain.
Roscoe Village Burger Fest, Jul 10, 11Belmont Ave at Damen Ave (chicagoevents.com). Noon–10pm, $5–$7. This event used to be the BAM!—Belmont Arts & Music Festival, and now it’s a celebration of meaty goodness from vendors including Jaks Tap and Select Cut Steakhouse. There will also be live music and non-beef foods.
West Fest, Jul 10, 11Chicago Ave between Wood St and Damen Ave (westfestchicago.com). Noon–10pm, $5. Live music and a variety of activities highlight the streets of West Town.
Halsted Tastes Better, Jul 12Halsted St between Belmont Ave and Addison St (northalsted.com). 6–9pm, $30, advance $20. This event is always held the Monday closest to Bastille Day. Celebrate France (and summer) by chowing down on food from local restos, like Ann Sather and Chicago Diner, and listening to live music. Beret not required.
* FREEFestival of the Lakes, Jul 14–18Wolf Lake Memorial Park, 2938 S Calumet Ave, Hammond, IN (festival.gohammond.com). Wed, Thu 5–11pm; Fri noon–11pm; Sat, Sun 8am–11pm. It’s so hard to say good-bye to yesterday and to yesterday’s bands like En Vogue and Boyz II Men, who are both playing this fair. Also on tap: Soul Asylum, Jon Secada and Clint Black. Between nostalgic sets, check out the carnival and food vendors.
Kane County Fair, Jul 14–18Kane County Fairgrounds, 525 S Randall Rd, St. Charles (kanecountyfair.com). Wed, Thu noon–11pm; Fri, Sat noon–midnight, Sun noon–10pm; $7, Wed $2, kids under 5 free. Rides, Swifty Swine pig races, a rodeo and motocross and tons of fried food are the highlights of this festival. On Sunday, get an adrenaline boost at the Demolition Derby.
*Pitchfork Music Festival, Jul 16–18Union Park, 1501 W Randolph St (pitchforkmusicfestival.com). Fri 3–10pm; Sat, Sun noon–10pm. $40, three-day pass $90, kids under 10 with paid adult free. Join the throngs of indie-music fans descending on Union Park each summer for this Chicago tradition. This year, headliners include Big Boi, Broken Social Scene, Panda Bear, Pavement, LCD Soundsystem and Modest Mouse.
Windy City Ribfest, Jul 16–18Lawrence Ave at Broadway (chicagoevents.com). Fri 5–10pm; Sat, Sun noon–10pm. Price TBD. Give up trying to keep your hands clean. Embrace the saucy mess at this second annual rib-eating extravaganza. Listen to live music and wash down those ribs with beer.
FREEEvanston Ethnic Arts Festival, Jul 17, 18Dawes Park, Sheridan Rd at Church St, Evanston (cityofevanston.org). Noon–7pm. The city of Evanston goes global with its annual cultural festival. Music, dancing, food and visual arts from more than 100 nations are represented.
*Sheffield Garden Walk & Festival, Jul 17, 18Webster St and Sheffield Ave (sheffieldgardenwalk.com). Noon–10pm, $7–$10. Take a gander at the nearly 100 resident gardens in the historic Sheffield neighborhood. Guided architecture tours, kids’ activities, food and live music from groups like Rusted Root round out this fest.
*Taste of River North, Jul 17, 18Erie Park, 630 N Kingsbury St (rnrachicago.org). Sat noon–10pm, Sun 11am–8pm; $5. Feast your eyes on some river views as you feast on food from neighborhood restaurants. Galleries, live music and kids’ activities round out this fete.
FREEChinatown Summer Fair, Jul 18Chinatown, Wentworth Ave (chicagoevents.com). 10am–8pm. Celebrate Chinese culture with a parade, a selection of arts and crafts and, of course, food.
Dearborn Garden Walk, Jul 18Goethe St at Dearborn St (dearborngardenwalk.com). Noon–5pm; $35, advance $30, North Dearborn Partner in Preservation members and kids 16 and under free. Get out of bed and get into someone else’s (garden bed, that is) during this annual garden walk. View more than 20 private gardens while listening to live classical and jazz music.
*DuPage County Fair, Jul 21–25DuPage County Fairgrounds, 2015 Manchester Rd, Wheaton (dupagecountyfair.org). 8am–11pm; $10, kids ages 3–12 $3. Get your fill of funnel cakes and the tilt-a-whirl (just hopefully not at the same time) at this annual county fair. Hit up the rides, magic shows and livestock events. Live music includes American Idol contestant Danny Gokey, the Wailers and the Academy Is.
* FREEPierogi Fest, Jul 23–25119th St at Indianapolis Blvd/U.S. 41, Whiting, IN (pierogifest.net). Fri, Sat 11am–10pm; Sun 11am–5pm. Head out for a weekend of dumpling adoration and polka passion. In addition to watching dozens of Whiting denizens decked out in pierogi costumes, you can sink your teeth into a pierogi, compete in the Pierogi Toss and enter the Pierogi Eating Contest.
Celebrate Clark Street Festival, Jul 24, 25Clark St between Morse St and Estes Ave (rogers-park.com). Sat 1–11pm, Sun 1–10pm; $5. Rogers Park celebrates diversity with live world music, food, art, jewelry and more.
Taste of Lincoln Avenue, Jul 24, 25Lincoln Ave between Fullerton and Wrightwood Aves (chicagoevents.com). Noon–10pm, $7–$10. Buy food from more than 350 vendors, listen to 40-plus music acts and make friends with as many DePaul students as you’d like. This year, Soul Asylum and the Freddy Jones Band perform.
*EAA Airventure Fly In, Jul 26–Aug 1Wittman Regional Airport, 525 W 20th Ave (airventure.org). Mon–Sat 7am–10pm, Sun 7am–5pm; $37, kids ages 6–18 $20, kids under 5 free. This giant air show features around 2,500 planes parked in rows that measure 5-plus miles. This year, celebrate the 75th anniversary of the B-17 Bomber. Check out planes and rock out to the music of Chicago and air-show regular Gary Sinise and the Lt. Dan Band.
FREENeighborhood Boys & Girls Club Family Fest, Jul 28–Aug 1Rockwell St and Irving Park Rd (nbgc.org). Wed–Fri 6–11pm; Sat, Sun 2–11pm. This benefit for the Neighborhood Boys & Girls Club youth programs boasts carnival rides, live music, food and a beer garden.
FREEFiesta del Sol, Jul 29–Aug 1 1400 W Cermak Rd between Loomis and Laflin Sts (fiestadelsol.org). Thu 5–10pm; Fri, Sat 11am–11pm; Sun 1 11am–10pm. Mexican regional, electro, Spanish pop and mariachi fill the air. This sun celebration also features rides and food.
* FREENewberry Library Book Fair and Bughouse Square Debates, Jul 29–Aug 1Newberry Library, 60 W Walton St (go.newberry.org). Thu, Fri noon–8pm; Sat, Sun 10am–6pm. This is one for the books. Choose from thousands of used publications for purchase. On Saturday, watch rabble-rousers take to their soapboxes during the Bughouse Square debates.
FREEAlexian Brothers Tour of Elk Grove, Jul 30–Aug 1Elk Grove Blvd and Ridge Ave, Elk Grove Village (tourofelkgrove.com). Check website for event times. This fifth annual event features 15 pro/am cycling races. If competitive peddling isn’t your thing, stay for the on-site sports expo and fireworks.
Ghana Fest, Jul 31Washington Park Refectory, 5531 S King Dr (ghananationalcouncil.org). 11am–10pm, $5. Learn about Ghanian traditional harvest and fill your plate with yummy regional cuisine.
Lincoln Park Arts & Music Festival, Jul 31, Aug 1Racine Ave between Fullerton and Webster Aves (chicagoevents.com). Sat noon–10pm, Sun noon–9pm; $5. Get artsy in Lincoln Park.
Summer on Southport, Jul 31, Aug 13700 N Southport Ave (starevents.com). Sat 11am–10pm, Sun 11am–9pm; $5. This event includes the Chicago Children’s Festival. But don’t worry, grown-ups, there’s also food and performing arts.
Wicker Park Fest, Jul 31, Aug 1Milwaukee Ave between Wood St and North Ave (wickerparkbucktown.com). Noon–10pm, $5. Get into the neighborhood vibe at this festival featuring indie music, food, and local arts and crafts.