The forecast for this weekend? Deliciousness. If you've wandered anywhere near the Loop this week, you're probably aware that the massive annual eat-a-thon known as Taste of Chicago already is underway, but two smaller fests—Windy City Smokeout and Roscoe Village Burger Fest—also offer some quintessential summer bites. Beer fans will want to beeline—er, bike—straight to Palmer Square for New Belgium's Tour de Fat. Expect plenty of live bands and performers at all four of those fests, or head to music-focused West Fest and Square Roots Festival. If you're in the market for a low-key outdoor hang, head to art- and culture-focused fests Summer on Southport and Irish American Heritage Festival. And please, remember to use our #getfested hashtag when Instagramming your fest pics so others can live vicariously through your delicious burger shots. email@example.com | @redeyeeeatdrink
Each week, we offer up a mini-challenge to help you make the most of your fest experience. We love this laid-back shot of the Chosen Few Picnic—stylish summer outfits!—from @jenatfrockshop. This week, show us something delicious you're eating at Taste of Chicago, Roscoe Village Burger Fest, Windy City Smokeout or any other fest and tag it #GetFested for the chance to appear in RedEye.
When: 3-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Grand Avenue at the Chicago River
How much: Single-day passes $28-$35; 2-day pass $50; 3-day pass $75; VIP meet-and-greet with pitmasters (includes Saturday admission) $100 at windycitysmokeout.com
Don't miss: A taste of the South comes to the Midwest during this three-day festival of barbecue, country music and beer presented by River North restaurant Bub City. Purchase smoked delicacies from local and national 'cuers including Lillie's Q, Dinosaur Bar-B-Que and Myron Mixon, plus beer to wash them down. Headliners include Brett Eldredge (8 p.m. Friday), Randy Rogers Band (8 p.m. Saturday) and Eli Young Band (7 p.m. Sunday).
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Belmont Avenue at Damen Avenue
How much: $8 suggested donation
Don't miss: You know what you came for, and it's burgers. Fourteen burger barons including Butcher & The Burger, Cortland's Garage, DMK Burger Bar and Goose Island Brewpub hope to win your heart with their patties. Official judging will be left to an expert panel, which will crown a winner at 6 p.m. Saturday. While you're snacking, catch performances from Treaty of Paris (6:35 p.m. Saturday), Better Than Ezra (8:30 p.m. Saturday) and others.
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Grant Park, 337 E. Randolph St.
How much: Free to attend; Petrillo Music Shell concert seating requires tickets ($25 at ticketweb.com); concert lawn seating is free
Don't miss: Love it or hate it, Taste of Chicago is the city's largest outdoor food fest, drawing an estimated 1.5 million visitors to the Loop over its five-day run last year. New five-day vendors include M Burger, Spritz Burger, Lawrence's Fisheries, Chicago's Dog House and others, plus one-day pop-ups from Stan's Donuts & Coffee (Friday), Kamehachi (Saturday) and Taco Joint (Sunday). Music is a strong component, too, with performances by Janelle Monae and Gary Clark Jr. (5:30 p.m. Thursday); Lucinda Williams and Jeff Tweedy (4 p.m. Saturday); and Nickel Creek and Emmylou Harris (5 p.m. Friday).
When: Noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Chicago Avenue between Damen Avenue and Wood Street
How much: $5 suggested donation
Don't miss: With a main stage presented by one of the city's most-loved music venues, Empty Bottle, it's no wonder this modest-sized fest in West Town continues to book top musical acts. This year, Lee Fields & The Expressions headline Saturday (8:30 p.m.) while Death headlines Sunday (8:30 p.m.). Daytime bands aren't too shabby, either, with performances from Mannequin Men (1 p.m. Sunday) and Chris Forsyth & The Solar Motel Band (4 p.m. Saturday).
When: 10 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Southport Avenue at Waveland Avenue
How much: $5 suggested donation
Don't miss: Just a few blocks from Wrigley, this laid-back Lakeview fest features vendors across a range of media from jewelry to watercolor to acrylic to photography. Browse their wares and catch music from tribute bands Too White Crew (8 p.m. Saturday) and 16 Candles (8 p.m. Sunday).
When: 6 p.m.-1 a.m. Friday; noon-1 a.m. Saturday; 11 a.m.-11 p.m. Sunday
Where: Irish American Heritage Center, 4626 N. Knox Ave.
How much: $15 Friday and Saturday; $20 Sunday
Don't miss: The 29th annual festival features more than 100 performers across five stages, including Irish step dancers and instrumentalists, plus Irish and American food. Expect unusual fun in the form of a Mashed Potato Eating Contest, Freckle Contest, Men in Kilts Contest and a Fine Spirits Tasting Tent with offerings to help loosen you up.
When: 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday
Where: Palmer Square, Kedzie Avenue at W. Palmer Square
How much: Free to attend
Don't miss: This quirky beer-and-bike celebration rolls through Chicago again with a bike parade (11 a.m. Saturday; preregister at 10 a.m. or at eventbrite.com), live music and, of course, New Belgium brews including Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Snapshot wheat, 1554 black lager and others. Arrive early for the best access to bike parking.
When: 5-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-9 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lincoln Avenue between Montrose and Wilson avenues
How much: $10 suggested donation
Don't miss: More than 50 acts across five stages include almost every genre across the musical spectrum, from Grammy-winning Cajun legends Steve Riley & The Mamou Playboys (8 p.m. Friday) to indie folk rockers Ivan and Alyosha (9 p.m. Saturday) to Chicago-based bluegrass trio Big Sadie (12:15 p.m. Sunday). The beer lineup is a cut above the average fest offerings, meaning you can beat the heat with a cold one from 5 Rabbit, Temperance, Half Acre, Vander Mill, Lagunitas, Ale Syndicate and others. Keep an eye out for Jo Snow shaved ice cones, cheeseburgers from Gather, grilled cheese from Cheesie's, poutine from Bistro Campagne and more snack options from local restaurants.
See RedEye's full summer festival schedule (through September!) at redeyechicago.com/fests.