By: Travis Harvey (Illinois State University)

The summer season marks the beginning of an exciting time in Chicago, It’s the time of year where strangers become friends and friends could possibly become more. I’m talking about festival season! Sure we have the well known Taste of Chicago, Lollapalooza, and who can forget the Chicago Air and Water show… actually I’ve never wanted to attend the Chicago Air and Water show just thinking about it kind of makes me want to take a nap. Apparently there are two million people who want to see this every year…and it’s in its 52nd year maybe I’ll check it out, probably not.

Chicago has over 85 festivals during the summer in all of its neighborhoods and neighboring suburbs. The best part of the festivals is that majority of them are free to enter, so if you feel like just wandering the streets and meeting people go right ahead, but don’t forget food and drink do cost money at most, if not all, of these events.

Movies are a great summer activity that you can do with your friends or significant other it may not be a festival but Movies in the Parks is an event that takes place multiple times throughout the summer beginning June 18th.  Movies that are shown are both classic and current attractions, so you better believe some of those summer blockbusters from this summer and last will be played.

Another great thing about the festival season in Chicago is that usually they are to raise money or awareness about good causes in the Chicago land area. The Belmont/Sheffield music festival (May 29-30) is a benefit for the Central Lakeview Merchants Association. The benefit includes a few bands that are no stranger to the Bloomington-Normal community such as, Your Villain My Hero, Too White Crew, and Wedding Banned all of which are local favorites at Daddios in downtown Bloomington.

Chicagoans love their food and music, and what’s not to love? Chicago is home to great food and music, so it’s no wonder that a lot of the festivals revolve around food and music. Do you like ribs? Because I know I do and this summer I will take the time to hit up the two different festivals that revolve around my favorite summer food. Ribfest Chicago (June 11-13) This is the 12th annual North Center neighborhood bash some of the features include live music on two stages, local food vendors, a rib eating contest and kids’ activities now this sounds like my kind of party. Windy City Ribfest (July16-18) is the exact same thing except in a different neighborhood.

Finally while this is nowhere near the last event of the summer, it is however one of the most widely known events in the Chicago land area. The Taste of Chicago (June 25-July 4) has everything you can ask for in a festival and more. Booth’s from some of the major restaurants in Chicago and free live music on several stages. Admission to the event is free like most, but for $8 you get a strip of 12 food and drink tickets. This may seem a bit pricey since most food items cost at least 4 tickets for a small portion, so my advice is to get a small group (4-6 people) together and pool your money. Some don’t like the Taste of Chicago because the event draws large unruly crowds sometimes and the reason you go to festivals is to relax and have fun, but I think the large crowds are a part of Chicago’s persona.

Summer festivals always get me in the mood to cut loose and relax and that’s honestly what summer is all about right? If not I missed a memo somewhere along the way and basically I don’t care. I just want to go out, meet some strangers, and end my summer festivals with my own fireworks, if you know what I mean.…. Get your mind out of the gutter I meant I have a bunch of sparklers.

Tags : BeercharityChicagoChicago Air and Water ShowFestivalfireworksFoodFourth of Julylollapaloozalollapalooza festivalRibfestRibfest ChicagoSummerSummer Festivalstaste of chicagotaste of chicago festivalWindy City