The perfect summer dinner comes off the grill with symmetrical marks and can be eaten by anyone with teeth. It comes vegan, Kosher and even with parts we don’t talk about. July 19 marks National Hot Dog Day, a holiday worth celebrating in Chicago (with tomatoes, white onions, mustard, a dill pickle, sport peppers, the brightest sweet relish on the planet and a dash of celery salt). The Chicago Dogs are off for the day, but three other ballparks are happily serving their own versions of the Chicago dog: Kane County Cougars, Windy City Thunderbolts and Joliet Slammers.
The Chicago International Dragon Boat Festival is more than a series of races in Busse Woods; it also includes cultural performances, a Health Wellness Village, food trucks and a Kids Zone full of games and activities. For the uninitiated, Dragon Boat racing dates back more than 2,500 years. A portion of proceeds from the festival helps Adaptive Adventures, a Wilmette-based organization that promotes sports opportunities for kids, adults and veterans with physical disabilities. 9 a.m.-4 p.m. July 28. Free.
Since we’re all about food, take a walk through some of the best food-centric fests around. Head west for the Naperville RibFest July 4-7, which includes ribs, a petting zoo and a magic show. Next, hit the Windy City Smokeout July 13-15 at the Chicago River for Southern-inspired fare from some of the best Chicago has to offer. Of course, Taste of Chicago runs from July 11-15, with Kids Eat Chicago on July 14-15. At the North Shore Taco Fest July 19-22 enjoy the area’s best taco-centric restaurants. If you’re willing to travel across state lines, the annual Pierogi Fest in Whiting, Ind., is good for those looking for all things polka and pierogi July 27-29. Finally, check out “That’s Weird, Grandma: Stories About Food,” a play from tales written by Chicago Public School students and performed by Barrel of Monkeys. It runs July 23 through August.