September 11, 2008

Get out there and play

If men in kilts, bagpipes and heavy athletics sound like your family’s version of a good time, head down to Celtic Fest Chicago this weekend in Grant Park, Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive, Chicago. There will be plenty of music, kids’ activities and Irish culture to enjoy, too.

On Saturday, men are encouraged to sport their favorite kilt for the Third Annual Men in Kilts Leg Contest at 4:50 p.m. If the contest just doesn’t have enough kilts, check out the Bagpipe Parades at 11 a.m. and 3 p.m. daily. Explore Celtic strength as men and women participate in the Scottish Heavy Athletics Competition in Butler Field, where they will throw a telephone pole, also called a caber, as far as they can. The competition takes place both days from 11 a.m.-2:30 p.m.

For a look at the softer side of the Celtic tradition, watch sheepherding demonstrations in Butler Field at noon and 2 p.m. daily. Kids can get in on the festivities at the Wee Ones Play Area and there will be plenty of music the entire family will enjoy. Music and performances from all seven of the ancient Celtic nations will be on nine stages throughout the festival. There is even a chance to learn Celtic dance. For a full music and performance line up, visit the Web site.

Celtic Fest Chicago is free and runs from 11 a.m.-9:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For more information, call (312) 744-3315 or visit

Get out there and play some more

You won’t need a tornado to land in Oz this weekend. Just follow the“yellow brick road” (a.k.a. Route 49) to the Indiana"Wizard of Oz” Festival. For fans of the 1939 movie, this is the place to go. Families can browse dozens of vendors with every Oz ware known to man (and lots of non-Oz things, too), meet Munchkins from the original movie and participate in look-a-like contests.

On Saturday from noon-2 p.m. you’re invited to attend Dorothy’s Birthday Party, hosted by Dorothy, Tin Man, Cowardly Lion, Scarecrow and Toto, too. Show off your talent at the first Oz Idol competition at 3 p.m. On Sunday, start the day with Breakfast with the Munchkins from 9-10:30 a.m. The look-a-like contests continue later in the day (including Dorothy calling and witch cackling contests) along with a re-enactment of Oz author L. Frank Baum’s life by his great-grandson and wife at 3:30 p.m.

The Indiana"Wizard of Oz” Festival is held at the Porter County Expo Center, 215 E. Division Road (corner of Route 49 and Division Road), Valparaiso, Ind. The arts, crafts and food booths are open 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Admission costs , kids and seniors, free parking. Dorothy’s Birthday Party tickets cost each and tickets for Breakfast with the Munchkins cost , kids 2-12. For more information call (219) 983-1691 or visit

Outdoor Fun

Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month on Saturday at Fiesta Salsa at Festival Park, 132 S. Grove Ave., Elgin, with plenty of salsa dancing, salsa eating and salsa music. The festival kicks off with a parade at noon, which follows a route from City Hall, 150 Dexter Court, to Festival Park. Live music and entertainment follow throughout the day.

For those who are feeling daring, try out your taste buds in the Salsa Taste Challenge or see how much heat you can handle in three minutes at the Jalapeño Eating Contest at 4:15 p.m. But spicy food isn’t the only thing heating up Fiesta Salsa, which includes the salsa dance competition and the“2 Hot 2 Spicy Automotive Super Show.”

Kids’ activities include inflatables, balloon artists, rides and face painters, with unlimited rides costing per child with a maximum for three or more children. For more information visit

Piece of the prize

This week, five lucky Chicago Parent readers will win limited edition"The Banana Splits” T-shirts in size 4-T. For more information on"The Banana Splits,” visit To win, visit our discussion board.

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