September 18, 2008

Get out there and play

Celebrate the transition into fall the German way, through an Oktoberfest celebration Oak Park style. This year’s OakToberfest, held this Friday and Saturday, will have you feeling fall-ish with its zucchini races, root beer and beer gardens, music and local samplings of fall food. Traditionally Oktoberfest was a 16-day festival in Munich, Germany, celebrated since the 1800s in honor of the marriage of Therese of Saxe-Hidbughausen to the future King Ludwig I. While horse races were held at the original Oktoberfest, the 17th OakToberfest will hold zucchini races for kids. After decorating their zucchini of choice, kids can race their mean-green-vegetable-mobiles down a ramp to the finish line. After the big race, kids can head to the Root Beer Gardens in the family activity area on Marion Street. The family area will also host karaoke, arts and crafts, games and face painting. All kids’ activities will be held from noon-5 p.m. Saturday.OakToberfest is held in downtown Oak Park between Marion Street and Forest Boulevard. Admission is free. Visitors are encouraged to ride their bikes or take the CTA to reduce traffic, help the environment and save gas. For a full line up of musical acts and more information, call (708) 383-4145 or visit

Get out there and play some more

Play in style this weekend with an Italian twist at Italian Style 2008. Designed to celebrate Italian culture, industry and style, the expo features Italian automobiles, fashion, culinary delicacies and plenty of activities for the kids. Hosted at Navy Pier, 600 E. Grand Ave., Festival Hall A, Chicago, Italian Style will unveil the new Alfa Romeo 8C Competizione for the first time in the United States on Saturday. If one exotic car isn’t enough, Ferrari, Maserati and Lamborghini are on hand for more engine revving fun. Kids can also climb into the latest farm and construction equipment from several Italian manufacturers.The expo is also hosting culinary seminars and tastings, fashion shows and live music. Tickets are at the door, but discounted tickets are available at local Italian merchants throughout the Chicagoland area, kids under 12 are free. For a full list of merchants, visit the Web site. Expo hours are 2-9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (312) 553-9137 or visit

Outdoor fun

If your family loves the ooey-gooey sweet treat better known as cheesecake, add Eli’s Cheesecake Festival to your list of things to do this weekend. Cheesecake-related activities include the Jessie White Tumblers flying over a giant cheesecake, a kids’ cheesecake eating contest, cheesecake bingo and a cheesecake Hula Hoop contest. But the festival isn’t all about cheesecake, from a classic car show and live music to kiddie rides and martial arts demonstrations.Eli’s Cheesecake Factory is located at 6701 W. Forest Preserve Drive, Chicago. Admission to Eli’s Cheesecake Festival is free, but some activities are extra. Receive a free slice of cheesecake with a donation of any non-perishable food item. The festival runs 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. A dock sale will be held from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. For more information, call (800) ELI-CAKE (354-2253), or visit

Piece of the prize

This week, one lucky Chicago Parent reader will win a“Barbie and The Diamond Castle” prize pack, which includes a Princess Liana doll, Princess Alexa doll and Glimmer the winged horse, all of which play music and light up, and“Barbie and The Diamond Castle” on DVD. To win, visit our discussion board.

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