September 4, 2008

Get out there and play

You don’t have to sprechen Sie Deutsch—that’s German for‘speak German’—to enjoy a fabelhafte Festival—that’s‘fabulous festival’—in celebration of German-American heritage in Chicago. The German-American Fest, held Friday-Sunday, will host plenty of German-inspired activities, including dancing, singing, eating and even a parade.

The festival, located on Lincoln Avenue between Leland and Western avenues, kicks off Friday from 5-11 p.m. with two tents of live German music. Traditional singing and dancing societies will perform, including the Fanfaren Corps, a German drum and bugle corps based in Chicago. The festival is open noon-11 p.m. Saturday and noon-10 p.m. Sunday.

Help celebrate the memory of the Prussian-German army officer who volunteered to fight for General George Washington in the American Revolutionary War, Friedrich Wilhelm Ludolf Gerhard Augustin von Steuben, with the von Steuben German Day Parade. Although von Stueben’s name is tough, the details aren’t. The parade begins at 2 p.m. at 4000 N. Lincoln Ave. with floats, marchers in ethnic costumes and bands traveling to Wilson Avenue. The parade’s reviewing stand is located at Leland and Western avenues.

For more information, call (630) 653-3018 or visit

Get out there and play some more

Popcorn is more than just a movie-time treat. In fact, the puffed little corn kernels are so popular, there is even a festival dedicated to the relatively healthy snack. The 30th Annual Valparaiso Popcorn Festival is dedicated to the king of popcorn, Orville Redenbacher, who started his‘popping corn’ business in Valparaiso, Ind. The festival features live music, a kids’ play area and a popcorn parade.

Beginning at 10 a.m., the Orville Redenbacher Popcorn Parade will head down Calumet Avenue at Bush Street and north on Campbell Street to Ben Franklin Junior High School. The Kids’ Popping and Play Place, located at Lafayette Street south of Lincolnway, offers the little ones inflatables, games, food and storytelling during festival hours.

The festival coincides with the Kiwanis Hot Air Balloon Fest at the Porter County Fairgrounds. On Friday and Saturday evenings and Saturday morning, balloons will take to the air at dusk and dawn. A Night Glow will fill the skies with tethered balloons, set to music. The balloons use propane heaters to light up the balloons. Tethered Hot Air Balloon rides (handicapped accessible gondola) will also be available. Admission is $8 a carload. For more information, call (219) 464-2783 or visit

The 30th Annual Valparaiso Popcorn Festival is located in Downtown Valparaiso from 7 a.m.-6:30 p.m. Saturday. Admission is free. For more information, call (219) 464-8332 or visit

Outside fun

This Saturday, head for the shores of North Avenue Beach to watch flying hot dogs, pizza slices, corn and a team of flying Ditkas as they compete in the Red Bull Flugtag. German for flying day, the Flugtag will bring together creative and crazy amateur designers from across the country to show off their human-powered flying machines.

Thirty-one teams will“leap” their fliers off of a 25-foot-high flight deck and into the waters of Lake Michigan. All of the flying contraptions are homemade and include a few outrageous designs such as a flying mallard dedicated to the Nintendo game, Duck Hunt, and a flying‘El’ car. A panel of judges will decide the winners based on distance flown, craft creativity and showmanship. Oh yes, and all of the crafts must be entirely human-powered.

The first craft launches at 1 p.m., but it is highly recommended that you arrive at 11 a.m. when the gates open. The Red Bull Flugtag is free. For more information and team bios, visit

Piece of the prize

This week five lucky Chicago Parent readers will win a Charlie and Lola prize pack. The prize pack includes a Charlie Giggling Doll, Lola Giggling Doll and Sizzles the Dog. To win visit our discussion board.

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