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Chicago Jazz Festival turning 32 and it's free
On the Road
By Jacky Runice | Daily Herald Correspondent

Telluride Blues & Brews Festival is Colorado's best beer and blues amid the scenic San Juan Mountains, Sept. 17-19.

 

Courtesy of Barry Brecheisen

Weave your way through the largest corn maze in the world at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Ill.

 

The city's longest-running lakefront music festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival, keeps the beat Sept. 2-5.

 

Courtesy of city of Chicago

Yodeling is encouraged at the Wilhelm Tell Festival in New Glarus, Wis. Sept. 3-5.

 

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Published: 8/29/2010 12:04 AM

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The city's longest running lakefront music festival, the Chicago Jazz Festival turns 32 and this year's performers at the free fest include Nicole Mitchell, Henry Threadgill, Brad Mehldau, Ramsey Lewis, Brian Blade and the Fellowship Band, Rene Marie, The Either/Orchestra and Kurt Elling. Venues include Grant Park, the Chicago Cultural Center and Millennium Park. Bring the kids for their own activity area.

Noon-5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 2; noon-9:30 p.m., Friday, Sept. 3-Sunday, Sept. 5. Millennium Park, Jay Pritzker Pavilion, North Michigan Avenue and East Randolph Street; Chicago Cultural Center, 77 E. Randolph; and Grant Park Jackson Boulevard and Columbus Drive, Riff on chicagojazzfestival.us or call (312) 744-3315.

Nip/tuck is your luck

Celebs of the world get nipped and tucked to look better whether they're movie stars or grand hotels. Following a multimillion dollar facelift to its Historic Tower in the 2010 summer, the InterContinental Chicago Magnificent Mile is offering a handful of value-driven packages this fall. Explore Chicago from your location right on Michigan Avenue and steps from the lakefront, major department stores, cultural institutions and restaurants. Active travelers may like the Bike Chicago Package with overnight accommodations for two, discounted bicycle rental, and complimentary breakfast for two. The Economic Stimulus Package includes overnight accommodations for two, plus a $50 food and beverage credit that can be used at any of the hotel's three restaurants, 50 percent off valet parking, complimentary high-speed Internet access, and free access to the fitness club and the hotel's historic indoor pool. Check out the Chicago Neighborhood Package and the Magnificent Mile Shopping Package, too.

Rates begin at $259 and availability ranges from now until Dec. 15, depending upon the package. Call (312) 944-4100 or visit icchicagohotel.com. 505 North Michigan Ave.

No such thing as a free lunch?

Midwest foodies can snag a complimentary ticket to Bon Appétit Presents Chicago Gourmet 2010 via the Bon Appétit and Chicago Gourmet Dine Around. From Monday, Aug. 30, to Wednesday, Sept. 26, dine at five of the 50-plus participating Dine Around restaurants, save five receipts in the official Dine Around receipt holder (available at all participating restaurants) and earn a free one-day ticket for either Saturday, Sept. 25, or Sunday, Sept. 26. The general admission ticket is valued at $150 and provides access to all cooking demos, tasting pavilions, seminars and book signings. During the monthlong Dine Around, some participating restaurants offer a special prix-fixe option with beverage pairings by presenting sponsors and other restaurants will offer their regular menus, either receipt is valid toward the complimentary ticket. Participating city and suburban restaurants include Riva at Navy Pier, RL, Sunda, Berghoff Restaurant, Morton's The Steakhouse, The Bristol and many more. Chicago Gourmet 2010 features chefs (such as Rick Bayless, Art Smith and Graham Elliot Bowles), master sommeliers and speakers, wine and spirits exhibitors and tastings.

Sept. 24-26, Millennium Park. Only one person will be admitted per free ticket. Visit chicagogourmet.org to view participating restaurants and menus.

Midwest

Yodel -ay-hee-ho

If all you know from Swiss is cheese, take a bite of out the Wilhelm Tell Festival in New Glarus, Wisconsin. More than 200 costumed locals (as well as goats, cows and horses) take the stage to celebrate Swiss Independence with extravagant performances of "Wilhelm Tell" in English and German revealing how Wilhelm Tell, his crossbow, and an apple helped Switzerland gain independence. Little Heidi and Hans may want to join the family camp-out complete with a traditional Swiss campfire, ethnic songs and yummy treats. Awaken to the sounds of alphorns and goats, just like in the old country. Browse the outdoor art fair and an array of one-of-a-kind shops.

Sept. 3-5. The festival in the park is free but Swiss Camping, Saturday, is $15 each or $35 for a family of four. Wilhelm Tell Pageant, Saturday (German, English) and Sunday (English), $10 and $5 for students. Trek over to wilhelmtell.org or give a yodel at (800) 527-6838 for more information.

Corny but amazing

There are corn mazes and then there's the planet's largest at 33 acres (that would be 25 football fields) at Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove, Ill. This year the main maze honors the Centennial of the Boy Scouts of America and a smaller remote one marks the 500th anniversary of the first decorated Christmas tree. There's easy access to and from 11 miles of trails and you can traverse between mazes on wooden bridges or climb the five-story observation tower to eyeball the whole thing. Even if you're not keen on doing the lab rat activity, you can still try the 700-foot zip line (there are smaller ones near to the ground for kids) or Zorb, roll across fields while strapped inside a giant 10-foot transparent plastic ball. A concession pavilion is open weekends in September or October offering seasonal goodies like homemade apple cider doughnuts, fudge and cocoa as well as pizza, Italian beef, burgers, hot dogs and more. While the kids are on wagon rides, the 50-Foot Tube Slide or the Paintball Gallery, you can sample a beer brewed right on the farm.

Wednesday-Thursday 3-10 p.m.; Friday 3-11 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m.-11 p.m.; Sunday noon-11 p.m. Labor Day and Columbus Day, 10 a.m.-11 p.m. Now through Oct. 31. Admission: $12.95 for ages 13 and up; $9.95 for ages 4 through 12; free for kids under 4. Admission covers activities but concessions, zipping, zorbing, pumpkins, goat/chicken feed and reservations for private picnic tables, campfires and wagon rides cost extra. Richardson Adventure Farm, 9407 Richardson Road, Spring Grove. (815) 675-9729 or RichardsonFarm.com.

You coulda been a contender

Rockford's known for two things: the home of Cheap Trick and Illinois' largest music festival, On the Waterfront. Twenty-five square blocks of downtown Rockford play host to seven stages offering hundreds of hours of music by top rock, country and jazz musicians: how about Adam Lambert for American Idol fans; Weird Al for, well, Weird Al fans; and nostalgic types will go for Gregg Rolie, founding member of Journey and Santana.

Nearly 40 food vendors satisfy bellies, nightly fireworks dazzle fest goers, while there will be carnival and activities just for kids, too.

6 p.m.-midnight Thursday, Sept. 2; 5 p.m.-midnight, Friday, Sept. 3; 11:30 a.m.-midnight, Saturday, Sept. 4; 11:30 a.m.-10:30 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 5. Three-day pass is $15. For details, go to onthewaterfront.com or call (815) 964-4388.

Worth the Trip

Tucked into a box canyon amid the forested cliffs of Colorado's San Juan Mountains, the entire town of Telluride, Colorado is a National Historic Landmark District. A great time to visit is during the Telluride Blues & Brews Festival, when the temps are in the high 60s, the beer is cold and the tunes are hot. See B.B. King, George Thorogood and the Destroyers with special guests Elvin Bishop and Eddie Shaw, Jimmie Vaughan and the Tilt-a-Whirl Band, Allen Toussaint, Cedric Burnside & Lightnin' Malcolm, Gospel Morning with The Otis Taylor Band and so many more. Participating breweries run the gamut from AC Golden to Twisted Pine Brewing Company. Count on late night shows at the local juke joints and after hours jams, free Acoustic Artist Series, Blues for Breakfast, The Rainbow Kids area and kids parade and the Telluride Acoustic Blues Competition. The three-day celebration of music and microbrews is held in Telluride an outdoor music venue framed by breathtaking mountains. Elevation Vacations is offering 15 percent off listed rates for guests using the promotional code 'Blues' at the time of booking.

Sept. 17-19. Telluride Town Park, Telluride, Co. A three-day pass is $160 and Juke Joint tickets are sold per night at $25. Festival camping is $40 per person. Friday and Sunday tickets can be purchased for $55 each and Saturday for $65. Purchase at tellurideblues.com or (866) 515-6166. Go to elevation-management.com for lodging.