Putting Lollapaloza aside, which happens in August, this weekend is the hands-down biggest weekend in the Chicago festival season. Let’s tick off just a sampling of the music and neighborhood festivals that are happening this weekend:
Chicago Blues Fest
But one of the great events this weeknd will be the Northcenter/Lincoln Square neighborhood’s Ribfest Chicago. This is a true rib cook-off, and the competition gets stiff. Competitors have been known to try to coax or even steal ballots for the best ribs at the festival, so make sure you hang onto your ballot after you receive it at the gate.
One of the best aspects of this festival is that with so much happening at the city center, traffic will be snarled. Ribfest Chicago is well served by public transit, a short walk from the Brown Line and right on the CTA Irving Park bus line.
The Blues Fest is a lot more crowded than it was when I was a teenager, and those crowds can be hard to escape. Ribfest offers a full lineup of rock bands, featuring the Features, The Spinto Band, Megafaun and Heartless Bastards to name a few, on two stages. It’s a good alternative for a music festival that doesn’t draw visitors in from around the world. Plus, Friday night is Ribmania III, the Midwest’s only professional rib-eating contest.
The cost can’t be beat—FREE. We’ll they’ll as for a $5 donation to support many worthy neighborhood institutions, but if you can afford it, the music and spectacle are absolutely free.