Looking beyond Lolla: Cheap Chicago events this summer

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U.S. Navy Blue Angels jets pass each other travelling in opposite directions at low altitude over boats bobbing in Lake Michigan during the Chicago Air and Water Show at North Avenue Beach in Chicago, Illinois, on Saturday, August 18, 2012. (Armando L. Sanchez/Chicago Tribune/MCT)

With Pitchfork coming to a close last weekend and Lollapalooza right around the corner, festival season is in full swing in Chicago. However, these three day time-consuming and money-grabbing music extravaganzas are not for everyone. Others seek more relaxed activities that don’t lend themselves to mosh pit performances and ten hour days.

For those on the quest for cheap fun in the sun on a tight schedule and tight budget, there are many options out there for you in the Windy City. From cultural festivals to neighborhood street gatherings, it’s easy to enjoy the fleeting summer months before winter’s chill attacks again. Here is a list of five cheap Chicago events to check out this summer.

Wicker Park Fest

Dates: July 25-July 26
Cost: $5 donation
Location: On Milwaukee Ave., from North Ave. to Paulina St.

While some neighborhood festivals tend to fall flat, Wicker Park’s fest won’t disappoint. Described on the website as a fest that “is the definitive culmination of cutting edge music, celebrated local restaurants and unbeatable culture,” Wicker Park Fest showcases the best of the best of Wicker Park. Vendors include Enso Sushi & Bar, Beat Kitchen, Jerk 312 and Cheesie’s Pub & Grill. The fest is also family friendly. If music, food and culture don’t excite you, then this year’s art featured on the fest will. Sheryl Oring of North Carolina is featured as the interactive public performance art piece as she brings her nationally recognized piece, “I Wish to Say” to Wicker Park. In her piece, she invites the public to dictate postcards to the President by setting up a portable public office complete with manual typewriters. If anything, come to this fest to give the President a shout out.

Fiesta del Sol

Dates: July 30 – Aug. 2
Cost: Free
Location: 1400 W. Cermak

Fiesta del Sol is a celebration of Latino culture and also hosts the Guadalupe A. Reyes Scholarship Ceremony. Located in Pilsen, Fiesta del Sol boasts that it is the largest Latino festival in the Midwest. With tons of music and food vendors, including vendors from Churro Factory and La Bomba, the fiesta has come a long way from its block party roots and is now a nationally publicized event. Additionally, the fiesta is family-friendly and alcohol and tobacco-free. If you’re looking for some great food and a cultural immersion, Fiesta del Sol is the fiesta to be at.

Chicago Hot Dog Fest

Dates: Aug. 7-Aug. 9
Cost: Free
Location: Clark St. & LaSalle Dr.

Presented by the Chicago History Museum, it’s clear that hot dogs are an inherent part of Chicago’s history. This weekend celebration is dedicated to Chicago ‘dogs and features various hot dog vendors, bands and guest speakers. The cover bands represent a wide variety of musical tastes and include Kashmir doing a Led Zeppelin Tribute and Wedding Banned playing 80s and 90s top hits. The speakers are presenting on important topics such as Bill Savage’s “Ketchup: The Condiment of Controversy” and Rich Bowen’s “Adventures in the Weiner City.” Similar to the Taste of Chicago, food tickets cost $1 per ticket. If you buy tickets in advance on the website, however, you can save up to 20 percent on food tickets. Come celebrate Chicago and your love of hot dogs.

Chicago Air and Water Show

Dates: Aug. 15 – Aug. 16
Cost: Free
Location: Can be viewed along the lakefront from Fullerton to Oak St., with North Avenue Beach as the focal point

The 57th Chicago Air and Water Show headliners include the U.S. Navy Blue Angels and new this year, the Breitling Jet Team. Military and civilian teams perform in the show for the lakefront crowd and Herb Hunter, who has been the voice of the Air & Water Show for over 20 years, will return again. While there isn’t any food or music present at the Air & Water Show, it’s easy to pack your own while enjoying the parachute and plane stunts. Don’t forget to bring something to sit on as well.

The Bahá’í House of Worship

Dates: Year-round
Cost: Free
Location: 100 Linden Ave., Wilmette Ill.

For those seeking a relaxing and beautiful adventure in Chicago, take a trip to the Bahá’í House of Worship. This domed structure is surrounded by gardens and fountains and is open to the public year round. Visitors come for prayer, meditation and to see the beauty of the structure first hand. This temple is one of seven in the world and features a 135 foot white-stone dome that was completed in 1953. There are various programs and events that take place in the temple, including presentations on the Bahá’í faith on Sundays at 1 p.m. If you plan to visit the Bahá’í House of Worship, be mindful of the sacred space by dressing modestly and remembering that commercial photography at the Temple requires prior permission.