Shopping for something to do in Chicago?

Today’s newspaper column from The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.)

Shopping for something to do in Chicago?


Aug. 27, 2011

Some people believe that the best cure for a hangover is a Bloody Mary. So, perhaps, it isn’t all that off-the-wall what Chicago is prescribing this month as a remedy for the recession.

Retail therapy.

This weekend, the Windy City (M.D.) launches “The Magnificent Mile Shopping Festival,” which is being billed as “the first shopping festival of its kind in the nation.” The event actually kicked off at 5:30 a.m. on Friday morning in Pioneer Court with Carson Kressley of “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” fame headlining and giving away a $5,000 shopping spree to one lucky bargain-hunter.

If you missed that early bird start, the festival runs through Sept. 8, meaning that your credit card still has plenty of time to get a workout along one of the world’s most famous shopping avenues.

Throughout the two-week event, appearances by fashion designers, athletes and other celebrities are scheduled at shops along Michigan Avenue, as well as a variety of in-store celebrations and promotions. The fest’s intent is to focus on five categories: fashion and beauty, lifestyle, culinary, technology and culture.

No sports. Sorry, fellas.

For more information and a full schedule of events, you can visit

However, if shopping the Mag Mile doesn’t fit your bill – or your bills – there’s plenty else to do in Chicago as August rolls over into September. Here are a few events to keep in mind …

September 1-4: Chicago Jazz Festival

A Labor Day Weekend tradition for 33 years, the Chicago Jazz Festival is the longest running of the city’s lakefront music fests. It again will bring some of the world’s best jazz musicians into town for performances at the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.) and in Millennium Park and Grant Park.

Let’s hope the grass at the latter has recovered from rain-soaked Lollapalooza.

Admission is free, and highlights include the “Saxophone Summit” on Sept. 2, vocalist Cassandra Wilson on Sept. 3 and two-time Grammy Award-winning trumpeter Roy Hargrove on Sept. 4.

For more information, visit

September 14-16: The Berghoff Oktoberfest

Originally opened in 1898, The Berghoff (17 W. Adams St.) is the oldest family-run restaurant in the Loop. And from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. on Sept. 14 through Sept. 16, it will hold its 26th annual Oktoberfest at Federal Plaza on the corner of Adams and Dearborn streets. Admission is free.

This year’s event will feature classic Bavarian-style German food, beer and live entertainment. But, most deliciously, it will also include an attempt to break the Midwest record for the longest bratwurst by unveiling a 45-foot sausage on Sept. 15, between 3 and 5 p.m.

Eat your heart out, Abe Froman.

Bites of the brat will be sold on Sept. 15 as a fundraiser for Mercy Home for Boys and Girls.

For more information, visit

September 23-25: Chicago Gourmet 2011

For those who consider the Taste of Chicago to be too pedestrian for their palates, there is Chicago Gourmet 2011.

Held in Millennium Park and considered the city’s more upscale food extravaganza, the event features culinary samples and demonstrations from some of Chicago’s best chefs, including Rick Bayless, Graham Elliot Bowles and Stephanie Izard. There also are sommelier-led wine seminars for vino fanatics.

Like shopping on Michigan Avenue, however, the event isn’t cheap. Admission is $150 per day, while two-day passes are $250. Food seminars are included with each ticket.

Other ticket prices include, $175 for the Grand Cru event and $75 for the Hamburger Hop. Ticket holders must be 21, although children 5 and under can attend for free with a paying adult.

For more information, visit