May Days: There’s more than football in Chicago

American-Beer-SmallFrom the Saturday, May 2, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


By Dave Wischnowsky

Chicago isn’t the Windy City this week. It’s Draft Town.

But for the rest of May, it’s back to being itself – and that’s a pretty great thing if you’re looking to visit soon to enjoy all that Chicago offers during the springtime. Here are a few suggestions for the coming weeks.

May 9: American Beer Classic

If you’ve ever been there for a Chicago Bears game, a concert or any other kind of sporting event, you may have had a beer at Soldier Field.

But have you ever had a beer on Soldier Field?

It not, you can on Saturday, May 9, during the American Beer Classic at the venerable stadium. Featuring more than 30 participating local and national breweries serving up 200-plus beers, the ABC enables you to taste your way around the nation by simply covering 100 yards.

The event includes two sessions, from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and from 3-6:30 p.m., with the second typically less crowded. After attending the last year, here’s my tip: Don’t try to run a fly pattern inside the roped-off middle of the Soldier Field turf. A guy tried that last year, and security sacked him like he was Jay Cutler.

For tickets and more information, visit

May 15-17: Chicago Mayfest

During the summertime, Chicago’s Street Fest scene is vaunted. And each year for the past two decades, it vaults into action with Chicago Mayfest, which celebrates its 20th anniversary this month.

Held at the corner of Ashland and Barry (3100 N. Ashland) about 1.5 miles southwest of Wrigley Field, the event features a beer garden, street food and, at 11 a.m. on May 17, the Chicago Pet Pageant.

If you’re attending a Cubs that weekend, it’s worth popping over to Chicago Mayfest either before or after the game. Meanwhile, if you’re in town May 28-31, you can check out Mayfest Chicago – a completely different (yet quite confusing) German-themed festival held in Lincoln Square. For more details about the latter event, visit

May 24: Bike the Drive

I’m a runner, not a cyclist. But if I was, I’d definitely do “Bike the Drive,” which allows cyclists – for one morning only – to cruise down Lake Shore Drive when the city closes the thoroughfare to cars.

Six years ago, I walked for a couple of blocks down the middle of an empty Lake Shore Drive when it was shut down to traffic following the 2009 “Snowmageddon” blizzard. That was quite cool (as well as cold), and I imagine that actually biking the length of the Drive in warm weather is far better.

Participants in “Bike the Drive” can ride south from Byrn Mawr Avenue to the Museum of Science industry (and back) – a distance of 30 miles round-trip – during the five hours of car-free time, beginning at 5:30 a.m. For details, visit

May 29-31: Do Division Street Fest

Back for the ninth year, the Do Division Fest is a live music bash, an outdoor shopping bazaar, a street food festival and a family event all rolled up into one.

Held along Division Street from Damen to Leavitt in Chicago’s West Town neighborhood, the festival features two live music stages from Friday through Sunday. On Saturday and Sunday afternoons, a Family Fun Fest will offer pony rides, face painting, balloon artists and more.

Throughout the weekend, the festival’s popular Sidewalk Sale will be filled with wares from a variety of local establishments and this year will also include the “Do Fashion” section with runway shows and designer pop-up stores.

For more information, visit