Chicago Folk & Roots Festival
Saturday-Sunday at Welles Park; $8
The Old Town School of Folk Music's eclectic annual fest may fly a bit under the radar of many Chicagoans, but to know it is to love it (especially if you've got kids in tow). Don't be fooled by the name, as you'll find a whole lot more than just folk music here; this year's eclectic lineup includes throwback soul (Austin's Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears), Mediterranean electro (France's Watcha Clan) and what we'll describe as Indian-inspired club sounds (Karsh Kale, from New York).
Friday-Saturday at Lakeshore Theater; $20
Fans of Mitch Hedberg, Steven Wright and even Jerry Seinfeld will find something to love in the humor of this offbeat comedian, perhaps best known for his role as Dave, the pawn-shop owner in HBO's "Flight of the Conchords." Barker's sense of humor is both straightforward and absurd - for evidence, watch a few episodes of his online animated series, "Arj and Poopy," which features a cat who communicates via flatulence.
Tour de Fat
9 a.m.-4 p.m. Saturday; free
Lovers of beer and biking should head to Palmer Square Park (Palmer and Kedzie) on Saturday for a taste of both, as New Belgium Brewing Company's annual Tour de Fat kicks off with a stop in Chicago. There'll be a bike parade, lots of music (from Mucca Pazza and Sean Hayes) special performances (from the Squirm Bumpee Circus, The Daredevil Chicken Club and The Sprockettes, Portland's original mini-bike dance troupe) and a whole lotta brews including the flagship Fat Tire Amber Ale. You'll also get to watch one lucky person (the winner of an online contest) give away his or her car to charity in exchange for a brand-new commuter bike.
There's still time to register for this festive, late-night loop through the city (the first group pushes off at 1:10 a.m.) - "like Woodstock on wheels," says one former rider. Crowds will cheer you on from Buckingham Fountain through Greektown, the West Loop and the North and Northwest Sides. Coffee and breakfast will be served at the fountain from 3:30-6 a.m.
Local bands, local food and a hip, artsy vibe dominate this fest that's also known for its pet-friendliness. Check out the groming stations and dog games in the Pet Fest area, or just head over to one of the music stages; this year's lineup includes Local H, Red Red Meat, The 1900s, Aluminum Group, Mucca Pazza and others.