Summer stays strong in Chicago through September

jazz-featureFrom the Saturday, Aug. 27, editions of The Daily Journal (Kankakee, Ill.) and The Times (Ottawa, Ill.) …


I find a reason to enjoy most months in Chicago – even the ones capable of producing a Snowmageddon. But out of all of them, September just might be my favorite.

The weather is generally a little cooler, but far from chilly. Football season is beginning just as the baseball season is really heating up. And while the kids have gone back to school, summer still isn’t over. In fact, in Chicago it’s going strong all September long.
And here are some ways to milk it for all it’s worth.

Chicago Jazz Fest
Sept. 1-4

Since 1979, the free Chicago Jazz Festival has declared as its mission on Labor Day weekends “to showcase Chicago’s vast jazz talent alongside national and international artists to encourage and educate a jazz audience of all ages.

This year’s incarnation – and education – kicks off with a session from noon to 4:30 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 4., inside the gorgeous rotunda of the Chicago Cultural Center (78 E. Washington St.), before an evening session at 6:30 p.m. at Millennium Park, where the festival is held the remainder of the weekend through Sunday.
For a full schedule and lineup of artists, visit

Sept. 8 & 23-25

One of the other great things about September in Chicago is that it allows you to enjoy “Oktober” early.

This year, the 31st annual Berghoff Oktoberfest ( is a month-long extravaganza kicking off on Sept. 8 with a Tapping of the Keg at 5 p.m. inside The Berghoff Restaurant (17 W. Adams St.) and with evening celebrations running Thursday-Saturday each week through Oct. 8.

Later in the month, Oktoberfest at St. Alphonsus Church ( will take place Sept. 23-25 with a lively street fest at 1429 W. Wellington Ave. outside the church with one of the most beautiful interiors in the city – and I’m not just saying that because I got married there.

Opera in the Park
Sept. 9

If jazz or German music isn’t your bag, then you might enjoy an evening of soaring vocals and orchestral music during the free Stars of Lyric Opera at Millennium Park, as people unpack picnic baskets and listen to some of the world’s finest baritones and sopranos belt out excerpts from operas by Mozart, Tchaikovsky, Wagner and more.
No top hat and tails required. Get details at

Mexican Independence Day
Sept. 10-11

Many think that Cinco de Mayo is Mexico’s Independence Day. It isn’t. Rather, Sept. 16 – officially known as Grito de Dolores – officially marks the beginning of the successful Mexican War of Independence against Spain. To honor the holiday, Chicago will be host a trio of free parades featuring floats, mariachi bands, street dancing and plenty of food.

On Sept. 10, the Pilsen Mexican Independence Day Parade will be held at noon on 18th Street and Newberry. On Sept. 11, the 26th Street Mexican Independence Day Parade will take place at noon at 26th St. and Albany, followed by the South Chicago Mexican Independence Day Parade at 2 p.m. Commercial Avenue and 87th.

Oyster Festival
Sept. 10 & 30

If you’re a fan of shellfish – specifically oysters – then September is your month in Chicago as the city hosts not one, but two, separate oyster festivals.

On Sept. 10, the 18th annual Shock Top Oyster Fest will be held in Roscoe Village along Roscoe street west of Damen featuring an array of hard shell culinary delights, beer and live music acts. For details, visit

Then on Sept. 30, Shaw’s Crab House will host its 28th annual Oyster Fest Block Party in River North at Hubbard and Rush streets featuring blues and shellfish. For details, visit

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