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David Lissner
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Feast the fall at Chicago’s free October festivals

Beer, apples, cheesecake, Italian food … Chicago’s fall festival season gets into gear this week with something for everyone. Here are some highlights:


MIDWEST MICROFEST.
Park Grill in Millennium Park hosts a free beer tasting from eight Midwest craft breweries noon to 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3. They’ll be pouring brews from Bell’s in Kalamazoo, Mich.; Dark Horse Brewery in Marshall, Mich.; Capital Brewery in Middleton, Wis.; Lakefront Brewery in Milwaukee; Three Floyds Brewery in Munster, Ind.; Two Brothers in Warrenville and Goose Island and Metropolitan in Chicago.

Rick Gresh

Rick Gresh

David Burke’s Primehouse kicks off its OctoBeer Fest series of beer dinners Sunday, Oct. 4, through Wednesday, Oct. 7, with Chef Rick Gresh’s very own handmade homebrews. Succeeding days offer dinners built around Two Brothers, New Holland and Goose Island beers.

Each evening begins with a 6:30 p.m. beer reception, followed by Gresh’s four-course dinner matched with brews. One meal costs $55; two are $95 and all four evenings, $175.

Apple Fest

APPLE TIME. Long Grove offers bushels of fun tomorrow through Sunday, Oct. 4, with the 17th annual Apple Fest. Famous brown-bag apple pies and cider donuts from Long Grove Apple Haus, hot apple cider, caramel apple lattes, apple martinis and other apple treats feature throughout the historic village, not to mention bushels full of tree-ripened apples.

Five stages showcase folk, bluegrass, country, rock and jazz with artists such as Dave Tampkin and Brazilian guitarist Paulinho Garcia. Family fun includes pony rides, face painting, and educational booths. Admission and parking are free.

(If you don’t get your apple fill there, be at Green City Market in Lincoln Park at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 7, when chefs Sarah Levy of Sarah’s Pastries and Candies on the Gold Coast, Alex Cheswick of May Street Market in West Town and Pat Sheerin of the Signature Room in Streeterville will be demoing apple-based dishes and passing out samples.)

Eli's Cheesecake

CHEESECAKE! Eli’s Cheesecake World in Dunning hosts the annual Eli’s Cheesecake Fest Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 3 and 4, with culinary demos, carnival games, O’Leary’s Fire Truck, Midwest Rails Modular Railroad, the Cheesecake Olympics and — most important — free cheesecake samples!

Live music includes Letterbomb, June’s Got the Cash, the Karen Hart Band, the Neil Rose Band, Charming Axe and Band on the Run. Admission and parking are free.

Flag of Italy

ITALIAN FEED. The Joint Civic Committee of Italian Americans celebrate their heritage with Fiera Italiana, a free outdoor festival from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday, Oct. 5–9, at Daley Plaza in the Loop. Wine tastings, culinary demonstrations, and food booths from a variety of local vendors and sponsors, such as Gene & Georgetti in River North, feature. Lunch hour entertainment includes performances by Paul Ciminello, Franco Campanella, Paul Miuccio, Tony Spavone, Enzo Incandella and Paul Motondo.