Don’t worry that summer went by too fast. Yummy autumn festivals abound in the Chicago area. When nights turn chilly and rustling leaves blow across paths, it’s time to harvest grapes, pick apples and celebrate fall. Here are six fun festivals where you can eat, drink, be entertained and enjoy the outdoors.
Wells Street Wine Crush
West North Ave. at North Wells St.
Chicago, IL 60610
Dates: Sept. 14 through Sept. 15, 2013
Held in Chicago’s Old Town neighborhood, Wine Crush celebrates the fall grape harvest with wine tastings, music, food, family activities and art fair. Formerly called “The Crush,” the festival was an end-of-summer celebration held the first weekend of September. Either way, it is a chance to visit the area’s unique food, clothing and gift shops.
Long Grove Apple Fest
Downtown Long Grove
Old McHenry Road at Robert Parker Coffin Road
Long Grove, IL 60047
Dates: Sept. 27 through Sept. 29, 2013
A is for autumn and apple as in the annual Apple Fest in the northwest suburban Long Grove. A historic village settled in the mid-1800s, the town’s covered bridge, brick walkways, boutiques and antiques are fun to visit anytime. But Long Grove is an even more popular destination during Apple Fest when tables are set out with everything apple from fresh and carmel-coated to donuts and pies and from hot and cold cider to martinis and lattes. The sounds of bluegrass, jazz and country music come from stages at Fountain Square.
St. Alphonsus Church
1429 W. Wellington
Chicago, IL 60657
Dates: Sept. 27 through Sept. 29, 2013
Think beer, brats and bands. However, Sunday afternoon features “Kinderfest” family activities. The festival flows around the grounds and inside St. Alphonsus, a Roman Catholic Church built in the 1800s. The church is in Chicago’s West Lakeview neighborhood near Southport and Lincoln Avenues.
Related: Fall Favorites Off The Beaten Path
Fall Bulb Festival
Chicago Botanic Garden
1000 Lake Cook Road
Glencoe, IL 60022
Dates: Oct. 4 through Oct. 6, 2013
Come, even if you are not a gardener, because the Botanic Garden’s festival is about more than bulbs. If you appreciated locally sourced products, stop at the farmers’ market for cider, cheese, honey, vegetables, baked goods, pumpkins and pottery. The booths spread outside the Regenstein Center’s education and exhibition building on the Esplanade. Families will want to come for the bale-maze, mini-scarecrows and leaf-rubbing. To find flowers you want to plant this fall for next spring’s color, stop inside the Regenstein Center for alliums, tulips, narcissus, daffodils and other bulbs. Bulb sales open to the public at noon Friday after giving members first sort-through from10 a.m. to noon, but the market opens mid-morning each day.
Harvest Days At The Farm
Lincoln Park Zoo
Cannon Drive at Fullerton Parkway
Chicago, IL 60614
Dates: Oct. 5 through Oct. 6, 2013
Maybe your youngsters won’t ask which came first, the chicken or the egg, but they can visit barnyard animals and chat with animal handlers. They can also do fall crafts, decorate pumpkins and snack on harvest-themed cookies. Save time to also visit the zoo’s other inhabitants.
Downtown St. Charles
West Main Street (IL Hwy 64) and North Fourth Street
St. Charles, IL 60174
Date: Oct. 11 through Oct. 13, 2013
Whether you enter a scarecrow in the festival’s contest, make a scarecrow with materials handed out for free or come just to see the event’s more than 150 scarecrows and vote for a favorite, the popular St. Charles festival is fun for all ages. Sample local dishes in “Tastes of Greater St. Charles” and check out arts and crafts booths in “Autumn on the Fox.” Add in the Windy City Amusement Carnival, a paddle-wheel river-boat ride and a hike along the Fox River make the event a full day’s outing.
Related: Best Hiking Trails in Chicago
Jodie Jacobs is a veteran journalist who loves writing about Chicago, art, theater, museums and travel. Her work can be found on Examiner.com.