Dig in, Chicago; the Taste is back for another year. (Jason Little/For RedEye )
This weekend's summer fashion must-have? Elastic. Waist. Pants. Three major food festivals—Taste of Chicago, newcomer Windy City Smokeout and Roscoe Village Burger Fest—pile on the barbecue, burgers and food truck fare, while bands rock Taste, West Fest and Square Roots. Comfort is the name of the game when snacking and dancing, so leave the wedge sneakers and polyester stuff in the closet this time around.
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Windy City Smokeout
When: 3 p.m.-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-10 p.m. Sunday
Where: Rush Street at Illinois Street
How much: $30 for one-day passes; $60 for three-day passes
Don't miss: This new music and barbecue festival brings together all things Southern-tinged, from local and national pitmasters to some of the top names in country music. Load up on some of the city's best 'cue from Smoque, Lillie's Q and Bub City—plus beer, of course—while singing along with headliners Jerrod Niemann (8 p.m. Friday), David Nail (8 p.m. Saturday) and Pat Green(8 p.m. Sunday).
Roscoe Village Burger Fest
When: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Belmont Avenue at Damen Avenue
How much: $7 suggested donation
Don't miss: With a record 14 burger vendors this year—including six new sandwich-slingers—you'll have to be strategic about which ones to order. I'd go with patties from Indie Burger, Leader Bar, Butcher & The Burger, 25 Degrees and Cortland's Garage, then head to one of two stages for musical acts like The Super Happy Fun Club (4:45 p.m. Saturday), Trippin Billies (8 p.m. Saturday) and Kashmir (4:45 p.m. Sunday).
When: Noon-10 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Chicago Avenue between Damen Avenue and Wood Street
How much: $5 suggested donation
Don't miss: For a mere fiver, West Fest delivers on-the-brink bands that you'll probably see at bigger fests next summer. Make sure to catch sets by stripped-down punkers The Oblivians (8:30 p.m. Sunday), queer electro outfit Baathhaus (5:30 p.m. Sunday) and genre-bending Brooklyn-based duo Javelin (7 p.m. Saturday). A second stage also will host DJs organized around a "Chicago house" theme.
Taste of Chicago
When: 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Wednesday-Friday; 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and Sunday
Where: Grant Park (337 E. Randolph St.)
How much: Free admission; 12 food tickets for $8; Concert seating and chef demonstrations $25-$40
Don't miss: Love it or hate it, Taste is one of Chicago's iconic summer festivals, and organizers are shaking up the formula to attract new crowds. Fourteen food trucks will park near the Petrillo Music Shell during the evenings' concerts, which this year include Fun (5:30 p.m. Wednesday), Estelle and Robin Thicke (5:30 p.m. Thursday), Neon Trees (4 p.m. Sunday) and others. Many of the seats for these shows are sold out, but lawn seating is free. Additionally, special pop-up booths will include restaurants such as Pecking Order (Thursday and Friday), Terzo Piano (Sunday) and Taco Joint (Friday and Saturday).
When: 5-10 p.m. Friday; noon-10 p.m. Saturday; noon-8 p.m. Sunday
Where: Lincoln Avenue between Wilson Avenue and Montrose Avenue
How much: $10 suggested donation
Don't miss: For its second year, Square Roots plans another weekend of diverse music and craft beer. Breweries from around the region, including Hinterland, 5 Rabbit Cerveceria, Vander Mill and Founders will pour their flagship beers as well as some seasonal specialties while four stages host acts presented by Old Town School of Folk Music. Though the acts may not be familiar, the jam bands, global musicians and yes, a Beatles and Grateful Dead singalong, should provide a low-key beer-drinking soundtrack.
Upcoming fests: July 19-21: BenFest (North Center), Pitchfork (Union Park), Taste of River North; July 20-21: Celebrate Clark Street (Rogers Park), Sheffield Garden Walk & Music Festival (Lincoln Park); July 21: Chinatown Summer Fair
See the full summer fest schedule at redeyechicago.com/fests.