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Black Harvest Film Festival, Mambo Kings and more things to do in and around Chicago Aug. 2-8

“Thee Debauchery Ball” at the Black Harvest Film Festival.
Gene Siskel Film Center

Celebrating black film

The Black Harvest Film Festival celebrates the history and legacy of African Americans and the African diaspora. The 25th anniversary edition of the festival features more than 50 films plus discussions with filmmakers. It gets under way with the world premiere of five new shorts by Midwestern filmmakers commissioned by the Gene Siskel Film Center. From Aug. 2-29, Gene Siskel Film Center, 164 N. State. Tickets: $6-$12. For more information, visit

Enter the universe

Cosplay at “Halo: Outpost Discovery.”
Brett Meister/Herschend Live

An innovative new fan experience for all ages brings the Halo video game universe to life. “Halo: Outpost Discovery” lets fans step into the game’s complex science fiction world via immersive themed attractions, interactive in-universe encounters, the latest playable game releases, panels and cosplay. From 1-9 p.m. Aug. 2, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Aug. 3 and 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 4, Donald E. Stephens Convention Center, 5555 N. River Rd., Rosemont. Tickets: $60-$140. Visit

African Diaspora lit

Soulful Chicago Book Fair
Amandilo Cuzan

Book lovers can check out the Soulful Chicago Book Fair, an outdoor festival celebrating black authors and literature from the African Diaspora. The fair, now in its fourth year, exists to “have the history, culture and experience for black people told by us for a change,” founder Asadah Kirkland said. The theme of this year’s fair is “Women Write and Reign,” as most of the 50-plus authors featured at the event are women. From 10 a.m.-8 p.m. on 61st between Cottage Grove and King Drive. Admission is free. Visit

Bauhaus textile design

A Sheila Hicks rug, circa 1965. Produced by V’SOSKE.
Art Institute of Chicago

The centenary of the German art school the Bauhaus is commemorated with the exhibit “Weaving Beyond the Bauhaus.” The output of the acclaimed school’s textile workshop is showcased in works by Anni Albers, Claire Zeisler, Lenore Twaney, Otti Berger, Gunta Stolzl, Else Regenstein, Ethel Stein and Sheila Hicks. The exhibit traces the impact these artists had on the landscape of contemporary American art as they expanded everyday conceptions of textiles. From Aug. 3-Feb. 16, Art Institute of Chicago, 111 S. Michigan. Admission: $19-$22. Visit

From small screen to stage

Claire Bowen
Activist Management

Australian actress Clare Bowen portrayed singer-songwriter Scarlett O’Connor for six seasons on the television show “Nashville.” Now she makes the singer-songwriter tag a reality as she embarks on her first headlining tour promoting her self-titled debut album. In her original songs, she delves candidly into her marriage, her childhood battle with cancer and more. At 8 p.m. Aug. 4, City Winery, 1200 W. Randolph. Tickets: $35-$48. Visit

Corn dog, anyone?

Butter cow at the Illinois State Fair

The Illinois State Fair gets under way Aug. 8 and continues through Aug. 18. As usual, there’s much to see, hear and eat. Grandstand performers include Montgomery Gentry, Vince Neil, Bad Company with Foghat, Dan & Shay, Pentatonix, Old Dominion, Snoop Dogg & Friends and Reba McEntire. A don’t-miss is the iconic butter cow located in the Dairy Building. At the Illinois State Fairgrounds, Springfield. Visit

Hot Latin night

Mambo Kings
Michael Zajakowski

The Latin jazz ensemble Mambo Kings brings its explosive blend of Afro-Cuban rhythms and jazz improvisation to Millennium Park. Backed by the Grant Park Orchestra, the performance includes tunes ranging from those of Tito Puente and Dave Brubeck to The Beatles and Gershwin’s “Cuban Overture.” There will be a free mambo lesson at 5:15 p.m. in the Chase Promenade North Tent. The music begins at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 7, Pritzker Pavilion, Randolph and Michigan. Admission is free. Visit

More festival fun

  • Find music, food and family fun at Jeff Fest, Aug. 2-4, Jefferson Memorial Park, 4822 N. Long. Visit
  • Italian culture and food is the theme of Festa Italiana, Aug. 2-4, Naper Settlement, Webster and Aurora, Naperville. Visit
  • The Edgewater neighborhood is the star of Edge Fest, Aug. 3-4, Broadway and Thorndale. Visit
  • Find artisans and their wares at Art at the Glen, Aug. 3-4, 2030 Tower, Glenview. Visit
  • Enjoy jam bands and a beer at Chicago Brewing District’s Dancing in the Streets, Aug. 3-4, on Hubbard between Paulina and Wood. Visit
  • There’s shopping and street fair fun at Maxwell Street Market Summer Celebration, Aug. 4, 800 S. Desplaines. Visit