THIS WEEKEND IN CHICAGO – Enjoy It – Before All the Non-Stop Holiday Hoopla Begins!

Oh Boy!  Now that Halloween is behind us, the holidays will be here before you know it.  But, we’ve got this weekend to enjoy first with a variety of fun and slow-paced events before the non-stop holiday hoopla begins!!

What better way to start off a comforting weekend than at the Mac and Cheese Fest this Saturday at the UIC Forum (725 W. Rd.) in the University Village/Little Italy neighborhood.  This isn’t just ordinary mac and cheese though.  This fest features many variations spanning continents and cultures including truffle braised duck mac & cheese and white cheddar and chorizo macarón con queso.  It’s all going down in two sessions (lunch – 12 p.m.-3 p.m. & dinner – 6 p.m.-9 p.m.).  Your ticket includes all-you-can-eat macaroni and cheese, as well as five drink tickets for beer, wine, or mixed drinks.  And, this year, TWO Golden Noodle’s will be awarded for the ultimate mac & cheese showdown!

In celebration of both autumn and holiday pies, the South Side Pie Challenge returns this Saturday (2 p.m.-5 p.m.) to the Hyde Park neighborhood (5480 S. Kenwood Ave.).  Free and open to the public, pie slices will be available for $3 each, benefiting the Hyde Park/Kenwood Hunger Programs.  There will also be live music from favorite local performers, coffee, and activities for the kids.  The Challenge is open to all amateur bakers as well.  Entrants can find rules, details, and entry forms on the website.  Ribbons and prizes will be awarded to the top 3 in each pie category (fruit, nut, sweet potato/pumpkin and crème)!

Chicago craft beer fans can come together to celebrate their love of American beer culture at the 7th annual BeerHoptacular this Saturday at Session 1 (12 p.m.-3 p.m.) or Session 2 (6 p.m.-9 p.m.).  This event takes place at the awe-inspiring Cinespace Chicago Film Studios (2565 W. 15th Pl.) on the Near West Side, which is the current filming home of Chicago Fire, Chicago PD, and Chicago Med.  In addition to 150+ craft beers, BeerHoptacular will also feature some of Chicago’s favorite food trucks, their annual homebrew competition, a DJ, a beer bicycle, a live insult booth, and much more!

Chicago’s longest-running and most popular art fair returns to Navy Pier’s Festival Hall (600 E. Grand Ave.) in the Streeterville neighborhood this Saturday (11 a.m.-7 p.m.) and Sunday (12 p.m.-6 p.m.) with SOFA Chicago!  Dedicated to three-dimensional masterworks of contemporary art and design in all media, SOFA (Sculpture Objects Functional Art and Design) features nearly 80 national and international galleries. It also features acclaimed lecture series and special exhibits exploring the artwork and surveying new trends in the art world.  And, new this year are Consultations with Art Curators and a French Pavilion highlighting French galleries and artists!!

An iconic Chicago holiday tradition, Macy’s Great Tree Lighting takes place this Saturday (12 p.m.) at Macy’s Walnut Room (7th floor) on State Street (111 N. State St.) in The Loop.  This year marks the 110th lighting of the Great Tree with special guest, Jordan Smith, the best-selling artist in “the Voice” history.  The Great Tree measures 45-feet tall, hangs from the Walnut Room’s ceiling, and has over 2,000 ornaments and 6,600 sparkling lights!  The opening of Santaland (5th floor) and the 50th year of animated window displays will also be celebrated!!

Who’s Ready for the Holidays Anyway!