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File Under “Free”

Put the “free” back in “free time” with these don’t-miss picks for the week of 07.22.09 through 07.28.09: harrowing derring-do in the heart of downtown … family road trips, now with more lasers … a small-town fest with a taste for kitsch—and pierogis

WHEELS OF FORTUNE: The big winner from Sunday’s Chicago Criterium takes home $25,000.


Put the “free” back in “free time” with these don’t-miss picks for the week of Wed 07.22.09 through Tue 07.28.09:


farrago Chicago Criterium
Since debuting last year, this now-annual bike race—a harrowing 1.1-mile closed-course loop rife with hairpin turns in the heart of downtown—has been named the best crit in the U.S. by the sport’s governing body. Think Breaking Away, only with less townie angst.
GO: July 26. Amateur and pro races run from 7 to 5. Free. Buckingham Fountain, Grant Park, Columbus and Congress. chicagocriterium.us


farrago Newberry Library Book Fair*
Early bibliophiles get the worm at this 25th annual book sale: While 110,000 volumes are on offer, the real jackpots—including a 1933 copy of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, signed by the real-life inspiration for Alice—will go quickly.
GO: July 23, 24 from noon to 8; July 25, 26 from 10 to 6. Free. Newberry Library, 60 W Walton. www.newberry.org


dance Luna Negra
Chicago’s premiere Latin dance company has a knack for choosing equally lauded musical collaborators. Here the Grammy-winning Brazilian vocalist Luciana Souza joins the troupe in an outdoor performance we would pay to see—but don’t have to.
GO: July 22, 24 at 6:30. Free. Pritzker Pavilion, Millennium Park, Michigan and Randolph. millenniumpark.org


museums Fred Anderson and Here/Not There
We’re loving the MCA’s free summer programming. On the back patio this Tuesday: The estimable local saxophonist Fred Anderson plays as part of the museum’s ongoing jazz series—and when Anderson gets cooking, just try to convince yourself you’re listening to an 80-year-old man. Meanwhile, in the 12 x 12 gallery: The artist Justin Cooper kicks off the final week of the performance-art series Here/Not There. Remember those backseat squabbles from family road trips of yesteryear? Cooper’s Crater takes its inspiration from those—and adds lasers.
GO: July 28. Concert at 5:30; performance art at 7. Free. Museum of Contemporary Art, 220 E Chicago. mcachicago.org


farrago Pierogi Fest
Some street fests subsist on bad bands and overpriced beer. Pierogi Fest takes a different tack: tacky (in a good way). Groups marching in the Polka Parade include the Babushka Brigade and the Precision Lawn Mower Drill Team (think scantily clad dads); other highlights include Eastern Bloc Jeopardy and, of course, a pierogi-eating contest. Go hungry.
GO: July 24, 25 from 11 to 10; July 26 from 11 to 5. Free. Indianapolis Blvd and 119th St, Whiting, Ind. pierogifest.net


Read about goodies—a love letter, an Abraham Lincoln campaign ribbon, porn—the Newberry team has found over the years among books donated for its annual sale, just one entry in fair manager Dan Crawford’s eminently readable (and dangerously time-sucking) book fair blog.


PHOTOGRAPH: Courtesy of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events


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