Exuberant Summer Evenings

The long summer days of August are a treasure in the Chicago area.

For some parents of toddlers and young children, however, the late afternoon can seem to stretch on endlessly. What is a mom or dad to do after a long day of work, when it is not quite bedtime, and the kids seem to have enough energy to run around the block several more times?

PHOTO: A smiling girl holds her completed Garden Bingo sheet and a fistful of candy.
An afternoon win of Garden Bingo is even sweeter with an evening picnic.

Come to Dancin’ Sprouts at the Chicago Botanic Garden! Every Wednesday in August, a different kid-friendly band strikes up the music on the Esplanade, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Children and their grown-up friends fill the grassy area with blankets, chairs, and high energy. Each group engages these young, enthusiastic audience members, and the children are dancing, singing, jumping, hopping, and smiling from ear to ear.

Against the backdrop of Smith Fountain and the Garden lakes, the sun sinks in the sky, and the children skip and dance until they’re just about ready for bed. The parents and caregivers can head home knowing they’ve spent a summer afternoon just as it should be spent!

There are still four weeks of concerts left this summer (here’s the schedule)! Grab a few friends and make it a Dancin’ Sprouts picnic party!

PHOTO: A dad dances with his daughter, who is amazed by some bubbles in the air.
The dancing is great here—the bubbles are the icing on the cake.

While you’re planning your Garden visit, don’t miss the Summer Family Fun Pack, which includes parking as well as admission to Butterflies & Blooms and the Model Railroad Garden for up to five people!

©2014 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org

Raise a Glass to Repeal Day!

Say “prohibition” and lots of other interesting words immediately spring to mind. Speakeasy. Bootleg. Moonshine. Now add a new phrase to that list: Repeal Day.

PHOTO: a Post-Repeal Day truck sports a sign with the slogan, "Happy Days are Beer Again!"Repeal Day is December 5. Why that date? Because on December 5, 1933, Utah cast the ratifying vote to repeal Prohibition, bringing to an end more than 13 years of a national ban on the sale, manufacture, transportation — and consumption! — of alcohol.

Although the Eighteenth Amendment was intended to reduce crime and poverty by curbing all things alcohol, Prohibition didn’t quite turn out that way:

  • Speakeasies became more numerous than the saloons they replaced.
  • Average citizens became illegal “bathtub gin” distillers.
  • Violence and crime skyrocketed.
  • Gangsters found a foothold in society by transporting and selling liquor.

By the time the Twenty-first Amendment repealed the Eighteenth (the only time in history that’s happened), citizens had realized that prohibiting alcohol also prohibited:

  • Toasting your son or daughter on his or her wedding day.
  • Pressing the grapes you tended all summer into the wine you served all winter.
  • The simple enjoyment of a cold beer on a hot day.

With that in mind, the folks at repealday.org decided to mark “a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation, the legitimacy of the American bartender as a contributor to the culinary arts, and the responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a sacred social custom.”

PHOTO: Enjoy Holiday Cheers! on December 5.In the spirit of Repeal Day, we are hosting our first-ever Holiday Cheers! Seasonal Tasting event on December 5, from 6 to 8 p.m.  A who’s who of Chicago distillers, brewers, and winemakers will be there to offer tastings and teachings about the city’s burgeoning spirits scene.

Join us to raise a glass to the grapes and the grains and the hops that make it all possible.


PHOTO: A great book: The Homebrewer's Garden.Fun reading/resources at our Lenhardt Library:

The Encyclopedia of Chicago keeps you flipping from topic to topic, 100 Years of Brewing takes you back pre-Prohibition, and The Home Brewers Garden helps you plan next year’s garden.

©2012 Chicago Botanic Garden and my.chicagobotanic.org