NEAR WEST SIDE — Some of the best authentic cuisine and entertainment Chicago has to offer will be served up in a pair of street festivals this weekend on the Near West Side.
But there's no shortage of events to tempt you to go outside and enjoy some sunshine and culture. Here are six events happening in West Loop, Pilsen and near West Side this weekend.
Taste of Greektown: Sample the freshest Mediterranean dishes Greektown has to offer for the 28th Taste of Greektown. Nine of the historic Halsted strip's acclaimed restaurants will serve up kabobs, gyros and other Greek fare starting at Halsted and Van Buren.
Feeling really hungry? There's a gyro eating contest at 6 p.m. Saturday open to people 21 years and older. The first eight individuals who sign up from 3:30 to 5:30 p.m. will compete for a $250 gift card.
Participating restaurants include Artopolis bakery and Cafe, the 40-year-old Roditys Restaurant and Santorini, which flies in fresh seafood for dishes like a Greek-style whole red snapper and black sea bass.
Greek band performances and kids activities are also planned for the weekend fest.
(For added fun, see how many different ways you hear people pronounce "gyro" over the course of the three-day fest. FYI, the experts at Athena pronounce it "yee-ros.")
4 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 400 block of South Halsted Street, Greektown. Suggested $5 gate donation for the Greektown Chamber of Commerce.
Villapalooza: Seven years ago, Villapalooza was founded to promote non-violent spaces for arts, culture and community engagement. The free, all-ages music festival brings nationally acclaimed artists and local acts to three stages at 26th Street and Central Park Avenue.
This year, headliners include Afro-Argentinian reggae musician Fidel Nadal, New York's Combo Chimbita and Grammy-nominated fronterizo indie artists The Chamanas.
Food vendors include El Campeon, Cebollita, Taquieria la Ciudad and Gaby's Funnel Cakes. A kids and family zone will have dance performances, cartoon mascots, free face painting and candy bags, games and raffle prizes. Local nonprofit organizations and dozens of neighborhood artists and retailers will also have booths at the fest.
Get the party started Friday with the official kickoff party at Bar Ten Doors, 1251 W. Taylor St., where The Chamanas will perform along with Future Rootz, Bumbac Joe and Quinto Imperio starting at 8 p.m. Tickets to the kickoff party are $10 and help support the free festival.
There is also a free after party Saturday at Caminos de Michoacan, 1659 W. Cullerton St.
Noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, West 26th Street and South Central Park Avenue. Free.
Organizers estimate 5,000 people attended Villapalooza in 2014. [Facebook/Villapalooza]
Randolph Street Market Festival: More than 300 vendors gather at the "mecca of cool" known as the Randolph Street Market Festival each month. A combination of antiques, indie designs, modern vintage wares and holiday items, the festival is both indoor and outdoor during summer months.
Across eight acres of shopping, vendors have food and drink specials, a vinyl swap meet, global goods bazaar and antique appraisals. Find restoration, repair and gold buying services and explore booths with vintage clothing, jewelry, collectibles and furnishing.
Save $2 buying ahead of time online or pay $10 at the gate for tickets, which are good for both days of the festival. Spend more to add on tote bags, early bird access, family packages or a girlfriends package that comes with a drink per person.
10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, 1340 W. Washington Blvd., West Loop. $10 general admission.
Open Books West Loop Sidewalk Sale: Get books for a fraction of their cover prices during the annual sidewalk sale at the city's first nonprofit bookstore. Children's books are $2, while other paperbacks are $3 and hardcovers $4.
All used books in the store are 25 percent off, as well.
Noon to 6 p.m. Friday, Saturday and Sunday, 651 W. Lake St., West Loop.
Stargazing in the West Loop: Learn about constellations and planets from experts at Chicago Astronomer on Friday.
This free event will give parents and children a chance to try out telescopes at Mary Bartelme Park. West Loop Families organized the event and will offer more information about its events, programs and free family memberships.
7 to 9:30 p.m. Friday, Mary Bartelme Park, 115 S. Sangamon St., West Loop. Free.
Summer Fest West: Even if kids aren't ready to head back to school in a few weeks, parents are surely eager to see them off. To get in the school spirit, Summer Fest West will have a parade and festival Saturday. School physicals and a book bag giveaway will be offered along with food and games.
Listen to Theo Huff and the New Agenda Band croon out some jazz or enjoy watching choirs face off in the All Star Gospel Choir Competition. Hip hop act Crucial Conflict is also set to perform.
The free festival is hosted at the Marshall High School campus park with Chicago Community Alliance and 28th Ward Ald. Jason Ervin.
11 a.m. parade followed by festival from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday; Marshall High School, 3300 W. Jackson Blvd., East Garfield Park.