Courtesy of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
Harriet Baskas
May 31, 2018

Father’s Day and oodles of weddings are officially on deck for June, but don’t pass up the chance to celebrate the blues in Chicago, see a century’s worth of tractors in Iowa, learn about bourbon in Kentucky, and make music on the summer solstice — all for free.

Get the Blues

Chicago hosts dozens of free music festivals year-round, but the Chicago Blues Festival, June 8-10, is the Windy City’s largest music festival and largest free blues festival in the world. The party takes place in Millennium Park with four stages celebrating the Chicago-born music tradition and Chicago blues legends.

100 Years of Tractors

2018 marks the 100th year John Deere has been in the tractor business and a big celebration is planned for June 15 and 16 in Waterloo, Iowa. In addition to live music and an exhibition showcasing 100 years of tractors and tractor innovations at the Waterloo Convention Center, there will be a tractor pull and other activities at the John Deere Tractor and Engine Museum in town. Admission is free.

Can’t make it to Iowa? The Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of American History features rare and classic John Deere tractors in two temporary exhibits put together for the “Year of the Tractor.” Admission is free.

Celebrate National Bourbon Day at a Whiskey Museum

It’s appropriate that the grand re-opening of the newly renovated Oscar Getz Whiskey Museum in Bardstown, Kentucky takes place June 14, which is National Bourbon Day. The museum is home to more than 5000 whiskey-related artifacts, including real moonshine stills, a 600-piece decanter and bottle collection and a mean-looking mannequin portraying temperance advocate Carrie Nation swinging her hatchet. Admission is free.

Courtesy of San Antonio Museum of Art

San Antonio’s Tricentennial Celebration Continues

On June 22, the San Antonio Museum of Art opens “Spain: 500 Years of Spanish Paintings from the Museums of Madrid,” an exhibition featuring more than forty masterpieces by the likes of El Greco, Goya and Picasso. Regular adult admission, with exhibit entry, is $20, but you can see the exhibit for just $5 during hours when general admission is waived: Tuesdays 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. and Sundays 10 a.m. to noon.

Make Music This June

Logan, Ohio, home of the Columbus Washboard Company, hosts the free Washboard Music Festival on Father’s Day weekend, June 14-16. Events include a parade, live bluegrass, folk and washboard-rich music, kids activities and free tours of the last remaining full-time washboard factory in the United States. Keep an eye out for the world’s largest washboard.

Want more music? June 21 (the summer solstice) is Make Music Day around the world, with more than 4,500 free outdoor concerts, music lessons, jam sessions and other music-making events scheduled in more than 70 U.S. cities. Bonus: Come evening, many any iconic buildings and landmarks around the country will be lit orange to mark Make Music Day.

Courtesy of Destination Niagara USA

Renew Your Vows and Break a World Record

Considering renewing your wedding vows? You can do it with 1,201 other couples on Goat Island, overlooking Niagara Falls — the Honeymoon Capital of the World — on June 23 and you’ll help break the Guinness World Record for the largest vow renewal ceremony. Registration is free, but all couples must bring photo IDs and their marriage certificates to the event. For helping, all participants receive a commemorative t-shirt, a Certificate of Participation and a free buffet at a local casino.

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