SummerStage, New York, NY -- June 8 to August, 12 2007

We love anything in New York City that is free, especially when it is outdoors, and Central Park SummerStage ( is the premier summer arts festival in the city. Offering performances of classical and contemporary music, dance, spoken word and opera, New Yorkers and visitors alike flock to the park with picnic blankets and baskets in hand to enjoy the free shows on warm weekends. Some of this year's SummerStage highlights include Cassandra Wilson (June 15), Television, The Apples in Stereo and Dragons of Zynth (June 16), Comedy Central Park (June 22), Neko Case and Eric Bachman (July 20), David Parsons Dance Company and Cedar Lake Contemporary Ballet (July 27), Wild Style 25th Anniversary Screening and Reunion with The Chief Rocker Busy Bee/The Cold Crush Brothers/Grand Master Caz/DJ Grand Wizzard Theodore (July 29), Camille A. Brown and Philadanco (August 3) and Zap Mama, Angelique Kidjo and K'Naan (August 12). In addition to more than thirty free performances each season, SummerStage hosts a handful of benefit events to support the free festival. SummerStage is located at Rumsey Playfield in Central Park, accessible by entering at 69th Street and Fifth Avenue. Admission to all free events is on a first come, first served basis with no tickets required.

Boston Harborfest, Boston, MA -- June 28 to July 4 2007

Boston's spectacular waterfront and historic downtown area are the places to be for a week of festivities with over 200 events -- most of which are actually free. Boston Harborfest ( attracts huge crowds and celebrates the nation's independence with historical re-enactments, guided tours of historic buildings and landmarks, tall ship rides, walks, daily concerts, theatrical performances, children's activities and a chowderfest where visitors can vote on their favorite soup. The event culminates in the traditional July 4th fireworks on the Esplanade and music from the Boston Pops Orchestra. Monday July 2 is the 13th annual Children's Day at Boston's City Hall Plaza with a wide variety of educational activities put on by the USS Constitution Museum, Historic New England and the New England Aquarium. Entertainment especially designed for the pint-sized includes juggling and games by Fly by Night, musical performances by Wayne Potash and the Music Fun Band and lots of balloons. See the Harborfest website for a day-by-day schedule of events and pricing.

All-American Soap Box Derby, Akron, OH -- July 21, 2007

Indianapolis may have the summer all sewn up for Formula One action, but Akron Ohio has the next-best thing -- the Annual Soap Box Derby ( -- billed as the "Greatest Amateur Youth Racing Event in the World". A youth initiative of NASCAR, this event has been revving up Derby Downs in Akron for 70 years and attracts participants from the US and overseas. The Soap Box Derby season runs year-round in over 170 cities and communities across the country and abroad culminating in the All-American Soap Box Derby Championship in Akron. Each competitor builds his or her own gravity-powered car from kits purchased from the AASBD, usually with assistance from a parent, sibling or friend. Vehicles by definition have to be home made to take to the almost 1000-foot racing track designed specifically for the competition. Somehow this event becomes a week-long affair leading up to the final race day featuring a track parade and the traditional celebrity Oil Can Trophy Race with races in various age divisions. The goals of the Soap Box Derby program have not changed since it began in 1934 -- to teach youngsters the basic skills of workmanship, the spirit of competition and the perseverance to continue a project once it has begun. The top three place winners in each division and age group are awarded money towards college scholarships.

Evel Knievel Days, Butte, MT -- July 26 to 28, 2007

Nothing says 1970's adventure excess and pop culture with a dash of danger than daredevil Evel Knievel. This year, his hometown of Butte celebrates the sixth annual Evel Knievel Days ( For these three days, the otherwise quiet former copper mining town pulls out all the stops for Evel and his fans with three days of events including a parade, poker run, social, fireworks, music performances, a classic motorcycle and car show, Knievel paraphernalia on sale and the new EVEL exhibit. You won't see Evel back on his bike, but you can get up close and personal with him and follow him as he rides in the Batmobile in a bike procession around town on Friday evening. The event in Butte is timed to attract riders on their way to Sturgis or visitors cruising through the Big Sky Country to Yellowstone National Park three hours away or Glacier National Park five hours away.

Oregon Brewers' Festival, Portland, OR -- July 26 to 29, 2007

According to reliable but possibly inebriated beer sources, Portland has more breweries per capita than Munich so it is only fitting that the city plays host to the annual Oregon Brewers' Festival (tel. 503/778-5917; This year celebrates the 20th anniversary of the four-day festival that attracts close to 60,000 ale-loving indulgers. Over 70 individual beer companies and microbreweries will be participating and you can even bring the kids (although their beverage intake will be restricted to the root beer section). Joining the breweries are industry exhibits by hop growers, maltsters, homebrewers, collectors, and national beer writers. Entertainment includes musical performances with bands like Richard Cranium and the Phoreheads, Johnny Koonce and 3 Mile Long, Black Lodge Singers, Disco Organica, Sauce Policy, Left Hand Monkey Wrench, Stone Porridge and Mars Retrieval Unit. The event takes place at Tom McCall Waterfront Park and general admission is free but you will need to purchase a $4 souvenir mug for consuming beer, plus $1 tokens for each beer taste. To encourage sensible drinking and not driving, free bicycle parking is offered each day and the location is one block off the MAX Light Rail Line.

Maine Lobster Festival, Rockland ME -- August 1-5, 2007

Maine is famous for its crustacean celebrations and the 60th annual Maine Lobster Festival promises seafood lovers a chance to bib-up and indulge in the ocean's most delicious bounty. Admission to the event which is held at Harbor Park is free on the first day (Hometown Day) and the following three days early admission to the grounds is $7 until 3pm and $10 from 3pm. Children ages six to11 are $2 and children under five years are free. The final day adult admission is $7 all day. Four-day admissions passes can be purchased at the Main Gate on the first two days of the festival for $25 for adults and $5 for children (All prices are based on 2006 prices as the 2007 prices are yet to be posted). The festival itself boasts the world's largest lobster cooker, professional and amateur cooking contests, all you can eat pancakes, a sea goddess, a parade, daily entertainment, an international lobster crate race, fine art, crafts people and vendors, US Navy ship tours, US Coast Guard Station tours, marine heritage, road races, kids events, views of Penobscot Bay and most importantly the consumption of over 25,000 pounds of lobster. In addition to lobster, you can choose from steamed and fried clams, fried Maine shrimp, shrimp cocktail, steamed mussels and traditional Maine treats.

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