A Little Time and a Keyboard: Celebrating Our Country at Travel America Summer Festival

Celebrating Our Country at Travel America Summer Festival

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

** Disclosure:  We received complimentary admission tickets to conduct an accurate review.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions are 100% my own.

We recently spent an enjoyable afternoon taking in the offerings at Travel America Summer Festival, held July 5th and 6th, at the Morton Arboretum.  The event aimed to introduce visitors to the diverse regions of our country via food, live music, dance performances, games, storytelling, pie-eating contests and tram tours of the Arboretum's collection of trees indigenous to the United States.

It was captivating to watch the high-energy, interactive show performed by the Native Pride Dancers, which featured music and a blend of modern and traditional Native American dance.  Performer Larry Yazzie (the troupe's founder/artistic director) wore brightly colored ribbons, feathers and beads as part of his costume honoring his heritage.  He managed to educate and entertain as he performed, dancing out amongst the crowd seated on the lawn.  At the end of the performance, fellow troupe member Christal Moose thanked people for watching and reminded them that what they had just witnessed "...is not just an act; it is our heart."

We managed to listen to a few music acts during our visit.  There was Trillium, an American folk music quartet whose ethereal sound was highlighted by the hammer dulcimer and banjo.  Additionally, we heard music from Shindig!, who performed pop and rock from the '60s, and the group 1976, who specialized in songs from the '70s era.  I found all were excellent bands that my husband and I quite enjoyed.  My nine-year-old, who is unfamiliar with pop music predating 2010, was not so enthused about the '60s or '70s musical fare.  This just reminded me that (1) there is a definite generation gap, and (2) I really need to step up her musical education!  I know she's unlikely to ever prefer Jefferson Starship and Van Halen over Katy Perry, but exposing her to some of the classics might give her an appreciation of what's gone before. Maybe.

After participating in some traditional games like bean bag toss and potato sack race, my daughter (and my hubby and I) were ready to refuel.  We sought out food from the line-up of food trucks brought in for this event.  Guests could choose from Husky Hog BBQ, Chicago Pizza Boss, Taquero Fusion or Toasty Cheese.  The latter offered gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches, and my husband raved over his choice:  a sandwich comprised of duck bacon, Provolone, fresh spinach and arugula with cherry tomatoes and aioli on panini.  It was truly a great twist on an all-American classic!

The Morton Arboretum put together a great roster of activities for Travel America, and I'm sorry we didn't get to experience everything.  They will be putting on several more similar-themed cultural events in the next couple of months. Destination Asia will be held the weekend of Aug. 2nd-3rd, and the following month brings Passport Europe on Sept. 6th and 7th. You can check it out at www.mortonarb.org/events.

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