By Elaine Hegwood Bowen, M.S.J., Chicago Crusader
Ravinia Festival is in full swing, now, after having a few early opening acts that included Diana Ross, Anita Baker, Jill Scott and Mary J. Blige. The slate for African-American and minority (even though there is nothing minority about these acts) artists is strong this season at the venue, which is located in Highland Park on the North Shore. The season closes on September 16, and many acts are scheduled to perform that are worth planning to include an early evening of entertainment, fun and food at Ravinia.
While Baker made her first appearance at Ravinia since 2012, Ross was there in 2016. Songstress and actress Scott made her first appearance in late June, and Blige was the recent Friday night artist to bring throngs of folks from across the area—either by car or more easily by Metra train to the venue. I have been on a number of trips going home to Northbrook and have seen people using the convenient commuter train system to travel to the venue.
Upcoming concerts include one of the most successful producers in music history, David Foster (who’s worked with Barbara Streisand, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, Michael Jackson, Madonna and other giants), on August 5. On September 6, the ever busy actor and rapper 50 Cent will grace the Ravinia stage for the first time.
On September 16, there will be the day-long third annual Fiesta Ravinia, a family festival of Mexican culture and arts in celebration of Mexican Independence Day. The immensely popular and influential norteño band Los Tigres del Norte headlines with Mariachi Flor de Toloache. Fiesta Ravinia also features Galli Lucha Libre, comedian Joey Villagomez, Chicago Mariachi Project and the Folklorice Dance Company of Chicago.
Other acts include Whoopi Goldberg on August 3; Earth, Wind and Fire on August 17; and celebrating the 300th anniversary of New Orleans on August 26, “Trombone Shorty’s Voodoo Threauxdown” features an electric and eclectic collection of Big Easy artists, including Trombone Shorty & Orleans Avenue, Galactic, Preservation Hall Jazz Band, New Breed Brass Band, Walter “Wolfman” Washington, Cyrill Neville and Kermit Ruffins.
And finally, the incomparable Tony Bennett performs in his 39th Ravinia concert on September 8.
This is not an all-inclusive list of Ravinia Festival acts, which can be enjoyed in the pavilion or in lawn seats (where people can enjoy good food, drinks and community within a picnic setting). For those who would rather purchase their food on the premises, Ravinia features the Lawn Bar, Ravinia Market, 847 Burger, Pizza Classico and Smokehouse 1904, which offer a variety of food options to please all palettes.
More information about artists, prices and performance dates, as well as the new dining options at the venue, located at 200 Ravinia Park Road, Highland Park, IL, can be obtained here www.ravinia.org.