CityBeat Blogs - Eats http://www.citybeat.com/cincinnati/blogs-1-1-1-33-195.html <![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 11/21-11/23]]>

Things to leave the house for all weekend. Shopping. Holiday stuff. Music. Plays. Food. 

On Friday:

  • The Germania Society hosts a traditional German Christmas market all weekend — Christkindlmarkt — including hot mulled wine and Saint Nicholas.
  • ArtWorks hosts its last Secret ArtWorks fundraiser ever. Buy a ticket, get a secret 5-by-7-inch artwork. (Plus food, alcohol and live music.)
  • In other shopping news, BuyCincy (formerly Unchained Cincinnati) supports a weekend shopping-local initiative with more than 200 Northern Kentucky and Cincinnati small businesses. Buy local and get entered to win prizes.
  • You can also catch Hansel and Gretel (the opera) at CCM or Shakespeare's The Comedy of Errors at Cincy Shakes.
  • Jamaican Queens bring their imagining of an Electropop seance between Joy Division and Deadmau5 to MOTR Pub.
On Saturday:
  • Lots of sparkly holiday stuff. The Zoo illuminates with the annual Festival of Lights celebration (including the option to purchase hot chocolate with booze in it). Eden Park also lights up with Balluminaria — a dozen or so hot air balloons glow on Mirror Lake.
  • Northside hosts the Northside Record Fair. Find vinyl, cassettes, music memorabilia and more. Pay an extra $5 and get in an hour early.
  • Head to the Cincinnati Art Museum to check out some street art in curator Brian Sholis' Eyes on the Street.
  • If you miss the original Dusmesh, the former owners opened a new Indian restaurant called Swad in College Hill. Our reviewer tried it and the food tastes as good as you remember.  
On Sunday:
  • Go global. Before you overload on turkey next week, try a Taste of Lebanon. Lebanese food, desserts, music and more. 
  • The Victory of Light expo gets metaphysical with seminars on everything from tarot cards and past lives to astrology and meditation.
  • It's the last night for Jessimae Peluso, comedian and start of MTV's Girl Code, at Funny Bone on the Levee. 

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 11/14-11/16]]> If you're feeling super brave and think you can make it from your heated car into a heated venue, then, boy, do we have some events for you this weekend. 

Kicking off on Friday ...
  • Adorable and hilarious musical duo Garfunkel and Oates are at Bogart's tonight.
  • It also happens to be CityBeat's 20th birthday party tonight. Celebrate with us at happy hour at BLDG.
  • Grab your DD and trek yourself out to Jungle Jim's in Fairfield for their International Wine Festival. There's food, vino from around the world and private bathrooms (if you want to upgrade your ticket). It's on Saturday night, too.
  • Still have "Falling Slowly" from the 2006 film Once stuck in your head? Well, if you want to hear someone besides the film's lead Glen Hansard (from The Frames) singing it, you're in luck. Broadway in Cincinnati has brought the Broadway adaptation of Once to the Aronoff Center. Thirteen actors, one Irish pub and a lot of great music. (Through Nov. 23.)
  • It's also the last weekend to catch Into the Woods at the Covedale. (The film version, starring Anna Kendrick, Meryl Streep, Chris Pine and Emily Blunt, hits theaters in December.)
  • And beat the Black Friday crowd this weekend by buying up locally made and other crafty goods at the Greater Cincinnati Holiday Market. It goes all weekend, and coincides with the Cincy Specialty Food & Treats show. So if you want some ornaments, handmade soap or gourmet olives, the Duke Energy Center is the place to be Friday through Sunday.
  • If you just want to cuddle in a blanket all weekend and have food (pizza, Chinese take-out, etc.) delivered to you, here are Jac's TV recommendations.
Saturday? There's more stuff to do!
  • Local blistering Blues quartet The Whiskey Shambles release their new album at The Drinkery. The event also benefits Save the Animals Foundation.
  • Our film critic tt gave Birdman an 'A.' It's playing at the Esquire Theatre in Clifton.
  • Celebrate the warmth of Latin America at the Latin American Culture Fest at Union Terminal. There's a cultural market, dance, music and a Day of the Dead altar to open up the worlds of Mexico, Argentina, Peru, Colombia, Brazil, Cuba and Panama, right in Queensgate. 
  • Kaze is throwing a "Vogue to Rogue" dance party on Saturday to celebrate their split personality as a Japanese gastropub and an excellent party spot.
  • Something colder? How about on ice? It's Star Wars night with the Cincinnati Cyclones. First 1,500 kids through the door get a light saber. 
  • Krohn also kicks off its holiday floral show, Magic and Mistletoe. There's a tiny train chugging through the conservatory, running over bridges and replications of famous landmarks, all made out of willow and locally sourced natural material. 
Sunday…
And on Monday ...
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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 10/10-10/12]]>

 It's the weekend, y'all. 

And as it approaches 5 p.m. on a Friday, you're probably thinking to yourself, "What should I do this weekend?" Why not try one of these …

  1. Watch the all-OTR episode of Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Vine Street turns into Flavortown as Guy Fieri eats his way from Taste of Belgium to Senate and Bakersfield. Airs 10 p.m. Friday on the Food Network (and a bunch of other times.)
  2. See John Waters. The iconic, mustachioed Mr. Waters presents his randy and raunchy one-man monologue, This Filthy World, at Memorial Hall on Saturday at part of FotoFocus. “‘Filthy’ is a word I use as a compliment. To me, it still has a punk edge. It is a joyous word to me." - John Waters.
  3. Make some really effing good pasta. Chef Danny Combs from Sotto reveals how to make restaurant-worthy cacio e pepe (butter, spaghetti, Pecorino cheese and black pepper) at home.  
  4. Tackle the great white wale at Know Theatre. The theater presents Herman Melville’s classic 1851 novel, Moby Dick, adapted for stage Julian Rad.  Co-directed by new artistic director Andrew Hungerford and veteran avant-garde theater artist Michael Burnham, the script has been stripped to its essence and reimagined for Know’s intimate space. 
  5. Trick-or-Treat at the Zoo (or, if you don't have kids, grab a beer and watch different zoo animals try to figure out how to eat a pumpkin). Every Saturday and Sunday in October, the Cincinnati Zoo hosts HallZOOween with trick-or-treat stations, a variety of special pumpkin-themed animal activities with bears, cats, elephants and more and Hogwart’s Express Train Ride. 
  6. Eat some award-winning barbecueCincinnati Parks hosts the city’s first-ever sanctioned State Championship Kansas City Barbeque Competition, where guests can watch pro teams compete to make the perfect barbecue in categories based on meat type — and then taste the results. 
  7. Pick your own pumpkin. Or apples.
  8. Remember how cool books are Books by the Banks (and see Cincinnati native David Bell discuss his latest thriller.)
  9. Celebrate fermented cabbage at the 45th Ohio Sauerkraut Festival. This weekend, visitors to Waynesville, Ohio will eat more than seven tons of SnowFloss Kraut. If you want to tackle the crowd of 350,000, the Waynesville Chamber of Commerce gave us a game plan of some must-try sauerkraut dishes. (And a recipe to make at home in case you don't.) Festgoers must try:

  • Sauerkraut Pizza. Made by the Order of the Eastern Star Masons, the handmade pizzas come in whole pies or slices and are topped with tomato sauce, cheese, green peppers, onions and sauerkraut.
  • Cabbage Rolls. For more than 30 years, St. Augustine's Church has cooked cabbage rolls for the festival — recently, more than 10,000 per weekend. Cooked cabbage leaves are filled with ground beef, rice and spices and covered in tomato sauce.
  • Sauerkraut desserts. The Waynesville Chamber of Commerce will be serving up sauerkraut pie, sauerkraut fudge, sauerkraut brownies and sauerkraut cookies.
  • Sauerkraut Balls. A classic: breaded and fried sauerkraut and bacon, served by the Waynesville fire department.
  • German Sundae. This is a pile of potatoes, topped with kraut, sour cream, cheese, bacon and green olive. (Recipe below.)
Recipe for Sauerkraut German Sundae
Provided by the Sons of the American Legion Post 615, Waynesville

Ingredients:
5 to 6 lbs. sliced or diced potatoes
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. pepper
¼ lb butter

Instructions: Seal and bake in 13x9x2 inch baking pan for 1 hour and 45 minutes at 350. Place approximately 8 oz. in bowl and top with the following: 1 Tbsp. cooked sauerkraut; 1 tsp sour cream; and melted cheddar cheese (as desired). Sprinkle with bacon bits, top with green olive.  Makes 10-15 servings. 

For more ideas of things to do, see our staff picks


 

 

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 2/7-2/9]]>

Cincinnati Beer Week is in full effect, bringing craft beer tastings, pairings and brewery nights to bars and restaurants across the city through Feb. 13 (followed by the popular Cincy Winter Beerfest Feb. 14-15). Go here for the week’s highlights and find all of today’s CBW events here.

Balls Around the Block is a bar crawl with a mission: To expose more locals to the ever-changing downtown landscape by visiting several different local establishments in one night, all while raising money for a good cause. Twelve groups of 25 each begin at a different bar on the same block (so as not to overwhelm one establishment all at once) and continue progressing around to bars like Madonna’s, Rock Bottom Brewery, Igby’s and Nicholson’s.

It’s $35 to participate, with food and drink specials along the way. This year’s crawl benefits Fido Field, the privately funded off-leash dog area located at 630 Eggleston Ave. BATB hopes to raise $12,000 this year for the continued construction of Fido Field — the group raised $10,000 in 2013. Go here for more information, to make donations and to join a group for the crawl.

Cincy Blues Society’s annual Winter Blue Fest kicks off Friday at The Phoenix. More than 25 local Blues acts perform through Saturday including headliners Tinsley Ellis and Janiva Magness. Read more here.

Jungle Jim’s Big Cheese Fest is now sold out, but those with tickets are in for a day full delicious dairy from more than 80 cheese companies. More than 40 booths will feature varieties of local, artisan and international cheeses, charcuterie, breads, spreads and more. Beer and wine pairing options available at additional cost. The festival takes over Jungle Jim’s Oscar Event Center from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday. The Big Cheese Kick-Off Party (also sold out) is 7-10 p.m. Friday.

For more art openings, parties and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks, full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 8/30-9/2]]>

Local design, marketing and PR firm Peanut Butter & Jelly Co. hosts a Final Friday party tonight to celebrate the opening of its new Over-the-Rhine studio and the launch of a bi-annual PB&J-produced magazine. Guests will check out the fruits of a creative partnership between members of PB&J and Such + Such Designs, including furniture from the collection. The party runs 6-9 p.m. at the new studio at 1417 Main St., OTR. Valet parking is complimentary.

Cincinnati’s favorite mobile eateries invade West Chester for the first-ever Union Center Food Truck Rally Friday. Vendors include Café de Wheels, Waffo, EAT! Mobile Dining, C’est Cheese, SugarSnap! Truck, Red Sesame Korean BBQ and many more, plus plenty of beverages and live music The event is already in full effect, running until 10 p.m. Proceeds benefit The Girls and Boys Club of West Chester and Liberty Twp.

Taylor Jameson Hair Design hosts its first annual fundraiser Saturday with White-Out Child Abuse: The Cincinnati White Party at the Japps Annex. A donation to Childhelp, a charity for which the salon has raised $6,000 over the years, gets you in the door for an evening of cocktails, a silent auction, fashion show and dancing. All white attire is encouraged! Tickets are $10 in advance online, $15 at the door.

Earlier this month, Mason welcomed the oldest tennis tournament in the world. This weekend, the city hosts the longest running beach volleyball tour in the world, the AVP Pro Beach Volleyball Tour. Saturday through Monday, top American players will compete at the Lindner Family Tennis Center. Fans will be excited to see Olympians including Phil Dalhausser, Kerri Walsh Jennings, April Ross, Todd Rogers and others. Go here for tickets and more info.

Labor Day is synonymous with Riverfest for the half-million Tri-state residents and visitors that attend the holiday fest and fireworks bash every year. Kicking off and noon and running until 11 p.m. Sunday, Riverfest draws gigantic crowds to both sides of the river, so come early and prepared (no booze or other beverages, coolers, wheeled items or weapons). This year’s event will feature the first-ever Dent Schoolhouse WEBN Zombie Walk at 5:30 p.m. Come dressed in your bloodiest, undead best to be apart of what organizers hope to be the biggest zombie event in the Tri-state. Rozzi’s famous fireworks display lights up at 9:05 p.m.

For more art openings, summer festivals and other stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks, full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 6/14-6/16]]>

Father’s Day is June 16, so make sure you get out there and show Dad (or the Dad-like guy in your life) a good time this weekend. There’s lots going on the next few days: stuff to do with Pops, and plenty to check out on your own once Dad starts talking about how wrecked the government is and how tough he had it when he was a kid (sorry, Dad, but it gets old).

Newport’s Italianfest runs Friday-Sunday on the Levee. Food is obviously a highlight at this annual fest; expect plenty of pizza, pasta, cannoli and gelato from area restaurants. There will also be live music, cooking and eating contests, rides and games and a photo exhibit of Italians that settled in Newport generations ago. Admission is free; go here for hours and more info.

Cincinnati Opera’s summer season kicks off with Mozart’s comic drama, Don Giovanni. The opener’s second showing is Saturday. Read our full Opera season preview here.

Jungle Jim’s is known for being the go-to grocery store for exotic types of meats, fancy cheeses, rare candy and produce from around the world, but it also has an extensive beer selection. Friday and Saturday, Jim’s hosts an International Beer Fest featuring 350 beers from 100 breweries across the globe. Tickets are $40 for Friday, $45 for Saturday, $15 for designated drivers and can be purchased at the store’s beer and wine department while they last (online sales have ended).

The City Flea takes over Washington Park Saturday. Browse furniture, clothing, housewares, accessories and other vintage, antique, local and handmade goodies, plus food from local vendors and food trucks from 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.

Does your father love pork? Of course he does, this is America! Bring Dad to Covington for MainStrasse Village’s “Original” Goettafest Friday-Sunday. Find ample versions of the sausagey Cincinnati stable along with plenty of beer, music, shopping and other festival favorites. Go here for details.

For more stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

More to look forward to: Peep our Summer Guide, tucked into this week's issue, for all sorts of seasonal goodness to keep you busy all summer long. And be sure to get tickets to next Wednesday's Margarita Madness celebration at Newport on the Levee. Admission is $20 in advance ($25 at the Levee, if there are still tickets available) and includes ample tequila and margarita samples, summery bites from area restaurants and live music and DJs, all from 5:30-9 p.m. June 19. Get tickets and more info here.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 5/17-5/19]]>

Summer doesn’t officially begin for another month and Memorial Day, the unofficial seasonal kick-off, is next weekend. But looking at this weekend's  — the first round of church festivals, the opening of The Beach Waterpark, food fests abound — and it’s clear: Summer is upon us.

Legendary musician and artist Patti Smith is in town for the opening of her anticipated Contemporary Art Center exhibit and concert. Patti Smith: The Coral Sea, a tribute to Robert Mapplethore, officially opens Saturday but the opening celebration at the CAC is 6-11 p.m. Friday. On Saturday, Smith performs a sold-out concert at Memorial Hall. Check out our interview with Smith here.

There’s a bevy of festivals across the Tristate this weekend — most notably, the Asian Food Fest, CincItalia and Maifest. Asian Food Fest returns to The Banks 4 p.m.-midnight Saturday and 1-9 p.m. Sunday. Your favorite area Chinese, Indian, Korean and Thai restaurants and other Asian eateries will be serving up samples ranging from $2-$6. Guests can enjoy performances from local Asian-American groups and entertainers throughout the fest.

Get a taste of Italy by way of Cheviot at CincItalia (6-midnight Friday, 3 p.m.-midnight Saturday and 1-9 p.m. Sunday at Harvest Home Park). Once you’ve gotten your fill of pizza, pasta, gelato and tiramisu, check out the live music, auto show, Italian market and cooking demos.

Why not round out the weekend with a German celebration, too? The 34th Annual MainStrasse Village Maifest is also this weekend: 5-11:30 p.m. Friday, noon-11:30 p.m. Saturday and noon-9 p.m. Sunday. Maifest is the traditional German celebration of spring and the hundreds of thousands of expected visitors can expect plenty of food, wine, beer, street performances and kids activities. Think Oktoberfest, but in the spring.

Looking for something a little edgier and a lot sexier? Don’t miss Exhibitionism 3 at Weston Art Gallery (inside the Aronoff Center) Saturday. The late-night dance party features DJs, a lingerie fashion show, body painting, drinks and light bites. General admission tickets are $35 and get you in the door at 9:30 p.m.; $100 VIP tickets include early 8 p.m. admission for an Epicurious Exhibitionism pre-party dinner and drink tickets. Buy them here.

The Beach Waterpark opens Saturday under new management after being closed for the 2012 season. Expect a total makeover of the park, new attractions and familiar favorites like the lazy river and wave pool. The opening celebration runs Saturday-Sunday; daily hours begin May 25.

Nearby, at Kings Island, Barry Williams, Christopher Knight and Susan Olsen — better known as Greg, Peter and Cindy Brady — will be performing, signing autographs and taking photos with fans Sunday. Why, you ask? To celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Brady Bunch episode that was filmed at KI in 1973.

And this is just a few options — for more stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks, full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 5/10-5/12]]>

This weekend is all mothers, so grab your mom, grandma, baby-mama or other motherly-type and take her out for a good time! The next few days are packed with stuff to do, with moms or otherwise.

The 44th annual Appalachian Festival is already in full gear at Coney Island, with tons of live music, handmade artisan crafts, storytelling, food and an authentic pioneer village — for those who like to kick it super old-school. The fest runs until 9 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $1-$8. Get a full lineup of activities and performances here.

Cincinnati Rollergirls games are pretty much a guaranteed good time. Fun, fierce, badass chicks battle on the rink; $1 happy hour beers; hilarious roller derby nicknames; meet-and-greet with the girls after the game — need we go on? Roll out to the Cincinnati Gardens Saturday as the CRG face Toronto Roller Derby and The Dire Skates of Richmond, Ind., in a double-header. Saturday is Scout and Kids Night, so bring the chillun for a family-friendly event. Get tickets here and read our interview with Rollergirl Sydney “Big Ugly” Greathouse.

Whether you’re looking to welcome a furry friend to your family or you want to treat your pup to a day on the town, head downtown to the Duke Energy Convention Center for Petopolis Saturday-Sunday. This pet expo features animal adoption opportunities, pet fashion shows (hopefully straight out of Anchorman), trick competitions, demos, informational seminars, activities for the kids and tons of vendors. Plus, moms will get complimentary pet photos for Mother’s Day. Go here for more information.

Oktoberfest is months away, but local German enthusiasts can get their fill of beer, sausage and Gemütlichkeit at the Cincinnati Donauschwaben Society’s Schwabenfest Friday-Saturday. Have your fill of homemade sausages, German brews, pretzels and cream puffs, compete in the stein-holding competition and, if you’re coming from Petopolis, dogs are welcome in the biergarten.

Maybe you prefer more American-style fare. In that case, swing by Sawyer Point from 2-10 p.m. Saturday for the Cincinnati Wing Fest. This free food festival features chicken wings and side dishes ($2+) from Knocback Nat’s, Rooster’s, Montgomery Inn, Buffalo Wings and Rings and several other area restaurants.

Northside Second Saturdays is a great opportunity to buy some artwork, jewelry, baked goods, clothing or home goods for mom (or yourself — no judgment). Stop by local businesses along Hamilton, Chase and Spring Grove avenues from 6-10 p.m. Saturday for sales, extended hours, drinks and food specials. Check out a full list of participating shops, restaurants and bars here.

For more stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do picks, full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 4/12-4/14]]>

It’s no secret that Northside is the city’s premiere taco destination. The neighborhood welcomes its third taco joint Friday with the grand opening of Barrio Tequileria. This latest addition comes from the folks behind popular food truck Taco Azul and will specialize in authentic Mexican/L.A.-style street food, tequila and mezcal. Doors open Friday at 5 p.m. and they’ll be serving up tacos and drinks until 2 a.m. Check them out on Facebook.

The final installment of Macy’s Art Sampler Weekend takes place Saturday. Enjoy free art activities and performances all day in venues across Greater Cincinnati, including: tours and music at the Contemporary Arts Center, Hip-Hop, spoken word and crafts at the Taft Museum of Art, belly-dancing, toe-shoe performances and Kung-Fu at the Cincinnati Ballet and an Amazing Arts Race from ArtsWave Young Professionals. The sampler send with a Sock-Hop in Washington Park featuring Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati's Marvelous Wonderettes. Look up the full schedule by event, venue or category here.

Contemporary Dance Theater celebrates 40 years of bringing modern dance to Cincinnati with the FORTY40Gala Saturday. The evening includes music and dance performances, retrospective displays and videos, a silent auction, complementary drinks and hors d’oeuvres, all in the historic Emery Theatre. Go here to read our interview with CDT’s founder, Artistic Director and CEO, Jefferson James.

Have you been waiting for the opportunity to let you inner Maverick shine? Well, grab your aviators, zip up that jumpsuit and fly on out to SkateTown USA’s Top Gun-themed “Roller SK80s” party Saturday. Whether you’re a regular rollergirl or you haven’t skated since the actual ‘80s, there will be enough fun to go around with music, a photobooth and an all-you-can-drink bar (dangerous much?). Admission is just $10, which includes skate rental and drinks, and proceeds benefit Disabled American Veterans. The party runs 10:30 p.m.-1:30 a.m. and word is there will be a shuttle to a hotel after-party. Go here for details, directions and tips on finding some prime ‘80s garb.

The Cincinnati Museum Center wraps up its Passport to the World series with this weekend’s Asian Culture Fest. Visitors will travel across China, India, Japan, Korea, Taiwan, Vietnam and Nepal via cultural displays, hands-on workshops, music and dance performances, an authentic Asian marketplace and much more. The fest runs Saturday-Sunday. Find a full event schedule here.

For more stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do page or full calendar and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Tom and Chee to Appear on 'Shark Tank']]>

Trew Quackenbush and Corey Ward of gourmet grilled cheesery Tom + Chee announced Friday that they will be featured on ABC's Shark Tank in an episode airing at 9 p.m. May 17.

T + C is no stranger to TV – the grilled cheese mecca has already been featured on The Today Show, Amazing Eats and Man v. Food Nation — but this one’s a little different. Entrepreneurs of all kinds pitch their businesses to a panel of investors in hopes for a potential deal. But they don’t call it Shark Tank for nothing. The “sharks” — a panel of five millionaire/billionaire investor-entrepreneurs including Mark Cuban, Lori Greiner, Barbara Corcoran, Robert Herjavec, Daymond John and Kevin O'Leary — are often brutal in their critiques of people’s business plans and concepts. Participants are much more likely to walk away with a bruised ego than an actual deal. Simply appearing on the show, though, can create a lot of buzz for a business, so perhaps it's worth it to have the creator of FUBU publicly stomp on your dreams.

It will be interesting to see what kind of deal the Tom + Chee guys have in mind. Usually on the show, entrepreneurs present a product they need help mass producing, marketing and getting into retail outlets/e-commerce. Ward and Quackenbush will likely seek funds for additional restaurant locations. T + C currently has five locations in Cincinnati, Newport and Louisville, but perhaps they are looking to expand nationwide. Whatever the outcome, big ups to anyone who will voluntarily step to the sharks — and Mark Cuban’s scary face — on national television.

Here's a taste of the Tank:

This announcement comes on National Grilled Cheese Day, so you should probably celebrate with a deliciously gooey T + C sammy. Today's featured sandwich, naturally, is the Shark Bite: roasted mako shark (yes, actual shark), jalapeño aioli, parmesan garlic chips, diced tomato, gouda and pepper jack cheeses on sourdough bread — available in Cincinnati locations only.

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<![CDATA[Eight Local Eating Challenges ]]>

If you're looking for your own 15 minutes of fame but find your skill sets are generally limited to things that are superfluous  — or, in this case, possibly self-destructive — your best bet might be to take up one of these local eating challenges (these are the ones we know of — we bet there's a lot more of 'em) so you can achieve glory, superstar status and indigestion — right after you unbuckle your pants.

Everybody knows Cincinnati is obsessed with food, probably because there's a lot of it around here. Good food, that is. Whether you want to show off, naturally induce hibernation, experience a lifetime's worth of a particular dish in one sitting or just want a good story to tell, there are plenty of opportunities to make it happen with eating challenges around the city.

We’ve only added the ones we were able to confirm with the restaurant, but if you're dead-set on checking one of these out, it's probably a good idea to call ahead and make sure it's not a periodical offering. Be sure to let us know where we missed in the comments!

1) Ramundo's Pizza  (Mount Lookout)
Two people split a 26-inch pizza with extra cheese and two toppings, with 10 minutes to devour the whole thing. It's an investment — the pizza costs $35 — but you get it (and heartburn) for free if you finish.

2) Blue Ash Chili (Blue Ash) – "No Freakin' Way Challenge": One person + 2.5 lbs. spaghetti + 2.5 lbs. chili. + 2.5 lbs. cheese + 1 lb. jalapenos + 60 minutes + $40 = the most extravagant and gut-busting possible way to prove your obsession with our city's trademark dish, Cincinnati chili. If you finish, it's free and you'll get a spot on the Hall of Fame plus a T-shirt. Losers go on the Hall of Shame, but you'll still get a tee for free.

3) Raniero’s Pizza  (Cold Springs, Ky.) – Two people have 10 minutes to devour a 24-inch pizza, and each is allowed one 20 oz. cup of water. Beat the clock and get the pizza for free; beat the record and get a T-shirt, too.

4) Mecklenburg Gardens (Corryville) – The “Uber Terminator Challenge”: One person has an hour to put down a 3-foot long spicy mettwurst sausage on a hoagie bun, covered with peppers and sauerkraut. It’s $25, and free if you make it. You get a free T-shirt either way.

5) Padrino’s  (Milford)– Four pounds of spaghetti and meatballs + you + 45 minutes. If you make it, it’s free; if not, $30.

6) Izzy’s (multiple locations)
“110 Reuben Challenge”:  Of course, made famous a la Man v. Food: a super-sized potato pancake, more than 1 lb. of corned beef, a heap of sauerkraut, dressing and cheese, all inside a big loaf of poppyseed bread. You have 30 minutes to eat this monstrosity — it’s $19.99 — and if you make it, you’ll get it fo’ free plus a T-shirt and a photo on the Izzy’s wall of shame fame.

7) Guiseppe’s Pizza (Covington)  “Legend of the Drunken Fireman”: Just you and a 20-inch, 20-topping, 7-lb. pizza plus 59 minutes. If you lose, it’ll set you back $50; if you make it, you’ll get it free plus a T-shirt.

8) Bard’s Burgers  (Covington) – Two different challenges here: Go big with the Bardzilla — a burger with 10 1/3-lb. beef patties, 10 pieces of cheese, 2 lbs. of French fries and a 16 oz. milkshake (close to 7 lbs. of food). Free if you make it through in 45 minutes or less, $30 if not. Or, for the more timid, there’s the “Little Zilla” — beat the customer record to chow down one of two triple-stacked specialty burgers — the Kitchen Sink or the Widow Maker (eek) — plus an order of large fries and a milkshake, for a free meal
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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 3/15-3/17]]> Top o’ the weekend to ya! Whether you’re as Irish as the Blarney Stone or just enjoy a good excuse to day-drink, there are plenty of St. Patrick’s Day weekend activities for all ye lads and lassies.

Kick off the holiday Saturday with the 47th annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade, which starts at Eggleston Avenue and Reedy Street, travels north on Eggleston, west onto Central Parkway, south down Sycamore Street and east on Fifth Street. Nick Clooney serves as grand marshal for the parade, which steps off at noon.

Fountain Square and Washington Park will be bustling with Irish pride on Saturday as well. Enjoy plenty of drinks, grub, live music and Celtic entertainment between bar hoppin’ from 10 a.m. until 10 p.m. on the Square and 8 p.m. at the park.

Naturally, the Irish Heritage Center of Greater Cincinnati is also offering plenty of holiday festivities. From Irish dancers to an on-site pub, the center offers a more traditional but fun run of events Saturday and Sunday. Find a full schedule here.

ReelAbilities, the film festival featuring movies made by and about people with disabilities, continues this weekend. Catch film screenings Friday and a closing event Saturday at the Contemporary Arts Center. Read our feature on the festival here.

Local arts organizations have collaborated on a multifaceted performance inspired by Shakespeare’s works. Catacoustic Consort (which performs “early music” from the Renaissance to Baroque periods) and concert:nova (a chamber music ensemble that performs in unconventional spaces, blending traditional with contemporary styles) worked together with Cincinnati Shakespeare Company to present a show of music performed in or drawn from Shakespeare’s plays in A Common Thread. The show takes place at Mercantile Library Sunday and Monday. Read our full feature on A Common Thread here.

For more stuff to do this weekend, check out our To Do page or full calendar (with plenty of St. Patty’s Day bar events) and Rick Pender’s Stage Door for weekend theater offerings.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 2/22-2/24]]>

More and more restaurants and food trucks are offering late-night yums to meet the demands of the area college students, bar crowds and general night owls. Usually “fourth meal” conjures up the thought of tacos or pizza, but what about donuts? Busken has set up a pop-up donut shop at 1218 Vine St. (between A Tavola and Sloane Boutique), open 7 p.m.-midnight Thursdays and 7 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays and Saturdays through March 16. Here, guests can swing by after dinner or drinks for a free Lite-Hearted donut, Busken’s new heart-shaped glazed treat. After tasting one of these bad boys, you’ll be shocked to find they’re only 140 calories a pop. You won’t have to feel too bad about indulging in a mindnight snack, but you may be left wondering whose soul Busken had to sell to get these delicious donuts to clock in at 2.5 grams of fat.

Bockfest might not officially begin until next weekend, but events leading up to the big parade and festival are already in full effect. Friday is the annual Precipitation Retaliation Happy Hour at Milton’s Tavern. Why the retaliation? In 2008, a huge snowstorm nearly shut down Bockfest, so the next year a paper snowman was set ablaze as a sacrifice to the precipitation gods. The burning snowman tradition stuck, and it continues tonight at 8 p.m. Grab a drink and watch the sucker burn!

In the market for some unique furniture, home décor or apparel? 20th Century Cincinnati is a must this weekend. The 19th annual show brings vintage and mid-century modern trends to a one-stop shop at Sharonville Convention Center. Sixty dealers bring furnishings, paintings, textiles and much more, filling 20,000 square feet. And fashionistas: There will be lots of vintage clothing, costume jewelry, accessories and more dating from the ‘20s to the ‘80s. The showroom is open 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday; $7 admission is good for the full weekend. Find more info here.

The Northern suburbs of Cincinnati sometimes get left out of the city’s biggest celebrations, so they made one their own! The Taste of Northern Cincinnati, also in the Sharonville CC, features food from some of the top eateries in the ‘burbs. From noon-4 p.m. Sunday, attendees will enjoy grub from LaRosa’s, Red Squirrel, Velvet Smoke BBQ, Blue Goose and more. These restaurants will also be competing for awards for best appetizer, salad, entrée, dessert and a people’s choice prize. Admission is $18; $5 for kids.

The Academy Awards are Sunday and if your invitation also got lost in the mail (every damn year!), there’s a local way to celebrate. People Working Cooperatively presents its annual Oscar party at the Hilton Netherland Plaza, complete with a red carpet, cocktails, dinner, and a live screening of the show. Ticket sales benefit PWC’s Modifications for Mobility Program, which helps low-income, elderly and disabled homeowners make important alterations to their houses so they can remain safe and comfortable in their own homes. Buy tickets and find details here.

Check out our To Do list and full calendar for more events, art exhibits, theater shows and concerts.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 2/8-2/10]]>

The ArtsWave creates and supports art programs and opportunities in the city year-round, but three Saturdays each year, the organization kicks its mission into high gear with the Macy’s Arts Sampler. The free event brings visual art, theater, dance, music, crafts and more to venues across Greater Cincinnati. This Saturday’s sampler includes shows and backstage tours at Playhouse in the Park, Madcap Puppets at Cincinnati Art Museum and tons of other fun, creative opportunities for the whole family from Kings High School to Behringer-Crawford Museum in Covington, all day long. Find a full schedule of events here.

Cincy Blues Society celebrates 23 years this weekend with Winter Blues Fest. The fest takes place at The Phoenix, CityBeat’s across-the-street neighbors, Friday and Saturday with more than 25 local acts. Sonny Moorman and the Stacy Mitchhart Band headline; tickets are $20 per night; $35 for the weekend.

Not able to make it to the Big Easy this Fat Tuesday? Celebrate Mardi Gras in MainStrasse Friday and Saturday. Get your fill of beads with parades each night, plus live music and Cajun grub in the entertainment tent open 8 p.m.-1 a.m. Stop by your favorite MainStrasse bar, restaurant or business to keep the party going. Tickets are $10 per night or $15 for the weekend; find more info here.

With Valentine’s Day next week, lots of folks are buying up chocolates, flowers, special undies and other goodies for their significant others. You know who could really use some love? The hundreds of adoptable animals that have been abused, neglected or left behind by owners. This weekend, My Furry Valentine brings these lovable critters from dozens of rescues together in West Chester for Greater Cincinnati’s largest animal adoption event. Skip pet stores and breeders and find a pet that needs a home 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Sunday at flexi USA, Inc. (8494 Firebird Dr., West Chester). If you can’t make it out to the ‘burbs, check out one of more than 20 participating locations. Each adopted cat, dog, rabbit or other pet will go home with a gift bag of treats, toys, coupons and more supplies.

The Mayerson JCC’s Jewish and Israeli Film Festival kicks off Saturday with a screening of Hava Nagila, a comedic documentary that tells the story of this Jewish celebration staple song. This opening night celebration takes place 8-10 p.m. Saturday at the Cincinnati Museum Center and includes dessert, a photo booth and private admission to the museum’s Dead Sea Scrolls exhibit. The fest continues through Feb. 28 with films shown at the Museum Center, Esquire Theatre, Kenwood Theatre, Mariemont Theatre and the Mayerson JCC. Go here for ticket information and a full schedule.

Whether the word “craft” conjures up thoughts of glitter and glue or bottles and brew, Mt. Caramel Brewing Company’s Art. Craft. Beer. show has something for everyone. The brewery’s gallery will be full of works from area artists with plenty of fresh craft beer to go around, Saturday and Sunday. The event is just one of many happenings coinciding with Cincinnati Beer Week (which continues through Thursday). Get a full schedule and find participating bars and venues here.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 11/9-11/11]]> Tattoos and body art have been a part of various cultures for thousands of years. The concept came to the States in the late 19th century, when ink could be found on soldiers and people living on the fringe of society. Today, the medium’s popularity makes it more difficult to find people without any tattoos. While we’ve all witnessed unfortunate ink, the real pros exhibit amazing talent. Ink is now a celebrated art form (and, oddly, the basis of several TV shows) and tonight, fans of both visual art and tattoos have a chance to meet legendary tattoo artist and historian Lyle Tuttle. Beelistic Tattoo on Short Vine welcomes Tuttle for an art show of his iconic work. Tuttle began tattooing at age 18 in 1949 and has inked the likes of Janis Joplin, The Allman Brothers, Paul Stanley and countless others. Meet the artist, peruse his work, enjoy free drinks and plan your next tat from 5-10 p.m.

This past summer’s World Choir Games brought a whirlwind of music and visitors from across the globe to our back yard. Cincinnati’s own MUSE women’s choir was awarded a gold medal at the Games and tonight the group makes its first public appearance since that award-winning performance. “Keep Yo’ Lamps Burnin” features African-American traditional songs and spirituals to be performed at various venues Friday-Sunday. Go here for the full schedule and ticket information.

This weekend, Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra welcomes Louis Langrée for his first concert as Music Director Designate. The French conductor is also Chief Conductor of the Camerata Salzburg and the music director of the Mostly Mozart Festival in New York. The concert (11 a.m. Friday and 8 p.m. Saturday) is, fittingly, an all-French program featuring César Franck’s Symphony in D minor, Olivier Messiaen’s Les Offrandes Oubliées and Camille Saint-Saëns’s Piano Concerto No. 2. For tickets and more information, go here.

The Heights Music Festival brings more than 40 area acts to the UC area Friday and Saturday. The Frankl Project, The Guitars, Oui Si Yes and lots more local talent will fill Rohs Street Café (all ages), Baba Budan’s, Mac’s Pizza Pub and Christy’s Biergarten. Single-night tickets are $5 in advance/$8 at the door; full weekend passes are $10/$12.

If you’ve been looking for an excuse to break out your Goodwill’ed tweed suit, you’re in luck! Sounding like something straight out of Portlandia, The City of Cincinnati Bike Program is organizing an old-school Tweed Ride Saturday. Grab your wool skirts, wax your handlebar mustache and dust off your newsboy cap for a dapper ride about town. Riders should meet at O’Bryonville’s Owls Next Park at 2 p.m. for the 8-mile, slow-paced flat ride.

The Moerlein Lager House is ready to kick off the holiday season Saturday with a Beer and Breweriana Extravaganza noon-4 p.m. In what they’re calling “one part holiday beer tasting and one part Antiques Roadshow,” guests can sip seasonal brews while getting free appraisals on beer memorabilia and steins. Authors Mike Morgan and Don Tolzmann will be on hand to sign their Cincinnati brewing books and Jim Effler will sell his beer label artwork and posters. Stick around for lunch and dinner to enjoy a full Cincy-centric day.

Check out our calendar for a full list of theater shows, art exhibits, events, concerts and more to do this weekend and beyond.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 11/2-11/4]]> Kick off the weekend with some shopping you can feel good about at Ten Thousand Villages’ tenth anniversary event. The O’Bryonville retail store specializes in fair trade gifts, home décor and accessories from around the world. Ten Thousand Villages works with artisan groups from 38 countries and is a founding member of the World Fair Trade Organization. On Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m., conscientious shoppers will get to hear stories about artisan groups from Uganda, Bangladesh and Guatemala throughout the day as belly dancers and musicians perform around the space, all while receiving 10% off purchases. Find a full event schedule and learn more about Ten Thousand Villages here.

Sardonic storyteller extraordinaire David Sedaris stops by the Aronoff Saturday. The author and humorist is known for his collections of personal essays and contributions to National Public Radio, all of which feature his sarcastic, self-deprecating and always hilarious commentary on everything from working as a Macy’s Christmas elf to the mind-numbing ways people order coffee. Sedaris will also sign books at the event. Joseph-Beth Booksellers will be on hand selling a selection of his works; attendees are also welcome to bring their favorite Sedaris read from home. Tickets are still available here.

What better way to top that off than with Tony Valentine’s Girls Night Out? The Cuffs and Collars tour featuring former Chippendales dancers takes over Pulse Nightclub 7-10 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $15 in advance, $20 at the door. Wear your jammies for the club’s daylight savings pajama party and dance to music from Playboy’s DJ Sophia Lin. I know what you’re thinking, and yes, Sedaris is rumored to make an appearance. (No he’s not.)

Japp’s is reinventing Sunday Funday by hosting a comfort food cook-off each month starting with this Sunday’s grilled cheese throwdown. Local home chefs will whip up some delicious hangover grub to be tasted by the public and judged by area food bloggers, 11 a.m.-8 p.m. The grilled cheese cook-off will go down in the annex between 1-2 p.m. Keep an eye out for more future comfort food cook-offs featuring chili, tacos and omelettes.Yes, please.

If you missed your chance to get tickets to Obama’s Sunday rally, or just want to escape politics altogether (Abigael, we feel you) head out to the Kings Island Resort and Conference Center for the Cin City Reptile Show. At least none of these creepy guys will lecture you about reproductive rights or the war on coal.

Check out our calendar for more music, theater, arts and bar events happening this weekend.

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<![CDATA[Your Halloweekend To Do List: 10/26-10/28]]> Halloween is no longer a one-night event just for kids. Like many holidays, Halloween’s reach goes beyond Oct. 31 (I’m pretty sure I saw costumes descend into stores mid-August), giving us grownups a chance to dress up and act out. This (Hallo)weekend features events that celebrate all the weird, wonderful and freaky aspects of our favorite holiday.

If staged dance performances weren’t what you had in mind, think again. While not necessarily Halloween-related, Cincinnati Ballet’s ALICE (in Wonderland) will take audiences on a whimsical journey down the rabbit hole Friday-Sunday. In addition to talented dancers and music by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, the costume and set designs are truly freaky-fabulous.

For a darker dance experience, check out Exhale Dance Tribe’s one-night engagement, Dead Can Dance. The troupe has transformed Emery Theatre into a haunted house, where dancers will lead spectators from room to room, creating an interactive, spooky show Saturday night. The performance begins at 7 p.m.

After a month of bringing photography to the forefront of the Cincinnati art scene, FotoFocus will close with Saturday’s Carnevil. The event boasts a full bill of entertainment from live music and DJs to improv and burlesque to fortune-tellers. Guests are encouraged to explore the venue, Newport’s Thompson House — which is said to be haunted — and hunt for spirits from Southgate’s past. Find tickets and event details here.

What’s creepier than three identical mute men, covered in paint? Blue Man Group wraps up its local run with performances at the Aronoff Center Friday-Sunday. The show is an energetic spectacle that theater critic Rick Pender describes as “a strange and wonderful communal experience.” Go here to read our full review.

Judging by the number of Halloween bar and club events, alcohol is the “candy” of choice for many adult trick-or-treaters. So it looks like Arnold’s picked the perfect weekend for The Bourbon Ball. The bar will be stocked with more than 30 top shelf selections, offering specials on Manhattans, Old Fashioneds and other bourbon classics as well as bourbon-infused bites like Bourbon Bacon Strips and Bourbon Sauce Pork. The free event will also have swag bags and live music all night.

Final Saturday means Night Owl Market is back, bringing food trucks and vendors together at the parking lot at Main Street and Central Parkway. In addition to late night eats, NOMers can participate in a costume contest and a flash mob-style “Thriller” dance with Pones Inc. The free fun runs 10 p.m.-3 a.m. Saturday.

One thing that’s definitely scarier than any haunted house or paranormal activity hotspot is breed discrimination. Show some love to dogs that prove no breed is born “vicious” at Bark Bash: Celebrating National Pit Bull Awareness Day. From pit bulls to puggles, all are welcome to romp around Voice of America Park Saturday from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. There will be raffles, vendors, kids activities and appearances from the Ben-Gals and Cincinnati Rollergirls.

Few experiences are more picturesque than spending a fall afternoon perusing Findlay Market. This Sunday the market presents its annual Fall Food Festival, featuring a pie baking contest, cider mulling demo, live music, food tour and more. Come hungry between noon and 4 p.m. Find details here.

Check out ScaryBeat for a full rundown of costume parties, bar events, haunted houses and more happening this weekend through Oct. 31.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 9/21-9/23]]>

German weekend is upon us. Cincinnati hosts the largest Oktoberfest in North America, bringing 500,000 people downtown to enjoy beer and bratwurst, music and dancing. Oktoberfest takes over Fifth Street between Broadway and Vine from noon-midnight Friday, 11 a.m.-midnight Saturday and 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Sunday. Between filling up on Dunkel and sauerkraut, stop by the CityBeat booth to pickup the official Oktoberfest guide, register for prizes and buy tickets to next week’s MidPoint Music Festival. We’ll be accepting credit cards only because staff members can’t be trusted with cash it’s 2012, so come see your favorite staffers and get a wristband while they last!

If the food, booze, polka dancers and giant crowds don’t interest you, The Wahl Mobile Barbershop will be on hand Saturday and Sunday offering free shaves and facial hair trims to area gents. They’ll also be scouting for the Wahl Man of Cincinnati, so if you think you’ve got the best beard or mustache in town, show off your scruff! The winner will receive $500 and go on to compete for a national title. Whisker Wars much?

What contemporary pop art lover hasn’t dreamed of going back in time and hanging out at Andy Warhol’s Factory? Imagine: artists and socialites gathering to see and be seen, creative producing interesting works, music and drinks abound. Warhol may have come and gone, but on Friday night we can get a taste of what it was like as the Contemporary Arts Center hosts Machine: Andy Warhol and Photography. Coinciding with the Warhol exhibit is Green Acres: Artists Farming Fields, Greenhouses and Abandoned Lots, which looks at farming as activism and an art form. Friday’s dual opening reception is will be a feast for the senses with a DJ set by VHS or Beta and a photo booth projecting Factory-style screen tests across the museum. The party beings at 8 p.m. and is $10, free for members

Buff your bowling ball and mix up a White Russian, because Esquire Theatre hosts The Big Lebowski Quote-a-thon  Saturday. Don your bed Dude ensemble for a costume contests, test your Lebowski trivia knowledge and participate throughout the screening by quoting your favorite lines. The movie begins at 10:30 p.m.

Nerds unite! The Cincinnati Comic Expo runs through Sunday at Duke Energy Convention Center, kicking off with a Geek Prom Friday. The expo will also feature arcades, panels, cosplay and even something called sci-fi speed dating! Of course, many attend to meet stars involved in comics, television and movies – guests include Star Wars’ fight and light saber choreographer Nick Gillard, Green Power Ranger Jason David Frank and Chandler Riggs, better known as Carl "Get out of here!" Grimes from The Walking Dead. Go here for ticket pricing, a full event lineup and more information

Back-to-school ads and fall fashion spreads can often lead to budget woes. A change in seasons inspires finding fresh duds, but if you’ve got a full closet and empty bank account, you’re kinda stuck with what you’ve got. Enter Swappy Seconds, Casablanca Vintage and Chicken Lays an Egg’s clothing swap. Here’s how it works: Pick at least five items from your wardrobe that are clean and in great condition, drop ‘em off at Mayday in Northside starting at 2 p.m Sunday. The ladies of Chicken and Casablanca will sort and arrange all these clothes, shoes and accessories, then open the doors at 3:30 pm. For $3 you can return and pick through the goods while enjoying Mayday drinks and dogs. And guys: this isn’t just for the ladies! The more who participate, the more treasures for the pickin’. You’ll clean out your closet and supplement your wardrobe for (300) pennies!

Check out our To Do picks and full calendar for more arts, theater and events to check out this weekend.

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<![CDATA[Your Weekend To Do List: 8/21-9/3]]>

Labor Day weekend is upon us, and even though the weather may stay hot through October, it represents our kiss goodbye to summer. Fire up the grill, bust out the margaritas and find your prime spot to watch Sunday’s WEBN fireworks because no matter which side of the river you’re cheering from, there are tons of events to cram in this long weekend.

Swing by Washington Park sometime Friday-Sunday to check out the AVP Cincinnati Open. Pro beach volleyball players straight from the London Olympics compete daily to qualify for the 2012 AVP Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif. Tickets run $15-20.

The MidPoint Indie Summer Series wraps up Friday night with Wussy, R. Ring and The Guitars playing Fountain Square, 7-11 p.m. We’re officially four weeks away from the main event: MPMF Sept. 27-29. Do you have your wristband yet? You should get on that.

Enjoy Friday’s blue moon with a group ride organized by The Urban Basin Bicycle Club. Meet at outside Know Theater by 8:30 p.m. and enjoy a short, flat ride around Over-the-Rhine and Downtown. Deck yourself and your ride out with battery-powered lights, sparkles and other shiny materials to keep this ride fun and safe for everyone.

Final Friday means OTR’s galleries, bars, restaurants and shops will be a-buzz all night. After you’ve gotten your arts and drinks fix, be sure to check out the Night Owl Market at the parking lot at Main Street and Central Parkway. Food vendors will be serving up tasty goodness from 10 p.m.-3 a.m., in addition to shopping and more late-night fun. Read more about the new monthly market here.

Has it been a while since you made the voyage north to Harveysburg for the Ohio Renaissance Festival? The epic old-timey fair returns this weekend, and it’s way more than what you probably remembered as a kid. The 30-acre, re-created 16th century English village is chock-full of jousting, mud fights and fire-breathers, games, rides and shopping, plus more food and booze than you can shake a giant turkey leg at! The fest is open 10:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Saturday-Monday and weekends through Oct. 21. Huzzah!

While, apparently, many find the Ren Fest to be a romantic outing, maybe you're looking for a different suggestion for date night. Fountain Square hosts the Guinness Oyster Fest Saturday. What, oyster speed-eating contests don’t rev your engine? Well, the slippery mollusks are known to be an aphrodisiac. So chow down on raw and cooked oyster dishes from area restaurants and enjoy plenty of Guinness and live music from 5-10 p.m.

The lovely little town of Rabbit Hash in Burlington celebrates its 33rd annual Old Timer’s Day Saturday. The “center of the universe” promises a day of live music, yummy grub, a “barnival” for kids and endless river views. Leave the coolers at home — the General Store is stocked with all the snacks, pop and beer you’ll need (plus countless rustic knick knacks you’ll want to take home). Visit the mayor (Lucy Lou, a border collie) and walk through the picturesque community 11 a.m.-11 p.m.

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<![CDATA[Your Thursday To Do List]]> I'll admit I'm obsessed with This American Life. I listen to archived shows like most people listen to Rhapsody. I've seen every episode of Showtime's TV version. I have a bit of a crush on Ira Glass. For anyone else who's laughed and cried over a story or reached a destination only to sit in the parked car until the broadcast was over, get excited: This American Life is being broadcast live tonight! Ira and Co. will take over New York City's Skirball Center for the Performing Arts tonight for a production of TAL which will be broadcast live in hundreds of theaters across North America. The live event will feature writers David Rakoff and David Sedaris, comedian Tig Notaro, Snap Judgement's Glynn Washington and Ira himself. Taking full advantage of the live, visual format, the show will also feature music by OK Go, a short film by longtime TAL contributor and comedian Mike Birbiglia, a dance performance by Monica Bill Barnes & Company and much more to be seen. Participating cinemas include AMC Newport, Western Hills 14 and Florence 14. Go here to find a nearby theater and get your tickets to tonight's 8 p.m. show. Some theaters will present a recording of the show May 15. Get pumped by listening to 2009's live show here. (I am right now.)

Dayton's Ruckus Roboticus is currently featured on MTVu.com as one of this week's "Best Freshman Videos." The funky Hip Hop bot's "Take Me To The Disco" Video, featuring local actors, is vying for a spot in MTVu's permanent rotation. To celebrate the vid's lead in votes, the crew invites everyone to happy hour at the Moerlein Lager House. Enjoy cheap drinks and a vote-a-thon — bring your smartphones and other space devices beginning at 5:30 p.m. Voting for the video continues through Friday.

Visionaries and Voices opens its new exhibition Autocomplete: A Collaborative Coloring Book Exhibit tonight. V+V artists created black-and-white images which other area and national artists "colored in" using a variety of mediums. The project provided the opportunity for artists with disabilities to collaborate with other creatives they might typically not get the chance to work with. The result is more than 80 works from 160+ artists. Get your first look tonight at V+V's Northside gallery from 5-8 p.m.

Support the Junior League of Cincinnati while checking out a sweet showcase tonight at Scene Ultra Lounge. JLC's "I Want Candy" fashion show will feature items from Knickers XY and Fetish Boutique, hairstyles by High Five Salon and Bobbi Brown cosmetics from Saks Fifth Avenue. Ten bucks gets you in the door; the show begins at 9 p.m.

Art's Bizzarre takes over Mainstrasse's Leapin Lizard Gallery every second Thursday, for a night of music and art by local performers and crafters. Come watch live model drawing and participate in the creative process. At tonight's union-themed event, models will portray icons Rosie the Riveter and The Ironworker. Find more info here.

Check out our To Do page for art exhibits, theater shows and other events happening tonight and follow our music blog for nightly club shows and concerts.

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