STD October 16-October 23

A dog show, pie eating contest, and Italian Heritage festival, among others

By Christine Yang

Friday | October 16

Celebrate your inner Italian this weekend at the Heart of Chicago festival in Chicago’s own Little Italy. Coinciding with Italian-American Heritage month, the three-day celebration will highlight various Italian food and wine vendors in the area. Be sure to check out Saturday’s grape stomping contest too. (24th Street and Oakley Avenue, 6 p.m., free)

Saturday | October 17

If the University of Chicago has not completely destroyed your dignity already, be sure to try out for America’s Got Talent. The judges won’t be there (David Hasselhoff is too busy punching paramedics), but the cameras will still be rolling in anticipation of particularly awful auditions. (McCormick Place, 9 a.m., free)

Watch trained dogs strut their stuff at the Gorilla Tango Theater’s “Life’s Ruff!” hosted by the Dog Saving Network. Former shelter dogs will compete in a game show, emphasizing how positive reinforcement training can turn even the mangiest mutt into a showstopper. Proceeds will benefit the Dog Saving Network. (1919 North Milwaukee Avenue, 6 p.m., $12)

Enjoy a weekend of traditional folk dancing at the monthly Contra Dance put on by the Folk Arts Community. Contra is a type of partner line dance that has its roots in all corners of the globe. The dance will begin with a lesson for beginners. (Ida Noyes, 7:30 p.m., $3)

Sunday | October 18

Reach for the pie at the Bucktown Apple Pie Contest by showing off either your pie-baking or pie-eating skills. The annual contest is a fundraiser for the Holstein Community Park and will feature over 100 pies, celebrity tasters, and wholesome bluegrass music. Entry fee for the pie contest is $15 per pie, and slices go for $2. (2200 North Oakley Avenue, 2 p.m., free)

Monday | October 19

Doc Films will be showing performance artist Laura Anderson’s Home of the Brave (1986), a live taping of Anderson’s multimedia performance in Union City, New Jersey. Currently unavailable on DVD, the film will be shown in the outdated and bizarre laserdisc format. (Max Palevsky Cinema, 7 p.m., $5)

Tuesday | October 20

As an undercover journalist researching her book Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America, Barbara Ehrenreich drudged away at different low-wage, unskilled jobs. For her latest book, Bright-sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America, Ehrenreich questions the tyranny of Americans’ positive attitude, drawing from her own experience as a breast cancer survivor. The democratic-socialist author will be speaking at the I-House as part of its Global Voices Author’s Night series. (International House, 6 p.m., free)

Wednesday | October 21

Join former military commander-turned-human rights activist General José Francisco Gallardo at a brown bag luncheon to discuss Mexico’s drug war and other human rights issues. The talk will examine the Bush administration’s Merida Initiative, which intended to improve regional security, and its relationship to human rights violations. (Social Sciences Tea Room, 12 p.m., free)

Thursday | October 22

Watch Rockefeller chapel transform into the Notre Dame cathedral with Redmoon Theater’s production of Hunchback. The critically acclaimed adaptation of Victor Hugo’s The Hunchback of Notre Dame incorporates a wide variety of theatrical performances, such as acrobatics and giant puppets. (Rockefeller Chapel, 8 p.m., $8)