Madison revels in both individual and team athletics year-round, but this midsummer weekend offers up the North American Unicycle Convention and Championships and the Tug-of-War Nationals. The calendar also includes: the Dane County Fair and the Taste of Sun Prairie; a "Float-In" movie at the Goodman Pool; productions of Utopia, Limited by the Madison Savoyards, Crime and Punishment and The Glass Menagerie by APT; a Letters from the Front reading at the Vets Museum and a book reading by Lynne Jonell; an AIDS Network benefit drag king show; the World Music & Dance Fest, Rock 'n Roar Dance; a Cha Cha 15th Anniversary Party, and MikeFest; more live music from John Eddie, Off With Their Heads, Marissa Nadler, Alex Wilson Band, and the Madison Mellophonium Jazz Orchestra; and, the opening of Madison Restaurant Week.
NOTEWORTHY: Feds gun down gangster John Dillinger outside Chicago's Biograph Theater, 1934.
BIRTHDAYS: Actor/filmmaker Albert Brooks, 1947; singer-songwriter Rufus Wainwright, 1973.
Alliant Energy Center, through July 24
The summer staple rolls on through the weekend with more judging of animals, including cats (Friday), sheep (Saturday) and horses (Sunday). There's also a hypnotist, a trapeze act, stunt bicycle riding, a tractor parade, a carnival and lots and lots of live music.
Project Lodge, 7 pm
Members of Foxy Veronica's Peach Pies and Dr. Dolphin will join slam poets Kathlene Welch and Misian Taylor to raise money for the ACT 9 Wisconsin AIDS Ride. Expect drag-king performances, burlesque shimmies and more.
UW Music Hall, 7:30 pm. Also Saturday (7:30 pm) & Sunday (3 pm), July 23 & 24
The very model of a Gilbert and Sullivan troupe, Madison Savoyards is a true community group, welcoming all ages and blending experienced performers with newcomers. This summer the Savoyards stages the English duo's 1893 operetta Utopia, Limited, which spoofs imperialism.
American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 8 pm
APT stages Marilyn Campbell and Curt Columbus' adaptation of Dostoyevsky's 1866 masterpiece about a youth who thinks through a murder and decides it could work out just fine.
Goodman Pool, 8:30 pm
Summer means movies. And summer means swimming. If only these activities could somehow be combined. Actually, they can. The city's public pool hosts its first screening, and you're free to float on a tube or something else buoyant as you watch. The fare is the animated film Despicable Me, in which Steve Carell's megamaniacal supervillain sets his sights on lassoing the moon. An Esther Williams flick was probably too much to ask for.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Channeling Steve Earle and Bruce Springsteen, Eddie blends heartland rock with the country troubadour tradition, making the stage sizzle when he performs live. With Mark Croft.
Frequency, 9 pm
The past year has been a whirlwind for this Minneapolis punk band, which signed with Epitaph Records in 2010 and quickly assembled an album, In Desolation, which received a huge rave from AbsolutePunk. With Dead to Me, Riverboat Gamblers and the Gusto.
Cardinal Bar, 9 pm
The borders between music and movement will evaporate as the local troupe West African Dance of Madison grabs the spotlight -- and an assortment of percussion instruments -- at this confab. With Al Khemia, Samba Novista, Ariel Dance Troupe and DJ Ken Horn.
NOTEWORTHY: Miss America Vanessa Williams gives up her crown amid hubbub over nude photos, 1984.
BIRTHDAYS: Oscar-winning actor Philip Seymour Hoffman, 1967; Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe, 1989.
Goodman Community Center, Monona Grove High School & Vilas Park, through July 30
Devotees of the overlooked sport of unicycling gather and compete in competitions including races, basketball games and hockey matches. On Saturday at 1 p.m., a one-wheeled parade departs from the Goodman Center.
Wisconsin Veterans Museum, 10 am, 11 am, noon & 1 pm
It's the 150th anniversary of the start of the U.S. Civil War, and the Wisconsin Veterans Museum's observations continue with dramatic readings of letters from two Wisconsin soldiers, Pvt. John Corey (10 am & noon) and 1st Lt. George Haw (11 am & 1 pm). Broom Street Theater mainstay John Sable directs.
Cannery Square Plaza, noon-7 pm
The eastern suburb -- we remember when it was a just a cute small town -- shows off its culinary best. Sample the fare from more than 15 restaurants, and as a palate cleanser, enjoy kids' activities, live music and energetic hoofing by Trinity Irish Dancers.
Tug-of-War Nationals Olin Park, noon Of course there is a United States Tug-Of-War Association, and of course it has a Facebook page. The association is hosting this weekend's competition, with battles for men and women in various weight classes, plus a coed tug. Onlookers should expect a lot of grunting and bulging throat veins.
Frequency, 7 pm
The mistress of melancholy returns to Madison with her new, self-titled release and a live acoustic set that includes the beautiful sounds of the cello. Find out more in this week's Tour Stop. With Faces on Film.
American Players Theatre, Spring Green, 8 pm In the indoor Touchstone Theatre, the Spring Green company presents a heartbreaking production of Tennessee Williams' 1944 poetic masterpiece about an overbearing mother and her two emotionally damaged adult children. Bringing your mom is optional.
Vilas Zoo, 8 pm
Visiting the zoo, did you ever wonder what it's like after dark? We always imagined a sort of animal Algonquin Roundtable, but the watchword tonight is dancing and fun at this Vilas Zoo fundraiser. The classic rock is by Fuzzy Side Up, and the emceeing is by public radio cutup Michael Feldman.
High Noon Saloon, 9 pm
Hard-edged local rockers Whisky Pig, Knuckel Drager, Daikaiju and Dick the Bruiser congregate to honor the sharp-edged shears of the local beauty shop, which will celebrate 15 years of hairstyling feats.
Harmony Bar, 9:45 pm
Milwaukee singer-guitarist Wilson turns heads with a polished sound that draws on everything from gutbucket Chicago blues to Hendrix.
NOTEWORTHY: Vice President Richard M. Nixon engages in Kitchen Debate with Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, 1959.
BIRTHDAYS: Actress/singer J. Lo, 1970; actress Anna Paquin, 1982.
Madison Restaurant Week
Local restaurants, through July 29
Foodies on a budget love this event, wherein eateries like 43 North, Graze, Harvest and Steenbock's on Orchard offer special three-course dinners for $25. There are 36 participating restaurants (see Lynne Jonell
A Room of One's Own, 2 pm
Based in Plymouth, Minn., award-winning writer Jonell has written numerous books for youthful readers. Today she reads from her latest comic tome for young adults, Emmy and the Rats in the Belfry, about a girl who has a way with words with rats.
High Noon Saloon, 5 pm
Local punks, prog-heads, and MC5 aficionados join forces to rock mohawks, knee socks, and whatever else fans choose to wear to this hard-hitting show featuring A Gnarly Swell, I Am Dragon, Unum Machina, Hey Jackson, the American Dead, the Frenetic, Pasiflora and What's the Action.
Brink Lounge, 6 pm
Starring four mellophonium players and nearly 20 other jazz musicians, this local orchestra blows flugelhorn bands out of the water with their inspired performances.