Let's suppose for a moment you'll have some free time while in town for the FMI show. Here is the lowdown on what to do in Chicago if you get a chance to venture away from the business activities.
SPORTS AND RECREATION
The Chicago Cubs will host the St. Louis Cardinals at Wrigley Field on Monday and Tuesday, May 6 and 7, at 7:05 p.m. The National League rivals will battle it out in what should be an enjoyable getaway for baseball fans. Tickets are priced between $10 and $30, but for more information, call 800-THE-CUBS or the box office at (773) 404-CUBS.
Not a Cubs fan? In the American League, the White Sox play the Oakland A's on Sunday, May 5, at 1:04 p.m. at Comisky Park. For ticket info, call (312) 674-1000.
For those who want to play instead of watch, Chicago boasts some great venues for physical activity as well.
The Navy Pier is an all-you-care-to-do facility offering everything from an amusement park and children's museum to a meeting center and food court, plus a whole lot more.
While there, be sure to check out the traveling Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall, which will be in town starting May 6. The exhibit is a 240-foot replica of the Washington original. Admission is free.
Take a trip to Lincoln Park for a more relaxed afternoon. It is home to 1,200 acres of trees, water and lakefront, with almost every sports facility you could hope for, as well as the country's oldest free zoo. Be sure to check out the park's other highlights, such as the lakefront path and the Lincoln Park Conservatory. For more information, call (312) 742-7726.
One of the more beautiful exhibits Chicago offers is Garfield Park Conservatory's unique "Chihuly in the Park: a Garden of Glass." Artist Dale Chihuly's glass-blown creations come to life in a botanical garden setting, and even boast three never-before-seen pieces unique to the conservatory. Admission is free. For dates and hours of admittance, call (312) 746-5100.
The Art Institute of Chicago exhibits America's most famous photographer, Ansel Adams, on the centennial of his birth. The collection, "Ansel Adams at 100," delves deep into the spirit of Adams, showing work from different periods throughout his extensive career. An audio tour is $6.
Check out other exhibits while at the museum. Also up during the FMI weekend is "The Holy Cow and Other Animals," an exhibit of folk arts and crafts, paintings and drawings that feature the gods associated with animals in the Hindu pantheon. The Art Institute is located at 111 S. Michigan Ave. For more information on exhibits, call (312) 443-3600.
For a greater sampling of American art, you can also check out the "American Classics: Selections from the Terra Foundation for the Arts" at the Terra Museum of American Art. The collection, including pieces from the Colonial era through early 20th-century Modernism, features the favorite works of art of the museum's patrons. The Terra Museum is at 664 N. Michigan Ave. Call (312) 664-3939 for more information.
The Museum Campus offers visitors a variety of non-art attractions. It is the home of the Adler Planetarium, the Field Museum and the John G. Shedd Aquarium. All three museums are located along South Lake Shore Drive. For more information, call (312) 922-7827 for the Planetarium; (312) 922-1410 for the Field Museum; and (312) 939-2426 for the Aquarium.
"Fiddler on the Roof" opens May 7 at the Ford Center for the Performing Arts. Tickets range from $30 to $60 to see and hear the story of one family's struggle through poverty, persecution and a rapidly changing universe. Call (312) 782-2004 for ticket and seating information.
The well-known Steppenwolf Theatre Co. will stage performances of "The Royal Family" featuring the first family of American stage, the Cavendishes. This larger-than-life, fast-paced comedy will be on stage May 5 at 3 p.m. and 7:30 p.m., and May 7 at 7:30 p.m. Tickets are $50.
The Neo-Futurarium Theatre will hold its first musical production, "City Girl," the story of a young country girl making her way from Florida to Chicago on May 5. In the futurist tradition, it is somewhat dark and mysterious, but promises to leave its audience humming a tune. Showtime is 8 p.m., and get there early; no ticket reservations are taken. For a bit of a departure from traditional theater formats and stagings, you might want to check out Flanagan's Wake, an interactive improv built around the premise of a stereotypical Irish wake. Audience members should expect to sit among characters including grieving kin of the deceased title character, the widow, the priest and old family friends. It's an ideal activity for those who appreciate a good-natured ribbing and a good Irish joke. The play is performed in the studio theater at The Noble Fool at 7:30 p.m. Friday; 4, 7 and 9 p.m. Saturday; and 3 p.m. Sunday. For more information, call (312) 630-2631. The Noble Fool also stages larger, scripted plays in the main theater. On May 3-5, the company debuts a new translation of the 18th-century romantic comedy, "Mirandolina."
Chicago's other signature theater company, Second City, will stage a revue. "Previews for the 88th Revue" will appear on the theater's main stage at 8 and 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 8 p.m. Sunday. Etc, Second City's secondary stage, will feature "Holy War Batman! or the Yellow Cab of Courage." For tickets, call (312) 337-3992 or visit www.secondcity.com for more information.
Chicago is famous for its blues scene. Buddy Guy's Legends, which consistently ranks at the top of the city's blues venues, is located at 754 S. Wabash Ave.; call (312) 427-0333 for more information and up-to-the-minute showtimes.
The House of Blues is at 329 N. Dearborn, but be aware that big-name acts are booked for Friday and Saturday nights. Call (312) 527-2583 or (312) 923-2000 for ticketing or schedule information.
Kingston Mines, another great blues venue, is open late but be prepared for a cover charge. This blues club features two stages that book primarily local talent. A great place to get a good feel for the Chicago scene, it is located at 2548 N. Halsted St. Call (773) 472-2031 for more information.
Chicago also boasts a number of jazz and rock venues if live music beyond the realm of blues interests you. Check out the Chicago site on www.citysearch.com for a good overview of local hot spots.
Lovers of Mexican food, drinks and carnival should visit the Cinco de Mayo Festival 2002, Thursday through Sunday at Douglas Park. Contrary to popular perception, the holiday doesn't mark Mexican Independence Day -- it marks the victory of Mexican troops over Napoleon III's French Army in 1862 when France tried to add Mexico to its list of conquered nations. The festival features live music, food vendors and carnival rides, culminating in a parade on Sunday.
If you can, take a ride out to the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio in Oak Park, approximately 20 minutes from McCormick Place. The architect's controversial home was built when most Oak Park residents were dwelling in Victorian homes. The house may be a little out of Chicago proper but it's well worth the visit if you have the time. While there you can scope out one of the 32 other area homes Wright designed and built. Tours of Wright's house cost $9 for adults, $7 for seniors and children under the age of 18. The house is open from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Friday, and 11:30 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Phone (708) 848-1976 for more information and directions.
For the shopping-inclined visitor, North Michigan Avenue -- also known as the Magnificent Mile and Chicago's answer to New York's Fifth Avenue -- offers numerous upscale boutiques and shops. There's something for everyone in this retail-packed stretch of streets, from FAO Schwarz to fine dining to the Billy Goat Tavern, the bar/lunch counter made famous by the Saturday Night Live "cheezborger, cheezborger, cheezborger" routine. Take the El's Red Line to the Chicago or Grand stop. The Magnificent Mile runs between Oak Street and Grand Avenue.