FUN WITH LETTERS: It's an annual tradition in New England. The Big E is back this weekend. Take a few extra minutes and head over the border to the Eastern States Exposition for all of your fried fall favorites. Besides the gluttonous amounts of food (and we highly recommend the Maine Baked Potato), there's also plenty of animals, exhibits, rides, shopping, crafts, parades, live music and much, much more. Did we mention the Maine Baked Potato? The Big E runs through October 3rd. Tickets are $12-$15.
GUTEN ABEND: It's time to start celebrating Fall. And with Fall comes October. And with October comes Oktoberfest. Who cares if it's only September 17th? Head to downtown Hartford Friday night for the city's Oktoberfest. Allyn Street will be shut down for the final block party of the season thanks in part to the Pour House and Pig's Eye. The street will be transformed into a giant food court filled with authentic German food and plenty (and we mean plenty) of autumnal beers. There's also plenty of live music. Lederhosen optional. The party starts at 4 p.m.
IRISH EYES: Since we're looking ahead to October, why not keep the calendar flipping and go all the way to March. If Oktoberfest is one of the biggest drinking celebrations in the world, then St. Patrick's Day is the other. And if you hop in your car and drive yourself up to the Iron Horse in Northampton Saturday night, you can celebrate six months to the big day. Yup, it's the Big Bad Bollocks Halfway to St. Patrick's Celebration. The evening features plenty of live music, and, we can't be sure about this, but we hear there will be beer. Tickets are $13. The show starts at $10.
If you don't want to drive all they way up to Northampton, head over to Milford for their annual Irish Festival. For just $8, you can spend your day eating, drinking, dancing and being merry with all your Irish (and Irish-ish) friends. The festival runs from 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
OUT OF THE WEEDS: He was once a favorite on SNL (and wholly underrated on the Weekend Update desk). And now, he's one of the stars of the hit Showtime show Weeds. But once upon a time, before he gave in to stand-up fever, Kevin Nealon was a high school student at St. Joseph's in Trumbull and a marketing student at Sacred Heart in Fairfield. Sunday night, Subliminal Man himself is coming back to our fair state for a special performance. Proceeds from his show (tickets are $30) at the Edgerton Center for the Performing Arts will benefit St. Joseph's. The show starts at 7:30 p.m.
HAPPY HARVESTING: Stonington Vineyards invites you to share a weekend of food, wine and live music at their Harvest Wine & Food Festival. Saturday and Sunday, you can head to the vineyard to enjoy lunch from some great local restaurants and get your fill of the vineyard experience. That includes tours of the wine cellar and a sampling of the vineyards wares (yes, that means wine). Admission is free. The festival runs from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. both days.
FULL OF SOUND AND FURY: This one's for all the high school and college students suffering through English Lit. If you don't feel like reading the Cliffs Notes, get all the Shakespeare you can handle at the Town Hall Theater in Deep River. Starting Friday (and running through Oct. 9) night, the Phoenix Theater Co. is putting on the Complete Works of William Shakespeare (Abridged). The zany, 97-minute dramathon combines 37 of the Bard's best works (including the tragedies, comedies and histories). And even crazier than that, just three actors will play 116 different characters. Tickets for the 8pm shows are $15-$40.
TASTE OF INDIA: Celebrate all things Indian this weekend down at the Mortensen Riverfront Plaza in Hartford (random tangent: Why is it always down by the river?). The Incredible India festival features all sorts of the country's best music, food, crafts and entertainment. The Festival is Saturday, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission is free.
BOOTY SHAKIN': What would a weekend be without a little live music. There are a pair of shows at Mohegan Sun for your listening and viewing pleasure. First, get your hips shaking with Shakira. The Grammy winner takes the stage Friday night in the Arena. Tickets for the 8 p.m. show are $80 and $110. Saturday night, change things up a bit with American Idol alum Bo Bice. His free show starts at 7 p.m. in the Wolf Den.