The rallies are happening on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's "I have a dream" speech.
Beck says his event is meant to honor America's troops and is not about politics. Beck's rally is taking place at the Lincoln Memorial. The other rally is a short distance away.
A busload of participants were scheduled to leave for D.C. Friday afternoon from the South Side while more than 200 people boarded buses for the nation's capital in Schaumburg.
Glenn Beck's rally has been both lauded and lampooned.
"I received over a thousand emails for inquiries for the buses. We had buses sell out in a period of 24 hours," said Carrie Miller, Schaumburg Tea Party.
Mike Madia says government spending is out of control and says Saturday's rally is a chance to send a message.
"There's other people like us that are out there trying to save our country from going down the tubes," said Madia.
But the event is drawing fire because it falls on the 47th anniversary of Dr. King's "I have a dream" speech and is being held at the same location, the Lincoln Memorial.
"Blacks don't own Martin Luther King," said Beck.
But critics say the conservative talk show host is distorting Dr. King's message.
The Reverend Al Sharpton is planning a counter rally in Washington.
"I think Glenn Beck hurts the idea of 'I have a Dream' that Dr. King instituted," said Maureen Forte, Chicago chapter, National Action Network.
Beck insists the rally is non-political and is meant to honor the nation's troops.
Dr. King's niece, Alveda King, is scheduled to speak, alongside Sarah Palin and the St. Louis Cardinals' Tony LaRussa and Albert Pujols.