Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Edgebrook Farmers Market
Through Oct. 1, Wed. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Local farmers sell vegetables, fruits, flowers and plants as well as fresh organic goods, baked breads & sweet treats, artisan cheeses, maple syrup, honey, locally raised free-range meats, farm-fresh eggs, jams and jellies, more. Edgebrook Shops, 1639 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 226-0212, edgebrookshops.com/events.
Rockford City Market
Through Sept. 29, Fri. 3:30-8:30 p.m. An open-air public market featuring locally grown and made items including vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, flowers, herbs, baked goods, prepared food, local beer and wine. Water Street at East State Street, Downtown Rockford, (815) 988-2825, rockfordcitymarket.com.
North End City Market
Through Oct. 28, Sat. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Eat, shop and socialize at a market full of fresh, local products and food. Intersection of North Main and Auburn streets, Rockford, (815) 977-5124, rockfordcitymarket.com.
Ski Broncs Waterski Shows
Through Sept. 1, Wed. & Fri. 7 p.m. The Rockford Ski Broncs’ dazzling water ski show is in its 50th year. Powered by 2,000 horsepower, it’s like Cirque du Soleil on the Rock River. Shorewood Park, 235 Evelyn Ave., Loves Park, Ill., skibroncs.com.
Lena Farmers Market
Through Oct. 14, Sat. 8-11 a.m. Enjoy this seasonal farmers market featuring a large variety of fresh, locally grown produce and locally made baked goods. 100 W. Main St., Lena, Ill., (815) 235-4125.
Living History at the Fort
Through Oct. 31, Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Through demonstrations, hands-on activities and conversation, interpreters garbed in 1830s-style dress create a visitor experience that is historically accurate, engaging, educational and entertaining. Apple River State Historic Site, 311 E. Myrtle St., Elizabeth, Ill., (815) 858-2221, appleriverfort.org.
2017 Wildflower Walkabout Series
June 13, 21 & 27, 6 p.m. The Natural Land Institute and Severson Dells invite you to experience the Illinois landscape in a variety of preserves. Walk where flowers carpet the forest floor and birds fill the air. Check website for locations. Info: naturalland.org/docs/2017_Walkabout.pdf.
Old Settlers Days
June 15-18, Thurs. 5-10 p.m., Fri. 4-11 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. 2-9:30 p.m. Benefitting the Rockton Lions Club Charities, this festival features a midway, a rent-a-firefighter silent auction, live entertainment, a parade, food booths and a beer tent. Blood Drive Thurs.; Sat. 5K Run/Walk. Guests are invited to bring a pair of eyeglasses for the Lions Club to recycle. Location: Settlers Park, 100 E. Hawick St., Rockton, Ill. Info: Rockton Lions Club, Rockton, Ill., (815) 206-8525.
Great Galena Balloon Race
June 16-18, Fri. 5:15 a.m. Crack of Dawn Race, 5 p.m.-9 p.m.; Sat. & Sun. 5:15 race. Benefitting the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, this three-day event features more than 20 hot air balloons, tethered balloon rides, music, inflatables, food and an ale fest. Eagle Ridge Resort and Spa, 444 Eagle Ridge Dr., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-5000, eagleridge.com.
Midway Village: Spectacular Saturday
June 17, 10:30 a.m.-noon. Learn about a different country each month. This month’s focus is on Australia, its unique animals, environment and history. Make original art, based on Aboriginal methods and symbols, to take home. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Japanese Summer Festival
June 19-20, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Featuring exhibits, demonstrations and unique performances that appeal to all age groups. Learn about Japanese culture through traditional dance, tea ceremonies, taiko drum performance, falconer exhibit, origami and children’s games. Anderson Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 229-9390, andersongardens.org.
June 22, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Learn about one of the most important elements of life on earth and some of the amazing properties that make it act like no other. Explore some of the bodies of water on Severson Dells at this open-house style event. Severson Dells Nature Center, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915, seversondells.com.
Family Nature Day
June 24, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Explore the wonders of the blooming prairies and wetlands. Visiting 10 learning stations to earn a Nygren Wetland Junior Naturalist Badge for children and a special reward for adults. Registration req. Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill., (815) 964-6666, naturalland.org.
Canoe Tour to Castle Rock State Park
June 24 & July 15, 8:30 a.m.-noon. Take a two-hour guided tour along the most scenic stretches of the Rock River, from just below the dam in Oregon, Ill., to Castle Rock State Park. Age 12 and up. Registration req. Byron Forest Preserve District, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Mother/Daughter Overnight Camp
June 24-25, Sat. 3 p.m. An overnight adventure at Big Hill Park, in Beloit. Perform hands-on science experiments and explore the park while learning about outstanding women across many fields of science. Welty Environmental Center, 8606 County Road H, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Bass Pro Shop Big Cat Quest Tournament
June 24-25, 6 a.m.-3 p.m. Open to amateur and pro fishers, teams of two or three anglers will compete for $10,000 worth of cash and prizes as they weigh their top five catches from the Rock River each day. The accompanying Outdoor Show focuses on outdoor sports, conservation and recreation. Riverside Bike and Walk (RB&W) District, 301 E. 2nd St., Rock Falls, Ill., visitrockfalls.com.
Dixon Petunia Festival
June 30-July 4, events daily. The 53rd Petunia Festival is jam-packed with events, including a Midway Carnival, Pancakes in the Park, Taste Trail-Riverfront, handmade raft race, live music each day, bingo, and fireworks on the Fourth at 9:30 p.m. Various locations in Dixon, Ill., Info: petuniafestival.org.
Stephenson County Fair
July 5-9, Wed. 7 a.m.-8:30 p.m., Th. 7 a.m.-10 p.m., Fri. & Sat. 8:30 a.m.-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Enjoy a carnival midway, homemade baked goods, 4-H and FAA livestock shows, “kiddie” and adult tractor pulls, demolition derby, “bulls n barrels,” and musical entertainment, featuring Gary Allen. Stephenson County Fair, 2250 Walnut Road, Freeport, (815) 235-2918, stepensoncountyfair.org.
July 6, 8:15-9:15 p.m. Learn about these unique flying mammals that call our area home. Location: Four Lakes Forest Preserve, 10180 Trask Bridge Road, Pecatonica, Ill. Info: Severson Dells Nature Center, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915, seversondells.com
History Explorers-Amazing Race
July 8, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Children and adults work together in a no-rush race scavenger hunt through the 1890s village to complete several challenges, each with a historical twist. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Alpine Kiwanis Brat Days
July 14-15, Fri. 11 a.m.-8 p.m., Sat. to 5:50 p.m. Proceeds support local nonprofits, youth scholarships and national disaster relief. Locations: Edgebrook Shops; Schnucks, 6410 E. State St., Rockford; Schuncks, North Alpine & Harlem, Loves Park, Ill. Info: alpinekiwanis-il.com.
July 14-16, Fri. 5 p.m.-midnight, Sat. 11 a.m.-midnight, Sun. noon-4:30 p.m. A three-day community carnival, food and music fest featuring country singer Dylan Scott and including gospel, country and rock & roll. Proceeds help charitable groups raise funds for local programs. Includes a 5K run at 8 a.m. Saturday (registration required). Location: downtown Byron. Info: Byron Chamber of Commerce, 232 W. 2nd St., Byron, Ill., (815) 234-5500, byronfest.org.
Midway Village: Spectacular Saturday
July 15, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Travel to France this month to investigate the art, culture and food of this country. Try your hand at impressionist art like that of Monet. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Green County Fair
July 19-23, Wed. 5-11 p.m., Th.-Sun. noon-11 p.m. Features carnival rides, monster truck show, tractor pull, bull riding, barrel racing, more. Green County Fair, 2600 10th St., Monroe, Wis., (608) 325-9655, greencountyfair.net.
Midway Village Community Picnic
July 23, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit more than a dozen buildings in The Victorian Village, where a costumed interpreter will help you discover the secrets of each home and business. Families can enjoy lawn games and craft projects. Bring a blanket and picnic or buy lunch at the village cafe. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Rock County 4H Fair
July 25-30, events daily. 4-H participants compete as they show their accomplishments in wide variety of areas, including farm animals, clothing, drawing and painting, baking, photography and dog agility. Families will enjoy the carnival rides, children’s choirs and other musical entertainment. Rock County 4-H Fair, 1301 Craig Ave., Janesville, (608) 755-1470, rockcounty4hfair.com.
Lee County 4-H Fair
July 27-30, events daily. The Broken Hill Rodeo, garden tractor pulls, more. Lee County 4-H Fair, 1196 Franklin Road, Amboy, Ill, (815) 857-2603, leecounty4hcenter.com.
Ogle County Fair
Aug. 2-6, Wed. 6-10 p.m., Th. 5-10 p.m., Fri. 3-10 p.m., Sat. noon-10 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Highlights include tractor parade and pulls, Big Hat Rodeo, Demolition Derby. Local bands, a live alligator show and the “Rhinestone Roper” round out the entertainment. 1440 Limekiln Road., Oregon, Ill., (815) 732-6962, oglecountyfair.com.
Aug. 3-6, Th. 6-10 p.m., Fri. 5-11 p.m., Sat. noon-11 p.m., Sun. noon-7 p.m. Sunday Mass at 10 a.m. This family event features carnival rides, bocce ball, Italian food and dancing. Location: Boylan High School, 4000 St. Francis Drive, Rockford, (815) 289-7704. Info: Greater Rockford Italian American Association, griaa.com.
Street Dance & Celebrate Weekend
Aug. 4-5, daily. The city’s biggest street dance, downtown sidewalk sales, farmers market, food concessions and family-friendly activities. Downtown Beloit. Info: (608) 365-0150, downtownbeloit.com.
48th Annual Ice Cream Social
Aug. 6, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. A day of fun on the grounds of the Ellwood House Museum, featuring 20 artist booths, tours of the Ellwood Mansion, live music and ice cream. Ellwood House Museum and Park, 509 N. 1st St., DeKalb, Ill., (815) 756-4609, ellwoodhouse.org.
Boone County Fair
Aug. 8-13, events daily. Carnival, truck and tractor pulls, demolition derby, animals and family entertainment. Boone County Fairgrounds, Ill. Rt. 76, Belvidere, (815) 544-2900, boonecountyfair.com.
Speakeasy Murder Mystery
Aug. 12, 6 p.m. Dust off your flapper dress, zoot suits and Tommy guns and get ready for a Roaring ’20s murder mystery. It’s the height of prohibition, and wherever there is liquor there is always the mafia…and the police. Tinker Swiss Cottage, 411 Kent St., Rockford, (815) 964-2424, tinkercottage.com.
Winnebago County Fair
Aug. 16-20. Family fun at the 96th annual fair includes mouthwatering food, exhilarating rides, petting zoo and livestock shows, entertainment, tractor displays, bull riding, barrel racing and demo derby. 500 W. First St., Winnebago, Ill., (815) 239-1641, winnebagocountyfair.com.