Rec & Dest Events At a Glance

There’s so much to do in the Old Northwest Territory! Here’s a highlight of some Recreation & Destinations events happening this Fall.


Elegant Farmer Autumn Harvest Festival
Through Oct. 29, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. Apple- and pumpkin-picking; tractor-pulled hayride; fall colors. The Elegant Farmer, 1545 Main St., Mukwonago, Wis. (262) 363-6770,
Exhibit: “Peanuts … Naturally”
October 2011-Jan. 8, 2012, Peanuts characters help to explore nature, the solar system, trees, birds, more. Hands-on activities. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford (815) 963-6769,
Oakdale in October
Oct. 15, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Pancake breakfast, hayrides, farmers market, crafts, scarecrow making, live music. Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove, Freeport. (815) 233-5616,
Fall Colors Tour
Oct. 15-16, 9 a.m. & 1 p.m. Guided tours of Starved Rock to view the magnificent colors of the season. Meet at Visitor Center. Free. Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, Rts.178 & 71, Utica, Ill. (800) 868-7625,
East Troy Halloween Spooky Fest
Oct. 21-23, 28-30, 10 a.m. Spooky fun on the rails. East Troy Electric Railroad, 2002 Church St., East Troy, Wis. (262) 642-3263,
All Hallow’s Eve
Oct. 22, 2-8 p.m. Children’s activities; trick-or-treating in the village’s decorated buildings; guided tours of “Haunted Woods” 4:30-8 p.m. Midway Village, Rockford,
Enchanted Forest
Oct. 26-30, 5:30-9 p.m. W-Sat., 1-3 p.m. Sun. Non-scary, family-friendly event features candles, castles, costumed characters, a horse-drawn carriage, lights and unique effects. Palmer Park, 2501 Palmer Dr., Janesville, (608) 755-3030,
Galena Halloween Balloon Glow  
Oct. 28, 7-9 p.m. Balloons lit from within make a spectacular sight at dusk, lined up along the Galena River. Weather permitting. Free. Galena River Levee, 101 Bouthillier St., Galena, Ill. (815) 777-9050,
Spooky Science
Oct. 29, 6-9 p.m. Trick-or-treat; meet The Great Pumpkin; see famous “deceased” scientists perform experiments. Non-scary, family event. Discovery Center, Rockford, (815) 963-6769.


Chocolate, Champagne & Candlelight  
Nov. 5, 6:30-8:30 p.m. An elegant affair with two buffets offering chocolate plus a few non-chocolate desserts. Reservations recommended. $14. DeSoto House Hotel, 230 S. Main St., Galena, (815) 777-9129.
All-Breed Cat Show (kitty photo if room)
Nov. 5-6, daily. More than 100 cats judged in various classes in eight rings, including mixed breed House Kitty. Vendors, supplies, advice. Presented by Janesville All Breed Cat Club. Free admission/parking. Rock County Fairgrounds, Craig Center, 1301 Craig Ave., Janesville. Info: (815) 389-1330
Live Gallery Readings with Mark Dorsett  
Nov. 12, 2-4 p.m. Spirit Communicator Mark Dorsett provides messages from spirits of loved ones in a group setting. Registration req. $15 at the door. Rockford Public Library (RPL), Main Branch, 215 N. Wyman St., Rockford (815) 965-7606,
Smashing Pumpkins
Nov. 6, 1-4 p.m. Bring your dead pumpkins, create your own catapult and launch your squash. See the museum’s giant trebuchet fling pumpkins in the parking lot. Included with museum admission. Discovery Center, Rockford, (815) 963-6769.
Holiday Tree Lighting & Open House
Nov. 18-19, Fri. tree lighting 5-7 p.m.; Sat. open house noon-4 p.m. Kick off the holiday shopping season; picture ops with Santa’s reindeer. Edgebrook, 1639 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 226-0212,
Nouveau Wine Weekend  
Nov. 18-19. Wine-inspired luncheons at Galena eateries, winemaker dinners, wine tastings, vineyard tours. Galena Cellars Winery, 515 S. Main St., Galena, (815) 777-3330,
Bushnell-Wheeler Christmas Open House
Nov. 19-21, Fri. 5-9 p.m.; Sat.-Sun. noon-5 p.m. See this Italianate mansion, built in 1856, decked out for a Victorian holiday. Bushnell Wheeler Home, 542 Wheeler Ave., South Beloit, Ill., (815) 389-1514,
Joe Cool Science
Nov. 25-26, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Explore chemical cold packs, dry ice and liquid nitrogen; create a cloud by changing the temperature; more. Discovery Center, Rockford, (815) 963-6769.
A Civil War Holiday
Nov. 26, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Costumed interpreters, Victorian holiday traditions, sing carols, roast chestnuts, more. Lincoln-Tallman House, 440 N. Jackson St., Janesville, Wis. (608) 756-4509,
Community Christmas Tree Lighting
Nov. 27, 4 p.m. Watch the annual lighting in the new conservatory and get your picture taken with Santa. Then drive through the Festival of Lights and see Santa and his reindeer, across the street in Sinnissippi Park. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford,
Festival of Lights
Nov. 27, 2011-Jan. 1, 2012, 5-10 p.m. Th-Sun. Daily from Dec. 15. Rockford’s annual holiday light display for drive-through viewing. Donations accepted. Sinnissippi Park, 1401 N. 2nd St., Rockford,


Mistletoe Ball
Dec. 3, 8 p.m. Victorian holiday feast plus an orchestra that sets gowns atwirl. Period dress and holiday attire both appropriate. $59. Turner Hall, 105 S. Bench St., Galena, (815) 777-9129.
Christmas Express
Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Ride with Santa and friends in heated East Troy Railroad trolleys. Story reading, special guests. East Troy Electric Railroad, East Troy, Wis. (262) 642-3263,
Annual 1830s Christmas Breakfast
Dec. 4, 8-11:30 a.m. Period foods, ham & eggs. Musical entertainment, vintage photography. Macktown Golf Club House, Macktown Forest Preserve, 2221 Freeport Rd., Rockton, Ill. (815) 624-4200,
Victorian Tea
Dec. 11, 2 p.m. A traditional holiday tea, with assorted tea sandwiches, scones, clotted cream, lemon curd, dainty cakes, entertainment and endless pots of tea. Reservations req. Midway Village Museum, Rockford,
Holiday Light Show
Dec. 16-23, 26-31, 5-8:30 p.m. Holiday displays of over 200,000 lights throughout the garden. Inside are refreshments, model train set-ups, quilt displays, holiday scenes, live entertainment. Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, Wis. (608) 752-3885,
NCIOS Rockford Christmas Bird Count
Dec. 17. Annual census to track populations and problems of birds. $5 fee for Audubon Society data management. Teams/area assignments TBA. To participate call Dan Williams, (815) 979-8335.
NCIOS Rock Cut Christmas Bird Count
December 28. To participate call Eddie Callaway, (815) 323-0011.
NCIOS Kishwaukee Christmas Bird Count
December 31. To participate call Barbara Williams, (779) 537-3352. ❚

*You can find even more calendar events in the Recreation & Destinations Calendar to the right.