See migrating birds up close, as they’re removed from nets, banded and released, at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory in Shirland, Ill., weekends during fall bird banding, Sept. 7-Nov. 23. (Karla Nagy photo)

Events at a Glance: Recreation & Destinations Calendar

There’s so much to do in our region! Here are some exciting recreation events happening this season.

See migrating birds up close, as they’re removed from nets, banded and released, at Sand Bluff Bird Observatory in Shirland, Ill., weekends during fall bird banding, Sept. 7-Nov. 23. (Karla Nagy photo)


Ducks Gone Wild!
Sept. 1, 3 p.m. A rubber duck race hosted by the Freeport Noon Rotary Club to benefit local projects and charities. 1 Duck: $5; 5 Ducks: $20; 30 Ducks: $100. Info/ducks: (815) 297-8247. Event: Krape Park, 1799 S. Park Boulevard, Freeport.
Vertical Gardening
Sept. 5, 6-7:30 p.m. Master Gardener Jeff White demonstrates vertical plantings for privacy and shade or to hide unattractive features or define garden “rooms.” Klehm Arboretum, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford, Ill., (815) 965-8146,
Galena Food & Wine Festival
Sept. 6, 7-10 p.m. Samples from Galena-area restaurants and wine tasting of up to 150 varieties. Live music; raffle and silent auction benefit the Galena Art and Recreation Center. Shuttle service available. Tickets: Event: Galena Convention Center​​, 900 Galena Square Dr., Galena, Ill.
Lena Lions Fall Festival
Sept. 6-7, 6 p.m. Fri., 10:30 a.m. Sat. Carnival rides, games, food, 5K run, noon parade Saturday, pork chop BBQ, raffle drawings, live music, antique tractors, firemen water fights, more. 100 Main St., Lena, (815) 369-4946,
Galena Girlfriends Getaway
Sept. 6-8, events daily. A fun-filled weekend with amazing food, lodging specials, spa pampering, wine tastings, pub crawl, more. Various locations downtown. Info: Galena Chamber of Commerce, (815) 777-9050,
Lena Fall Festival 5K Run/Walk
Sept. 7, 7:30 a.m. registration, 8 a.m. race. Come for a day of exercise and fun during the Lena Fall Festival. Awards for the fastest and refreshments for all. Lions Park, 300 N. Washington St., Lena, Ill. (815) 369-5351.
Lake Geneva Wine Festival
Sept. 7, day-long events. Sample wines from around the world, food from local restaurants; wine lover’s marketplace. Proceeds benefit Walworth County Alliance for Children & Geneva Lakes Family YMCA. Lake Lawn Resort, 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan, Wis.,
Fat Tire Memorial Tour Of Lake Geneva
Sept. 7, registration 8:30 a.m.; race 10 a.m. A 21.5-mile bike tour through nearby towns with great views of Geneva Lake and Lake Como. Proceeds benefit nonprofit Walworth County Alliance of Children which assists local victims of abuse. Info/registration: (262) 248-6008, Race start: Champ’s Beer Garden, 747 Main St., Lake Geneva, Wis.
Dixon Fall Wine Fest
Sept. 7, 6-10 p.m. Sample wine from area vintners and appetizers from local restaurants in a lit garden. Presented by Crystal Wine Shoppe. Tickets: Crystal Cork, Trein’s Jewelry, at event. Distinctive Gardens, 2020 Lowell Park Road, Dixon, Ill., (815) 285-0014, (815) 285-3496,
Twilight in the Garden
Sept. 7, 6-10 p.m. Enjoy a five-course meal prepared by Chef Ryan Adams using locally-sourced ingredients, with wine pairings from PRP wines, while learning about the ingredients and the wines. Proceeds support Klehm’s programs and gardens. Reservations req. Klehm, Rockford,
Fall Bird Banding Begins
Sept. 7-Nov. 23, 7 a.m.-4 p.m. Sat., 1 a.m.-noon Sun. Observe experienced volunteers check nets, and band and release migrating birds. Free/donations help purchase nets. Info: weekends, (815) 629-2671; (815) 621-0607 for group reservations. Sand Bluff Bird Observatory, 5209 Haas Road, Shirland, Ill., (815) 629-2671,
Beloit Heritage Days
Sept. 8, 11 a.m.- 4 p.m. Learn about Wisconsin’s Native American heritage through stories and activities, tour indoor exhibits to find out about local flora and fauna. Free. Welty Environmental Center, 8606 County Road H, Beloit, (608) 361-1377,
Wine Tasting & Luminary Walk
Sept. 13, 7-9 p.m. A wine tasting in the beautiful Fountain Garden. with twinkling lights, hors d’oeuvres, live music. The public is invited; purchased/renewed memberships 25 percent at event. $20/$15 members. Klehm, Rockford,
Fall Birding Bonanza
Sept. 14, 9 a.m.-noon. The Sinnissippi Audubon chapter presents a day of bird and nature activities. Presentations at 9:30, 10 & 11 a.m. Guided bird walks all morning. Free brats, hot dogs, chips. Clarcor Building, Klehm Arboretum, Rockford,
Pretzel City Brewfest
Sept. 14, 1-6 p.m. A craft beer tasting. Food vendors. Fundraiser for downtown revitalization. VIP: $50; General Admission: $20. Chicago & Douglas streets, Downtown Freeport. (815) 232-9000,
Evening with the Owls
Sept. 15, 7-9 p.m. Learn all about American owls then take a hike to find them. We’ll start in the museum and then head to the woods for a hike. Dress for the weather. $2. Jarrett Center, Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535,
Fall Equinox Full Moon Hike
Sept. 20, 6:30 p.m. Meet at the first park pavilion for a twilight hike down the hill as the seasons change. Campfire, treats, stories and stargazing at the bottom of the hill. $5/$15 family max./free Welty members. Big Hill Park, Afton/Big Hill roads, Beloit. Info: (608) 361-1377,
Fiesta Mexicana
Sept. 21, 2-3:30 p.m. Celebrate the Independence of Mexico, with Ballet Folklorico Quetzalcoatl performing dances from various regions, children’s crafts and more. Free admission. Sponsored by RPL. Sullivan Center, 118 N. Main St., Rockford,
In the Outdoors
Sept. 21, 1-3 p.m. Practice or learn archery from Environmental Recreation & Education staff. Free. Under age 16 requires adult. Atwood Center, 2685 New Milford School Road, Rockford, (815) 874-7576,
NCIOS Field Trip: Early Fall Migrants
Sept. 21, 8 a.m.-noon. Russ Cline leads a birding field trip to Lowden-Miller State Forest and Castle Rock. Bring a folding chair to watch what’s migrating downriver. Meet at Parking Lot #4, Lowden-Miller State Forest, 1411 N. River Road, 8 a.m. Visitors/new birders welcome. Info:
Sept. 21, 10 a.m.; parade noon. This fun fest includes a parade, beer/wine garden, food booths, children’s games, pontoon rides, music, a duck calling contest, fireworks and more. Monroe St., Hanover, Ill., (815) 591-3512,
Sept. 21-22, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sat., 11a.m.-4 p.m. Sun. The largest WW II era re-enactment in the US with over 1,000 uniformed re-enactors; dozens of vintage tanks and other 1940s era military vehicles; elaborate and realistic battles with tanks, artillery, armored vehicles and pyrotechnic displays. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112,
Fall Color Canoeing
Sept. 22, Oct. 12, Nov. 16, 2-5 p.m. All equipment provided. Plan on seeing eagles, herons, and deer, The colors on the rocky ridges are breathtaking. $20/canoe. Heritage Farm Museum, Byron Forest Preserve,
Bubble Wonders Show
Sept. 22, 2 p.m. Bubbleologist Geoffrey Akins creates bubble caterpillars, ice cream cones, a volcano, a bubble merry-go-round, even puts an entire kid in a bubble. Culver’s Family Series. Janesville Performing Arts Center (JPAC), 408 S. Main St., Janesville, Wis., (608) 758-0297,
Frenchman’s Frolic
Sept. 26-29. A pre-1840s Rendezvous of French fur traders who were in this area, with re-enactors in period dress, encampments, black powder shooting matches, primitive bow shooting, traders. workshops. Info: (815) 978-8090. Macktown Living History Center, 2221 Freeport Road, Rockton, Ill., (815) 624-4200,
49th German Society Oktoberfest
Sept. 27-28, 5 p.m. Fri., noon Sat. Authentic food, BierGarten, live entertainment, bier barrel rolling contest, weiner dog race, more. Loves Park City Hall, 100 Heart Blvd., Loves Park,
Kids Fair
Sept. 28, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Several service vehicles on display for kids to touch; bounce houses; free popcorn and goodies; Aviators baseball game; helicopter fly-in (weather permitting). Featuring Sen. Dave Syverson, State Reps. Joe Sosnowski and John Cabello. Aviator Stadium, 4503 Interstate Blvd., Loves Park, (815) 885-2255,
Fall Harvest & Art Festival at the Vineyard
Sept. 28-29, noon-4 p.m. Live music, delicious food, pumpkin & face painting, grape stomp contest, vineyard tours, hayrides, art show. Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, 4746 N. Ford Road, Galena, (815) 777-3235,
46th Annual Tour of Historic Homes
Sept. 28-29, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Guided tour of five private historic homes, plus the 1858 Barrows mansion, home to the Galena History Museum. Free shuttle.Info/Tickets: Galena & U.S. Grant Museum, 211 S. Bench St., Galena, Ill., (815) 777-9129,


Galena Oktoberfest  
Oct. 5, noon-10 p.m. Annual German celebration featuring live music, kids games, wiener dog races, lots of food and beverages. Galena’s Eastside Riverfront, 101 Bouthillier St., Galena, (815) 331-0180,
Boone County Harvest Fest
Oct. 5, 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Folk art vendors, farmers market, unique bicycle display, build your own scarecrow, horse-drawn wagon rides, food, bonfire. Belvidere Park, 1006 Lincoln Ave., Belvidere, and along the Kishwaukee Riverfront Path. Info: (815)547-5711,
Fall Prairie Harvest Day
Oct. 5, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Help to collect seeds from native wildflowers like Round-headed Bush Clover, Pale Indian Plantain, Sideoats grama and grasses like Big Bluestem, Little Bluestem and Indian Grass. The seeds are cleaned, stored and then planted in preserves owned by NLI next spring. Free. Info: (815) 964-6666, Event: Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill.
Fossil Hunt
Oct. 5,10 a.m.-2 p.m. Find fossils, snails, clams, cephalopods, corals, maybe a trilobite or two. Fossil identification, hammers and guidance provided. BYO bucket or bag to take home your finds. Arrive/depart anytime during the program. $2. Meet at the Stone Quarry parking lot. Info: Byron Forest Preserve,
Train of Terror
Oct. 5, 12, 19, 6-9 p.m. A spooky 4 mile train ride with scary scenes on both sides of the track. Lunch stand available. $8. Silver Creek and Stephenson Railroad, 2954 S. Walnut, Freeport, (815) 235-2198, (815) 235-7329.
Scarecrow Harvest Festival
Oct. 5-6, noon-5 p.m. Make a scarecrow; straw provided; purchase accessories on site or BYO. Demos of antique threshing and bailing machines; square dance lessons; horse-drawn wagon rides; more. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112,
Stockton Civil War Days
Oct. 5-6, 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Civil War reenactment and encampment, period fashion show, medical scenarios, more. Food & beverages available for purchase. Eloise Pierce Farm, Curtiss & Schuller roads, Stockton, Ill., (815) 858-3493.
Autumn at the Arboretum
Oct. 6, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. See the fall beauty as all 155 acres are put to use for horse-drawn wagon rides, education, entertainment and activities for all. Free Admission. Klehm, Rockford,
Autumn Leaf Race
Oct. 12, 7 a.m. registration, 9 a.m. race. Chip-timed 5K run through the varied terrain at Oakdale Nature Preserve. Proceeds go towards replacing more than 500 trees lost to the Emerald Ash Bore. Info/registration: (815) 233-5616, Race: Oakdale Nature Preserve, 4433 S. Cranes Grove, Freeport.
Head of the Rock Regatta
Oct. 13, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. More than 1,700 crews from universities and clubs across the country compete in 2.75-mile, U.S. Rowing-sanctioned sculling races on the Rock River. Martin Park, 5600 Park Ridge Dr., Loves Park, Ill. Info:
Fall Harvest Festival
Oct. 13, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Admission includes music, scarecrow building, cider pressing demonstrations, guided nature walks through the oak savanna restoration and wetlands of Beckman Mill County Park, and more. Welty Environmental Center, 8606 County Road H, Beloit, (608) 361-1377,
Stephenson County Barn Tour
Oct. 13, 1-5 p.m. Take a self-guided tour of five unique Stephenson County barns and learn about their distinctive charm. Info: (815) 235-2165.
Falling Leaf Full Moon Hike
Oct. 18, 6 p.m. Visit one of the highest points in Rock County as the sun sets and the moon rises and enjoy the stars and fall folklore as we hike around the bluff. $5/$15 family max. Info: (608) 361-1377, Hike: Magnolia Bluff County Park, 4002 N. Croak Road, Evansville, Wis.
All Hallows Eve
Oct. 19, 2-8 p.m. Trick or treating and children’s activities and crafts, with Village buildings decorated and waiting for young trick-or-treaters. $5/members free. Midway Village, Rockford,
Fall Migrants at Nygren Wetlands
Oct. 20, 7 a.m.- noon. NCIOS field trip. Join Barb and Dan Williams to look for fall . Meet at the platform. Info: (779) 537-3352. Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill.
35th Annual Halloween Parade & Festival
Oct. 26, 2 p.m. festival, 6:30 p.m. parade. Balloons lit from within make a spectacular sight at dusk as they’re lined up along the Galena River. The largest Halloween parade in the tri-state area marches down Main Street Galena with floats, costumes and treats for guys and “ghouls” of all ages. Downtown Galena. Info: Galena Area Chamber of Commerce, (815) 777-9050.
Trick or Treat at the Museum
Oct. 26, 5-7 p.m. Bring your children for stories and trick-or-treating around the grounds. $1/Free ages12/under in costume. Stephenson County Historical Museum, 1440 S. Carroll Ave., Freeport, (815) 232-8419.
Halloween on the Prairie
Oct. 27, noon-4 p.m. Haunted hay rides, face painting, spooky games, straw maze, kid’s crafts, snake wrangler, more. Refreshments available. Jarrett Center, Byron Forest Preserve,
Sycamore Pumpkin Fest
Oct. 27-31, daily. Check Web site for specific events/times. Thousands of decorated pumpkins, arts & crafts shows, pie-eating contest, carnival. Giant parade Sunday. Food, snacks, souvenirs from various not-for-profit DeKalb County organizations. Downtown Sycamore,


“A Deadly Dinner at the Vineyard”
Nov. 2, 6-9 p.m. Take part in a mystery set in 1933 at “The Cellars.” $49.95; dinner catered by Fried Green Tomatos. Reservations required: 800-397-9463, Galena Cellars Vineyard & Winery, 4746 N. Ford Road, Galena, Ill.
Fever River Railroad Fall Open House
Nov. 2-3, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Operating model railroads and memorabilia, including the fully operational HO-scale model Fever River Railroad, one of the largest club-based model railroad layouts in the Midwest. Donation. 1055 W. Beach St., Freeport, (815) 239-2354,
Galena-Jo Daviess Quilt and Fiber Arts Show
Nov. 8-10, TBA. More than 100 quilts will be on display, vendors, classes, demonstrations. Saturday evening speaker Laurie Aaron Hird, author of The Farmer’s Wife Sampler Quilt. Historic Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St., Galena,
Antique & Craft Fair
Nov. 9, 9 a.m.-2 p.m. Crafts, antiques, bake sale, food sale. Trinity United Methodist Church, 2600 W. Pearl City Road, Freeport, (815) 233-0057.