Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Annual Candlelight Hike
Feb. 1, 6-8 p.m. Ski or hike along a 0.8-mile section of the Blue/Yellow trail. Campfire; hot chocolate, treats for sale by Friends of Big Foot Beach State Park. Meet near the park picnic shelter. Big Foot Beach State Park, 1550 S. Lake Shore Dr., Lake Geneva, Wis. (262) 248-2528, friendsofbfbsp.org.
A Bird’s Life
Feb. 1 & 22, 9 a.m.-noon (same program). Hike through the park to look for birds that winter here, dissect owl pellets, observe birds of prey. Bring sack lunch. Atwood Center, 2685 New Milford School Road, Rockford, (815) 874-7576, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Feb. 1, 1-4 p.m.; Feb. 15, 9 a.m.-noon (same program). Outdoors, learn to make a fire and build a shelter. Make first aid kit indoors. Bring a sack lunch. Atwood, rockford, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Feb. 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Ski school and ski patrol demos; snowboarding and downhill ski competitions, children’s games; snow activities; more. Fireworks display 8 p.m. Mountain Top at Grand Geneva Resort & Spa, 7036 Grand Geneva Way, Lake Geneva, Wis., (800) 558-3417, grandgeneva.com.
Feb. 1, 9-11:30 a.m. Join Severson Dells Biologist/Educator Greg Keilback for a hike that will be of moderate difficulty to see what creatures are making tracks in the snow. $3/members free. Severson Dells Forest Preserve, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915.
Rock Valley Cat Club Annual Show
Feb. 1-2, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Judging in four rings each day. Enter your household cat or any kitten over four months old. Forest Hills Lodge, 1601 W. Lane Road, Loves Park, Ill. (815) 877-8358.
All Things Cherry
Feb. 1-22, Saturdays 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Cherry pie, cherry applesauce, yogurt-covered cherries, frozen Door County cherries and a cherry juice concentrate. Cooking demos/tastings. Elegant Farmer, 1545 Main St., Mukwonago, Wis., (262) 363-6770, elegantfarmer.com.
Japanese Tea Ceremony
Feb. 1, 10:30 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. Participate in a yukimi chakai, a traditional Japanese Snow Viewing Tea Ceremony, in a 16th century Sukiya-style guest house, in an award-winning Japanese garden. $25, reservations required. Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 229-9390, andersongardens.org.
Feb. 7, March 7, April 11, May 16, 7-10 p.m. Scintillating tales from paranormal experts, audio clips captured in the cottage, and an hourlong tour for a chance to have your own paranormal encounter. No flash photography. $20/$25 nonmembers; $25/$30 at the door. No refunds. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, 411 Kent St., Rockford, (815) 964-2424, tinkercottage.com.
Animals of Atwood
Feb. 8, 9 a.m.-noon; Feb. 15, 1-4 p.m (same program). Look for animal tracks on a hike; visit Atwood’s turtles and snakes inside. BYO sack lunch. Atwood, Rockford, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Feb. 8, 22, 1-4 p.m. (same program). Experience the Native Americans Era with various activities; hike to Camp Grant to look at artifacts from WWI. Bring a sack lunch. Atwood, Rockford, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Cross Country Skiing
Feb. 8, March 7, 2-5:30 p.m. Skis/instructions incl., all ages/levels. Dependent on weather. Hot chocolate after. $2/$5 family. Jarrett Center, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Chocolate Sundae Sunday
Feb. 9, 2-4 p.m. Design your own sundae and visit the valentine-creation station. Music by the Dixieland Docs. Proceeds benefit museum education programs. $2.50/$1.50 members. Museum admission extra. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Feb. 9, 2-4 p.m. Skate with your loved ones or special sweetheart to music by a DJ. Prize drawings; free lessons. $5 incl. skate rental. Carlson Ice Arena, 4150 N. Perryville Road, Rockford, (815) 969-4069, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Eagle Tours at Lost Mound
Feb. 15-March 8, Sat. 9 a.m.-11 a.m. Get a close-up look at these majestic birds on an exclusive narrated two-hour tour, starting at entrance to Lost Mound. Limited space. Info: Jo Daviess Conservation Foundation, jdcf.org. Lost Mound Fish & Wildlife Refuge, 3159 Crim Dr., Hanover, Ill.
Full Moon Walk
Feb. 14, 7-9 p.m. Greg Keilback will lead an easy hike under the full moon around the property ending on the prairie. $3/friends; members free. Severson Dells, Winnebago, (815) 335-2915.
Sky Circus On Ice
Feb. 14-16, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. See gigantic kites anchored into Delavan Lake, exciting airborne performances by professional North American teams, large kites performing to music. Ice & Snow Sculpting. Lake Lawn Resort 2400 E. Geneva St., Delavan (262) 728-7950, lakelawnresort.com
Train Show: Track The Past
Feb. 15, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Train memorabilia, multi-gauge trains, operating train layouts, meet Thomas the Train, ring the train bells and hear the whistles, have some cookies and see train flicks. Geneva Lake Museum, 255 Mill St., Lake Geneva, (262) 248-6060, genevalakemuseum.org.
Primitive Jar Fixin’s
Feb. 15, 1-4 p.m. Welty Whimsies Rustic Art Series. Learn to make lemon balm tincture and decorate an old canning jar for home decor. $35. Big Hill Park Cabin, Afton & Big Hill roads, Beloit, Wis., weltycenter.org.
All-Star LEGO Show
Feb. 15-16, 10 a.m.-7 p.m. Professional LEGO exhibits; LEGO creation workshops and activities. Abbey Resort & Avani Spa, 269 Fontana Blvd., Fontana, (262) 275-9000, theabbeyresort.com.
Feb. 17, 6:30-8 p.m. Grades 3-8 with adult. Explore comets, asteroids, other galaxies. $5/$15 family. Yerkes Observatory, 373 W Geneva St., Williams Bay, (262) 245-5555, astro.uchicago.edu.
Feb. 22, 11 a.m. Dozens of professional engineers from local firms give kids and adults hands-on experiences; meet high school robotics teams; build your own edifice; demos; more. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
6th Annual Bridal Fair
Feb. 22, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Caterers, florists, bakeries, photographers, formal wear, limos, DJs, salons, travel agencies. Prizes, tastings, fashion show $5. Evergreen Golf Club, N6246 Hwy. 12, Elkhorn, (262) 723-5722, evergreengolf.com.
Feb. 22, 10:30-noon. Hike through the prairie to find animal tracks, tunnels, scat and other signs. Pack a lunch; hands-on animal demo after. $2. Jarrett Center, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Murder at the Mayor’s House
Feb. 22, 6-8:30 p.m. The widely known, incorruptible mayor is murdered on the eve of the election. No one has been allowed in or out of the family compound. Before police are called, find the killer. Tinker Swiss Cottage, Rockford, tinkercottage.com.
Evening Ski & Scope
Feb. 22 & March 14, 5-8:30 p.m. The moon will be just past full for this evening skiing trip. Afterward, enjoy hot chocolate in the Observatory and look through the telescope. Skis/instructions incl. $2/$5/family. Jarrett Center, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Mardi Gras in Galena
Feb. 28-March 1, all day. Snow and ice sculpting, parade, pub crawl, live music and, of course, beads, beads, beads. Downtown Main St. Galena, (888) 942-5362. galena.org.
2014 Sock Monkey Madness Festival
March 1-2, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Make your own charming sock monkey or accessories to take home. Join the Miss Sockford Pageant or shop for unique items. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
March 1-22, Sat.11 a.m.-3 p.m. Maple syrup products; maple syrup-making demonstrations. Elegant Farmer, Mukwonago, elegantfarmer.com.
Discovery Center’s Liquid Nitrogen Show
March 8, 3-4 p.m. Watch matter freeze and change phases with this super-cold substance. A Rockford Discovery Center traveling exhibit. Free. Jarrett Center, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
March 8-9, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. “The World After Dinosaurs” focuses on the Cenozoic era, immediately following the dinosaurs’ extinction. Dr. Scott Sampson, host of PBS’ “Dinosaur Train,” gives a breakfast presentation, workshops and lectures. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-3433, burpee.org.
SOFIA with Sarah Scoles
March 11, 6:30-8 p.m. Grades 3-8 with adult. Hear what it’s like to fly on SOFIA, the Stratospheric Observatory for Infrared Astronomy, from a passenger, Astronomy Magazine editor Sarah Scoles, see photos, demos using infrared camera. $5/$15 family. Yerkes Observatory, Williams Bay, astro.uchicago.edu.
Amsoil Snocross Series Championship
March 14-16, Sat 9:30 a.m., Sun noon. Top pro snowmobilers race in the season-ending championships. Monster Slednecks Invasion Tour freestyle showcase Friday night. Grand Geneva Resort, Lake Geneva, grandgeneva.com, isocracing.com.
March 15, shows 9 a.m., 10:30 a.m., noon., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m., 3:30 p.m. Bubble-Palooza Playground; bubble art & activities; shows by bubble celebrity Geoffrey Akins (reserve tickets early). $4/$3 members; $5/$4 door. Museum admission extra. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Spring Awakening Gathering
March 22, 1-8 p.m. Outdoor activities; barn dance; community supper; live music. The Pec Barn, Pecatonica River Forest Preserve, 7260 Judd Road, Pecatonica, Ill., (815) 335-2915, wcfpd.org.
Buttons, Beads & Bangles
March 22, 1-4 p.m. Welty Whimsies Rustic Art Series. Create retro-style jewelry using feathers, repurposed jewelry pieces, zippers, beads and buttons. $35 includes materials. Big Hill Park Cabin, Beloit, weltycenter.org.
Murder at the Speakeasy
March 22, 6-8:30 p.m. Get out your flapper dress, zoot suits and Tommy guns. Set at a speakeasy during Prohibition, where mixing bathtub gin, the mob and the police is sure to bring trouble. $20. Tinker Swiss Cottage Museum, 411 Kent St., Rockford, (815) 964-2424, tinkercottage.com.
Spring into Science
March 24-28, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Jump-start your spring break with amazing science demonstrations, a planetarium show, and fresh art and creative crafts. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermusuem.org.
March 28, 7-8 p.m. Learn about the spring constellations and other planets. Free. Weiskopf Observatory, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
March 29, 11:30 a.m.-3:30 p.m. Greeting cards that sing, fabric that stretches, thermometers that turn color all owe their remarkable properties to nanoscience technology. Scientists, hands-on projects; more. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermuseum.com.
64th Oregon Woman’s Club Antique Show
March 29-30, Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m.; Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. More than 50 dealers from the Midwest. Glass repair both days. Appraisals Sunday only. Blackhawk Center, Oregon, (815) 652-2047.
24th Annual Egg Artists’ Show & Sale
March 29-30, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Amazing artistic eggshells; egg art vendors; classes; Featured artist demos; food & snack vendors. Vote for People’s Choice. Midway Village, Rockford, midwayvillagemusuem.org.
Cheep, Cheep Easter Celebration
April 12, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. A 4-H menagerie of bunnies in costume, baby chicks and guinea pigs for petting and enjoying. Easter food specials including Cider-baked ham, fresh breads, Easter basket candies. Elegant Farmer, Mukwonago, elegantfarmer.com.
The Great War: World War I
April 12-13, 11 a.m. Visit encampments, talk to the re-enactors, learn about military equipment. Indoor displays of WWI weapons and artifacts, cavalry and medical units. See battles and skirmishes in the Village; more. Midway Village, Rockford, midwayvillagemusuem.org.
Classics and Chrome Car Show
April 11-12, 9 a.m. More than 120 classic autos and vehicles, specialty cars, and motorcycles. Raffle; awards; voters choice. Fundraiser for Keith School. Info: keithschool.com. Event: 10253 N. 2nd St. (Old Menard’s Bldg.), Machesney Park, Ill.