Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Monthly on the first Friday. Restaurants, art galleries, shops and music venues in downtown Rockford stay open late. Info: (779) 537-5319.
Rockford City Market
Through Aug. 31, Fri. 3:30-8:30 p.m.; Sept. 7-28, 3:30-7:30 p.m. An open-air public market featuring locally grown and made items including vegetables, fruit, meat, cheese, flowers, herbs, baked goods and local beer and wine; live music, food vendors and kids’ activities. 100 W. Water St., Downtown Rockford, (815) 977-5124, rockfordcitymarket.com.
Janesville Farmers Market
Through Oct., Sat. 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Fresh produce, meats, eggs, honey, baked goods, plants, cut flowers, soaps and more. 100 N. Main St., Janesville, (608) 289-9292, janesvillefarmersmarket.com.
Edgebrook Farmers Market
Through Oct. 31, Wed. 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Local farmers display vegetables, fruits, flowers and plants as well as fresh-baked breads, sweet treats, cheese, maple syrup, farm-fresh eggs, jams and jellies, and more. Edgebrook Center, 1639 N. Alpine Road, Rockford, (815) 226-0212, edgebrookshops.com.
Through Oct., Sat.-Sun. 1-4 p.m. On the grounds of a 50-acre county park sit an authentically restored 1868 grist mill, a new dam, mill pond, fish ladder, foot bridge, visitor center, creamery, blacksmith and cooperage shops, picnic shelter, vintage garden and nature trail. Beckman Mill County Park, 8606 S. County Road H, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
AJG Dancing in the Gardens
Through Oct., last Wed. 7:30-10:30 p.m. Meet your friends in the Pavilion for some fusion dancing, blending different dance styles and music varieties; includes a lesson. All levels of dance experience are welcome. Non-alcoholic event. Anderson Japanese Gardens, 318 Spring Creek Road, Rockford, (815) 229-9390, andersongardens.org.
Perseid Meteor Watch
Aug. 12, 9 p.m.-midnight. Enjoy this annual meteor shower event at the Weiskopf Observatory. Bring lawn chairs and blankets; event cancelled if skies are cloudy. Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
Grant County Fair
Aug. 14-19, see website for times. Rodeo, stock car racing, midway rides, giant-screen movie for kids, demolition derby, 4-H animal judging and exhibits, tractor and truck pulls, jugglers, magicians and musical entertainment. Grant County Fairgrounds, 916 E. Elm St., Lancaster, Wis., (608) 723-2135, grantcountyfairwi.org.
Aug. 15-19, see website for times. Highlights include live music, brat and beer tent, water ski show, lighted boat parade, carnival and fireworks. Flatiron, Library and Seminary Parks, downtown Lake Geneva, venetianfest.com.
Winnebago County Fair
Aug. 15-19, noon-midnight. Wrap up your summer with a rodeo, barrel racing, tractor and truck pulls, truck races, a demolition derby and carnival, 4-H presenters and entertainment. On Wed., seniors 60 and over enter free and one free admission with two canned items to benefit the Rockford Rescue Mission. Winnebago County Fairgrounds, 500 W. 1st St., Pecatonica, Ill., winnebagocountyfair.com.
Historic Baseball Game
Aug. 18 & Sept. 8, 1:30 p.m. Experience our national pastime as it was played just after the Civil War, when no gloves were allowed. Old World Wisconsin (OWW), W372 S9727, WI Hwy. 67, Eagle, Wis., (262) 594-6300, oldworldwisconsin.org.
Intro to Family Camping
Aug. 18-19, 4 p.m.-11 a.m. Sleep outside under the stars, have campfire meals, go on hikes. Reg. online. Atwood Center, 2685 New Milford School Road, Rockford, (815) 966-8747, rockfordparkdistrict.org.
Aug. 19, Mass 10 a.m., festivities 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Enjoy ethnic food, dancing, performances, children’s games, bingo, domestic and Polish beer. St. Stanislaus Kostka Church, 201 Buckbee St., Rockford, (815) 965-3913, st-stanislaus.org.
Rockton Art & Craft Fair
Aug. 19, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Vendors sell unique items. Proceeds provide camperships and scholarships to young women studying the arts. Hononegah Woman’s Club, Settler’s Park, Blackhawk Blvd. and Hawick St., Rockton, hononegahwomansclub.weebly.com.
Two Rivers Bluegrass Jam
Aug. 23-25, Thur.-Fri. 5 p.m., Sat. 7 a.m. Bring your lawn chair and settle in for lots of bluegrass, folk and country music. Northern Illinois Coon & Fox Club, 12314 Harrison Road, Harrison, Ill., (815) 335-2592.
Cherry Valley Festival Days
Aug. 24-26, Fri. 5 p.m.-midnight, Sat. noon-midnight, Sun. 11:30 a.m.-6 p.m. Features Scottish Highland games, food, carnival rides, activities and plenty of bands. Baumann Park, 218 S. Walnut St., Cherry Valley, Ill., valleydays.com.
Midway Museum Tour
Aug. 25, 10:30-11:30 a.m. Get an in-depth look at local history with exhibits on immigration, industrialization and pop culture. An interpreter shares stories and anecdotes not available on the self-guided tour. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Firefighter’s Corn Boil
Aug. 25, 11 a.m.-11 p.m. This 10th annual event has live entertainment, corn, porkchops, hot dogs, brats and more. Activities include a Jr. Firefighter Challenge, mechanical bull, raffles, flea market, bounce houses and a volleyball tournament. South Beloit Firefighter’s Association, South Beloit Municipal Park, 400 Winnebago Ave., South Beloit, Ill., (815) 389-3097.
Midtown Ethnic Parade & Festival
Aug. 26, noon-6 p.m. This family event includes a parade with dancing dragons, ethnic dance troops, bagpipers, games and crafts, a genealogy area, wood carving, children’s activity area, a beer garden and a variety of ethnic foods. Midtown District, Rockford Public Schools Administration Building, 501 7th St., Rockford, (815) 997-5888, midtowndistrict.org.
Victorian Summer Evening Tour
Aug. 29, 7 & 8 p.m. A costumed history interpreter tells stories from the late 1800s and early 1900s. Learn about the culture and life of early Rockford-area settlers, view the village and artifacts. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Castaways on the Rock
Sept. 1, 5-10 p.m. Featured at this fundraiser for the Burpee Museum of Natural History and the Rockford Area Music Industry (RAMI) are the Gilligans and Olivia Dvorak. Food, drinks, dancing as well as a costume contest for pirates or your favorite “Gilligan’s Island” character. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 494-1365, burpee.org.
Wilhelm Tell Festival
Sept. 1-2, see website for schedule. The 80th Tell celebration offers a weekend of authentic Swiss charm, including a children’s lantern parade, alphorns, yodel showcase, savory food and a street dance. Wilhelm Tell Grounds, W5199 Hwy. W, New Glarus, Wis., wilhelmtell.org.
Wings of Wonder-Lorikeet Exhibit
Sept. 1-Nov. 11, Tue.-Fri. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sat.-Sun. 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Meet these always curious nectar-feeding birds known for their playful personalities, vibrant coloration, and ability to mimic words and sounds. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
Festival on the Rock
Sept. 7-8, events daily. Festivities include carnival rides, food vendors, bags tournament, beer tent,
live music. Saturday features a cardboard boat regatta during the day and fireworks at 8:30 p.m.
Preservation Park, 3444 S. Riverside Dr., Beloit, festivalontherock.com.
Family Flicks: “E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial”
Sept. 7, dusk. Bring a blanket or lawn chair and watch a movie with the family. Union Dairy, 126 E. Douglas St., Freeport, (815) 232-7099, theuniondairy.com.
Hot Diggity Dog Festival
Sept. 16, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Featuring agility demonstrations, police canine units, a dog costume contest and an array of pet-related vendors. Dog shelters and agencies showcase adoptable dogs; a complimentary family membership with each adoption. Klehm Arboretum and Botanic Garden, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-8146, klehm.org.
Paint the Port
Sept. 21, 4-8 p.m. A family-friendly street paint party, where downtown streets are transformed into hundreds of squares that serve as canvases for artists of all ages; provides grants to help downtown business owners spruce up their buildings. Freeport Art Museum (FAM), 121 N. Harlem Ave., Freeport, (815) 125-9755, freeportartmuseum.org.
Fall Prairie Harvest Day
Sept. 22, 9 a.m.-1 p.m. Enjoy the end of summer by collecting seeds from native wildflowers and grasses. Registration req. Nygren Wetland Preserve, 3190 W. Rockton Road, Rockton, Ill., (815) 964-6666, naturalland.org.
Sept. 22, noon-10 p.m. Annual German celebration featuring live music, wiener dog races, polka dancing and lessons, German-style food and drink, bounce house and games for the kids. Galena Lions Club, Depot Park, 91 Bouthillier St., Galena, Ill., (815) 331-0180, galenalions.org.
Glow in the Garden
Sept. 22, 6-9 p.m. The evening includes lagoon lanterns, family activities, music on the terrace, cash bar, a 200-meter kids’ fun run and a Glow in the Garden 5K run featuring black lights. Reg. online. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, Rockford, (815) 987-8858, rockfordparkdistrict.org/ncg.
World War II Days
Sept. 23-24, Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m. The largest WWII re-enactment in the Midwest brings together 1,300 re-enactors and more than 60 authentic vehicles. Tour encampments, watch skirmishes and large-scale narrated battles, listen to lectures and musical performances. On Sept. 21, get a behind-the-lines tour. Tickets online. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Oct. 3-19, Wed.-Fri. 5 p.m. Stroll through the cemetery while learning stories of mystery and mayhem about people from Rock County’s past. Cancelled in case of thunder and lightning. Reg. online. Oak Hill Cemetery, 1725 N. Washington St., Janesville, (608) 756-4509, rchs.org.
Scarecrow Harvest Festival
Oct. 6, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Make your own scarecrow; straw provided. Watch antique threshing and bailing, learn to square dance, take a horse-drawn wagon ride and play old-fashioned games. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Head of the Rock Regatta
Oct. 14, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. This river race draws some 1,700 rowers from across the country and more than 5,000 spectators to the banks of the Rock River. Watch from Martin Park to the YMCA Log Lodge, 200 Y Blvd., Rockford, rockriverymca.org.
Autumn at the Arboretum
Oct. 14, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. A day of family activities including scarecrow building, pumpkin decorating, wagon rides, magic shows, a petting zoo, storybook princesses and superheroes. Klehm Arboretum, Rockford, (815) 965-8146, klehm.org.
Oct. 20-22, Sat.-Sun. 5-7 p.m., Sun. 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Celebrate German food, beer, wine and music. Res. req. Starved Rock Lodge, Starved Rock State Park, Ill. Rts. 178 & 71, Utica, Ill., (800) 868-7625, starvedrocklodge.com.
Sycamore Pumpkin Festival
Oct. 24-28, events daily. Sample pumpkin pie, caramel apples and other fall favorites; carnivals and indoor craft shows. Parade on Sun. Sycamore Courthouse & Downtown, 133 W. State St., Sycamore, sycamorepumpkinfestival.com.