Events @ a Glance: Recreation & Destinations Calendar

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

Food trucks are scheduled to return to Rockford’s Nicholas Conservatory this summer. Local favorites set up Tuesdays from 5-9 p.m.

Editor’s Note: In light of cancelations caused by COVID-19, check with venues before assuming an event will take place.


Food Truck Tuesday
Tentatively through Sept. 7, Tue. 5-9 p.m. Enjoy tasty eats from food trucks; see the website for the week’s offerings, such as Disco Chicken, Wok-n-Roll, Savor BBQ and Veebo’s Pizza. Some seating is available but picnicking is encouraged; cash bar by Prairie Street Brewing Co. The conservatory will be open until 8:30 p.m. Nicholas Conservatory & Gardens, 1354 N. 2nd St., Rockford, (815) 987-8858,

Readings from the Rookery
Through July 24, Fri. 9:30-11 a.m. Introduce your children, 5-8 years old, to great nature books during this weekly program, each with a different theme. Reg. online. Severson Dells Nature Center, 8502 Montague Road, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915,

Story & Stroll
Through Oct. 7, first Wed., 10-11 a.m. Children 2-6 years old and their caregiver enjoy a story and activity stations. Rotary Botanical Gardens, 1455 Palmer Dr., Janesville, (608) 752-3885,

Canoe Convoy
June 15-July 27, Mon. 5-8 p.m. Enjoy an evening paddling with Severson Dells staff and volunteers on the Kishwaukee River or other water, depending on conditions. Reg. online. Severson Dells Nature Center, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915,

Map Making & Trail Blazing
June 20 & Aug. 2, 1-2 p.m. Naturalists ages 7-11 learn how to make and follow a map, use a compass, and find and follow trails. Learn how people marked trails in the past and how to “leave no trace,” then explore the new Rock River Birding and Hiking Trail and find out who lives there – using tracks and markings left behind. Reg. online. Nature at the Confluence, 306 Dickop St., South Beloit, Ill., (815) 200-6910,

Wildflower Walk
June 24, 6-7 p.m. Enjoy hills bright with pink and purple coneflowers and a beautiful sunset. See website for directions to meeting place on Flora Drive, Loves Park, Ill. Reg./Info: Severson Dells Nature Center, Winnebago, Ill., (815) 335-2915,

Historic Brewing
June 27, July 11 & 25, Aug. 8 & 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m. See brewers use equipment and techniques from the late 1800s; heirloom hops and locally grown barley are combined to replicate the taste of 19th century beer. Old World Wisconsin, W372 S9727, Hwy. 67, Eagle, Wis., (262) 594-6300,

Take a Walk on the Wild Side
June 27, 7 p.m. Gather to say goodnight to the sun, hike trails and enjoy s’mores around a campfire. Atwood Park, 2685 New Milford School Road, Rockford, (815) 966-8747,

Amazing Raptors
June 28 & July 19, 1-2 p.m. Characterized by powerful talons and beaks, with keen vision that allows them to detect prey during flight, experience raptors who have been rehabilitated from sickness or injury by the Hoo Haven organization. Reg. online. Nature at the Confluence, South Beloit, Ill., (815) 200-6910,


Fourth at the Fort
July 4, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Travel back in time to play a game of town ball (the precursor to baseball), cool off with a water race, listen to speeches, toasts and petitions. Bring a blanket and picnic lunch. Apple River Fort State Historic Site, Elizabeth, Ill., (815) 858-2221,

Home Garden Tour
July 11, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Tour local home gardens as well as the Rotary Botanical Gardens to gain knowledge and inspiration. Learn about the history of each garden, listen to live music and meet the homeowners. Reg./Info: Rotary Botanical Gardens, Janesville, (608) 314-850,

Creatures of the Creek
July 11, 10-11 a.m. In this citizen science program, kids ages 7-11 learn about the animals, fish and tiny macro-invertebrates that live in Turtle and Kelly Creeks, and how they can be good stewards of our watershed. Take a hike to see the new trail in the Rock Rover bottomland and learn about its special ecosystem. Wear shoes and clothes that can get wet or muddy. Reg. online. Nature at the Confluence, South Beloit, Ill., (815) 200-6910,

Archeology Artifacts ID Day
July 11, 10 a.m. Talk to professional archaeologists about your own collection of points, fossils, pottery shards, bones and other items you’ve found. If you don’t have your own items, no worry. Learn about prehistoric tools, weapons and other artifacts through hands-on demonstrations. Jarrett Prairie Center, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535,

Brewery Tour
July 11 & Aug. 8, 3-4 p.m. Founded in 1856, Gray’s Brewing Co. is one of the nation’s oldest family-owned beverage companies, offering a line of beers, root beer and sodas. Gray’s Brewing Co., 2424 W. Court St., Janesville, (608) 754-5150,
Summer Kids Fest
July 12, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. Bring the family for a day of games, activities and entertainment. Klehm Arboretum, 2715 S. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-8146,

WWE Live
July 12, 5 p.m. See your favorite SmackDown WWE Superstars, including “The Fiend” Bray Wyatt, Roman Reigns, Braun Strowman, Tag Team Champions The New Day as well as women’s champion Bayley. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222,

Laura Days
July 17-19 & 24-25, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Learn the story of Wisconsin’s own Laura Ingalls and step into life as she knew it, shopping in the general store, helping with chores, meeting Morgan horses and living life in a one-room cabin. Old World Wisconsin, Eagle, Wis., (262) 594-6300,

Classic Car Show
July 18, 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Featuring over 100 classic American vehicles manufactured between 1925 and 1975; vendors, displays and a 50/50 raffle, cash prizes and live music. See website for car registration information. Klehm Arboretum, Rockford, (815) 965-8146,

Swing Dance Social
July 18, 7-10 p.m. Start with a lesson 7-7:45 p.m., then enjoy some swing, country two-step, foxtrot, line dancing or other. Resonate Church, 2707 Bond Place, Janesville, (608) 359-9409,

Chicago Art Institute Trip
July 26, 8:30 a.m.-8 p.m. Enjoy the institute’s annual block party – a day of live performances, talks, storytelling, art making and museum access. Meet at Read Park, 1200 Park Lane Dr., Freeport. Reg./Info: Freeport Park District, Freeport, (815) 235-6114,


Tallman Arts Festival
Aug. 2, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Browse work by artists and craftspeople, including ceramics, fiber, glass, jewelry, painting, photography, wood and mixed media. Enjoy live music, selections from food trucks, a beer garden, silent auction and family activity area. Rock County Historical Society, 426 N. Jackson St., Janesville, (608) 756-4509,

Tipsy History: Prohibition
Aug. 8, 1-7 p.m. Uncover the mischief of Prohibition as the village becomes a dry town in the 1920s. Visit hidden speakeasies, interact with bootleggers and gangsters, witness federal raids on distilling operations, attend a temperance meeting. Midway Village Museum, Rockford, (815) 397-9112,

Midwest Garlic Fest
Aug. 8-9, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Local vendors offer naturally grown garlic as well as garlic-related food items and dishes, all washed down with beer and wine. Live entertainment and children’s activities throughout the day. 310 West St., Elizabeth, Ill., (815) 777-9624,

Ride Like an Egyptian
Aug. 15, 6:30 a.m. Take your bicycle on your choice of 25-mile loops on this group ride. All ages welcome, but riders under 16 must ride with a participating parent or guardian; includes central rest stop and end-of-ride meal. Begin and end at the theater. Egyptian Theatre, 135 N. 2nd St., DeKalb, Ill., (815) 758-1215,

If This Land Could Talk
Sept. 13, 1 p.m. At this Time Traveler series program, learn about the Ho-Chunk people, fur traders and settlers who lived on the land at the Confluence and shaped it over the millennia. Optional walk about the property. Reg. online. Nature at the Confluence, South Beloit, Ill., (815) 200-6910,

Garden Fair
Sept. 26-27, Sat. 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. to 4 p.m. Visit more than 400 vendors selling flowers, antiques and art, enjoy live entertainment and a selection from a local food truck. Visit educational demonstrations, and the kid’s creek and splash pad in the children’s garden. Klehm Arboretum, Rockford, (815) 965-8146,

Be Part of History with Midway Village

Midway Village Museum, in Rockford, is asking local residents to share stories and photographs of experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic.

These firsthand accounts will become part of the museum’s permanent collection.

Many years from now, your stories and memories will provide a historical perspective on how Rockford responded to the challenge we’re all currently facing.

Some questions to consider: 

•How is the COVID-19 pandemic impacting your everyday life?
Are you a business owner in Rockford? Have you closed your doors or found ways to remain open?

•Have you opted to self-quarantine and shelter in place? Or, do you work in a profession where that’s not an option?

•What do you want future generations of Rockfordians to know about this pandemic? 

•For you, what is the most memorable aspect about the COVID-19 pandemic?

•What are your predictions for the future? How will Rockford look post-COVID? 

Send stories or photographs (along with your first/last name and ZIP code) to [email protected].