Family Picks: Eat your way through the weekend!

Family Picks: Eat your way through the weekend!

It’s a musical eating fest in this weekend, with lots of great food (i.e., ice cream), free concerts and family entertainment:

Celebrate the Taste! Taste of Champaign-Urbana, Friday through Sunday, West Side Park, Champaign.

It’s the 40th year for the Taste, which will feature food for sale from 33 local food vendors, artist booths, free music and kids’ entertainment throughout the park.

Hours are 5 to 9 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.

Among the entertainment:
— Free music by Elsinore, Delta Kings, Hurricane Gumbo, and Angie Heaton & GT.
— Inflatable games and “The Magic of Bob Bohm” at a family fun zone.
— A new Teen Area with miniature golf, a bags game, climbing wall and car simulator, skateboard demonstrations and BMX bike tricks.

Some family-friendly tips: You need tickets for all the food and bouncy houses (six for $5), so load up at the ticket tent first. It’s cash-only (as I found out too late last year). Have the kids bring swimsuits for the water inflatables and misting areas. And don’t bring the pets along; animals are banned this year.

Proceeds benefit the Champaign Park District’s Youth Scholarship Program.

For information: Visit

Strawberry Jam: 4 to 8:30 p.m. Saturday, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana. Free.

One of my favorite events of the summer: Pack a picnic dinner and celebrate the beginning of summer with live and local folk music, a sunset stroll through the prairie, a hayrack ride and samplings of strawberries and ice cream (while supplies last). Watch your kids dance to the music of Big Bluestem, Grass Roots Revival and The Prairie Dogs. Don’t forget your blanket or chair.

For information: Call 384-4062 or visit

Take a hike: Tallgrass Prairie Hike: 6 to 7 p.m. Friday, Trace Prairie, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, Illinois 47, Mahomet. Admission charge.

Enjoy an evening outdoors and experience the beauty of the Illinois Tallgrass Prairie with a hike through the Buffalo Trace restored prairie. Cost: $2 per person; children 2 and under are free. Bring your own water and bug spray.

For information: Call 896-2455 or Registration is required.

Recyclimpics! Market at the Square, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, Lincoln Square Village, Urbana. Free.

The Market has partnered with the city’s U-Cycle program to present the first-ever Recyclimpics, with fun activities to get kids moving and teach them about recycling. Look for the event on Walnut Street, which is the barricaded area just west of the Market.

Juggling act: Juggling, Magic and Comedy Show, 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

The hilarious Miss Green will have all ages laughing and joining in this interactive show.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

Toy Story 3! Movie Release Party, 11 a.m. Saturday, Borders, 802 West Town Center Boulevard, C. Free.

Celebrate the latest installment of the “Toy Story” franchise, which opens June 18, with stories, games, giveaways and more. For children ages 4 to 9.

For information: Call the store at 351-9011.

Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Thursday afternoon for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources. I’ll also do a quick radio update of our “Family Picks” at 4:50 p.m. every Thursday on WDWS-AM 1400.

Do you have an item you'd like to submit? Email me at, or use the N-G online calendar. Look for it on the upper right-hand side of the News-Gazette home page,

Photo: Sofie Skottene, right, and her sister Elin Skottene create their own pattern with a grand-sized Connect Four-inspired game at the 2009 Taste of Champaign-Urbana. News-Gazette file photo by Heather Coit


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