Folk music, wildlife and a 'mini-Imax': weekend Family Picks

Folk music, wildlife and a 'mini-Imax': weekend Family Picks

It's a fall festival free-for-all this weekend in Champaign County, from folk music to apples. Animal lovers can ride a pony or see exotic rescued animals at the annual Pet Fair Extravaganza, or take their pets to the drive-in.  And budding scientists will love the dome theater experience at the Champaign Library. Check it out!

Put on your dancin' shoes! Champaign-Urbana Folk and Roots Festival, 4 p.m. to 1 a.m. Friday,  10:30 a.m. to 1 a.m. Saturday, downtown Urbana. Children 12-under free.

Celebrate traditional American music, dance and folk arts in all their diversity. The festival will combine performances, street-dances, jam sessions and music and dance workshops with national, regional and local artists in a variety of genres such as Cajun, bluegrass, blues, old-time, Mexican conjunto, salsa, and jazz. It will also include street performances, storytellers and children's art activities.

Some family highlights:

  • Harmonica for Kids! a workshop from 10 to 11 a.m. Saturday. The first 10 kids to show up get a free harmonica.
  • Storytelling by C-U Storytelling Guild from 10:15 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday at the Urbana Free Library.
  • "Musical Mayhem Parade" from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday. Bring your instruments!

Activities are centered at the Urbana Free library and the Independent Media Center. Many events are free, but some shows cost $10. Admisison is $15 for the entire weekend. Children 12 and under get free admission to all events.

For information: Visit or check here for a full schedule of kids' activities.

Philo Fall Festival: 8 a.m. to midnight Friday, 7 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 9 to 11 a.m. Sunday, downtown Philo. Free.

Festivities kick off Friday with village-wide garage sales, music Friday evening by the Feudin’ Hillbillys and the KC softball tournament. Saturday's events include a 5K run/walk, inflatables, live music, car show, antique tractor show and parade, skydiving demonstration, bike and pet parades, teen scavenger hunt and more. The event concludes Sunday with an interdenominational prayer service at the R. E. Franks Meeting Center.

For information: Call 684-2562 or 684-2476, or visit and for a full schedule.

Mmmm, apple fritters: 42nd Annual Apple ‘n Pork Festival, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, C.H. Moore Homestead, DeWitt County Museum, 219 E. Woodlawn St., Clinton. Free admission to festival grounds.

Take your pick of old-fashioned country cooking, from apple butter and apple fritters to butterfly pork sandwiches and smoked ham. Shop at the arts and crafts booths, flea market and art show. Watch demonstrations of disappearing skills, or take in the antique tractor exhibits, scarecrow contest and parade of pigs. Entertainment includes strolling musicians, the Civil War Band, Sugar Creek Cloggers and the Flatland Band. Or take a $3 tour of the Victorian mansion.

Kids will enjoy pony rides, a petting zoo, face painting and the kiddie tractor pull  at 1 p.m Saturday.

For information: Call 217-935-6066 or visit

Worldwide Day of Play: Noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Southridge Park, Myra Ridge Subdivision, Urbana. Free.

Celebrate Take a Child Outside Week, and Worldwide Day of Play sponsored by Nickleoden and the American Heart Association, with an afternoon of fun and games at Southridge Park. You turn off the TV, and the Urbana Park District  will supply the games and sports equipment.

In case of rain, call the events hotline at 367-9575 for information on cancellations.

For information: Visit

Mini-IMAX: "The Dome Theater Science Experience," 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Step inside the inflatable dome and be surrounded by a state-of-the-art, high-definition digital presentation on science. Four different shows, designed for ages 5 and up, will be presented between 10 a.m. and 5 p.m., with a showing every 30 minutes.

Tickets are free but many shows are already full. As of Friday morning tickets were still available for  "Search for Life" at 2 and 4 p.m. and "Night of the Titanic" at 11:30 a.m., 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. Call the children's desk, 403-2030, for availability.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

All about trees: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Environmental Education Center, Homer Lake Forest Preserve, 2573 S Homer Lake Rd, Homer. Free.

Enjoy a day of tree-related crafts, activities and more. Guided hikes will leave from the center at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m.  Learn how to identify trees and which leaves are OK to collect. Special permission will be granted to remove leaves from the forest preserve.

For information:  Call 896-2455 or visit Homer Lake's website

Pet Fair Extravaganza: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Prairieland Feeds, 303 S. Dunlap Ave. (U.S. 45), Savoy. Free.

Kids can learn about pet care and enjoy a free petting zoo and pony rides. They can also see exotic reptiles from the Decatur Zoo, native species from the University of Illinois Wildlife Ward, and animals rescued from injury or abuse -- including a white tiger from the Exotic Feline Rescue Center in Indiana.

Pets will be available for adoption from the Champaign County Humane Society. Proceeds go to the Crosswinds Equine Rescue.

For information: Call Prairieland Feeds at 352-2232

Movies for wildlife: "Howl at the Harvest Moon,"  8 p.m. Sunday, Harvest Moon Drive-In Theater, 1123 S. Sangamon Ave., Gibson City. Admission charge.

Bring your pet to this annual benefit for the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic. This year's featured film is “Cats and Dogs," which will begin at dusk. Prizes will be raffled off throughout the evening.

Admission is $6 per person, with all proceeds going to the wildlife clinic. The 24-hour clinic is a not-for-profit organization run by volunteers and veterinary students and treats more than 2,000 animals each year.  

For information: Call 244-1195 or visit


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for upcoming family friendly events, pulled from our News-Gazette online calendar, e3 magazine and other sources.

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

Photo: Erika Stapp, a volunteer at the University of Illinois Wildlife Medical Clinic, uses a spritz bottle to cool off Nokomis, a great horned owl, during the 2005 Pet Fair Extravaganza at Praireland Feeds in Savoy. News-Gazette file photo by Heather Coit


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