Family Picks: The holidays are coming edition

Family Picks: The holidays are coming edition

Christmas decorations are starting to pop up, Santa is coming, and holiday parades are happenin' all around the area this weekend. Not quite ready for the holidays? How about a steel drum concert or a children's production of "Music Man"? Check it out!

Festival of Trees: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday, I Hotel and Conference Center, 1900 S. First St., C. Admission charge.

The Junior League of Champaign-Urbana’s 15th annual Festival of Trees kicked off Thursday, with themed trees, wreaths, gift baskets and vacation packages to be raffled or auctioned. All  proceeds are used for community grants and programs benefiting children and families in the Champaign-Urbana area.

Admission is $3-$5, but children 3 years old and younger are free. (Reigistration for Friday's Daddy-Daughter Fairyland Ball, Saturday's Gala and Sunday's Mother-Son Superhero Breakfast closed Nov. 14.)

For information: Call 356-5880 or visit

Christmas in Arthur: All day Saturday, downtown Arthur. Free.

Santa comes to town Satuday for the annual Lighted Holiday Parade at 5:30 p.m. You can also enjoy Holiday Story Time from 10 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the library,  ride in a horse-drawn Amish buggy or sleigh from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., attend holiday church bazaars all day, enjoy free barbeque sandwiches at noon,see ice-carving demonstrations at 3 and 6 p.m., and pet live reindeer from 4 to 6 p.m. Stores will host open houses all day, and there's free hot chocolate and cookies after the parade!

For information: Visit the Amish Country website

Christmas Crafts:Country Christmas Craft Show, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Gordyville USA, 2205 County Road 3000 N, Gifford. Donation requested.

Gifford State Bank's 28th annual indoor craft show will feature more than 300 booths and free parking. The $1 admission donation will benefit Country Health Nursing Home.

Pictures with Santa will be available from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday. Harvest Lunch will be served from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

For information: Visit

Steel drums! PanUSA Steel Drums show, 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Move to a mix of African music, call and response, found objects and calypso. For all ages.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

‘Music Man, Jr.’: Champaign Park District Youth Theater, 7 p.m. Friday and 1 and 7 p.m. Saturday,  Centennial High School, Aldridge Auditorium, 913 Crescent Drive, C. Admission charge.

A youth-friendly version of the familiar story about fast-talking salesman Harold Hill, who cons the townspeople of River City into forming a boys’ band. Tickets are $7, available 45 minutes prior to the start of each show.

For information: Visit

‘Honk, Jr’: Theatre for Young Audiences, 2 and 7:30 p.m. Saturday and 2 and 6 p.m. Sunday, Little Theatre on the Square, Sullivan. Admission charge.

Based on Hans Christian Andersen’s classic story "The Ugly Duckling," this witty but moving story features a baby duck named Ugly whose odd, gawky looks incite prejudice from his family and neighbors. It will be performed by the Students Theatre Arts Reach dance and drama program. Admission is $13 for adults and $7 for children under 12.

For information: Call 728-7375 or visit

Holiday Parade!: 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Main Street, Farmer City. Free.

The 36th annual Christmas Parade, one of central Illinois' largest, will feature almost 100 holiday floats, high school bands, media personalities and more. This year's threme is “Christmas in Toyland.” The route starts at the Farmer City Fairgrounds and proceeds down Main Street.

For information: Visit the parade's Facebook page

Holiday Market: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturdays, Nov. 13 through Dec. 18, inside Lincoln Square Village, downtown Urbana. Free admission.

The holiday tree will go up Saturday at the Urbana Business Association's annual Holiday Market, with local produce, arts and crafts and gifts galore from local vendors. Santa Claus will be in attendance starting Nov. 27.

For information: Call 344-3872 or visit

UFLive! Duke of Uke and His Novelty Orchestra, 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

The energetic Duke of Uke & His Novelty Orchestra employ witty lyrics, complex vocal harmonies and funky rhythms in their optimistic sound, drawing on influences from classical composers to Tin Pan Alley ragtime to rock and roll artists of the '60s and '70s.

For information: Call 367-4405 or visit

Toys, toys, toys: One Week Boutique holiday toy sale, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Mattis Avenue Free Methodist Church, 1913 S. Mattis Ave., C. Free.

The one-day sale will feature lightly used games, puzzles, movies, books and more, from infants through teens.

For information: Visit

On Dasher!: Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch. 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 1 to 7 p.m. Sunday, through Dec. 28, 2 miles west of Rantoul. Admission charge.

If you haven't checked it out yet, the reindeer ranch features our antlered friends with a $3 reindeer tour, a 10-acre corn maze ($6), hayrides ($3), a country gift shop with hot cider and, if you like this sort of thing, a paintball shooting gallery. It will be closed Thanksgiving Day.

For information: 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 on the News-Gazette home page,

Photos: At top, Myra Duranceau, center, and Darlene Booher check out the variety of decorated trees at the 2009 Festival of Trees sponsored by Junior League of Champaign-Urbana. Below, Carissa Williams of Tuscola scrambles to pick up candy thrown during the 2005 Farmer City Christmas Parade. Heather Coit/News-Gazette

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