Family Picks: Jam-packed, just for Dad

Family Picks: Jam-packed, just for Dad

Wow. Almost too much ground to cover here, but suffice to say you have no excuse not to do something fun this weekend. Dad can get a free train ride, book or donut, or you can all enjoy strawberries, ice cream, lots of other food and music at two premiere Champaign-Urbana summer festivals. Happy Father's Day!

Eat up! Taste of Champaign-Urbana, 5 to 10 p.m. Friday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday, West Side Park, Champaign. Free admission; tickets for food/games.

Take your pick of dishes from some of Champaign-Urbana’s best eateries. Enjoy free music from a variety of bands, from jazz to country western. Shop for pottery, paintings, photography, jewelry and crafts. The whole family can enjoy the interactive zone, with rock-climbing, a mechanical bull, gaming truck and NASCAR simulator. Kids can play in the inflatables, and the Family Tent will feature comedy, improv, music and a magic show.

Family-friendly tips: You need tickets for all the food and bouncy houses (8 for $5), so load up at the ticket tent first (cash-only). Have the kids bring swimsuits for the water inflatables and misting areas. And don’t bring the pets along; animals are banned.

Parking/biking: Street parking is available throughout downtown Champaign and the garage at Hill and Neil streets. State and Elm Streets will be closed for the event. Bikes can be parked in a corral at the northwest corner of the park (bring a lock). Bicyclists will get a coupon for a free beverage at the Pepsi tent.

For information: Call 398-2550 or visit

Sprouts at the Market: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Market at the Square, Illinois and Vine streets, downtown Urbana. Free.

Children ages 3 to 8 can learn about fresh produce, local farms and nutrition at this series of free events throughout the summer. Saturday’s is a “Market 101”-style introduction to the farmers market, where they will get to sample some fresh food currently in season. All participants will receive a certificate of participation.

For information: Call 384-2319 or visit this blog post

Donuts with Dad: 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. Satuday at  the Tolono Public LIbrary, 111 E. Main St., Tolono. Free.

Enjoy some delicious donuts and do a craft with your dad!

For information: Call 485-5558 or visit

All dads aboard! “Father’s Day Weekend,” Saturday and Sunday, Monticello Railway Museum. 992 Iron Horse Place, Monticello. Admission charge/free for dads.

Dads ride free this weekend when accompanied by their children. Trains depart from the main museum at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3:30 p.m.; and from the Wabash Depot in downtown Monticello at 11:30 a.m., 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Rides cost $9 for adults, $8 for seniors, $6 for children ages 2-12. Children under 2 are free with an adult.

For information: Call 877-762-9011 or visit

Touch A Truck (Savoy edition): Noon to 3 p.m. Saturday, Savoy Recreation Center, 402 W. Graham Drive, Savoy. Free.

Kids of all ages can see, touch, and even sit in trucks of all kinds — fire engines, police vehicles, tractors, road works trucks, and many more.

For information: Call 359-3550 or visit

Strawberry Jam! Urbana Park District festival, 4 p.m. to dusk Saturday, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana. Free.

This event has been a favorite since the year our toddlers and their friends danced the evening away, blissfully unaware they were the only ones on the dance floor (lawn).

Enjoy fresh strawberries and ice cream outdoors while listening to local bluegrass, or take a hayrack ride through the park. Bring a blanket or lawn chair: the event is held on the grassy lawn near to the barns at Meadowbrook’s farmstead (along Race Street).  

The musical lineup: Big Bluestem, 4 to 5 p.m.; Grass Roots Revival, 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.; The Prairie Dogs, 7 to 8 p.m.

For information: Call 367-1544,

Sidell festival: 53rd annual Sidell Lions Club BBQ, 7 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, under the water tower, Sidell.

Festival features craft and food vendors, townwide garage sales, midway games, a kiddie tractor pull (at noon), a parade (3 p.m.), blood bank, quilt raffle, cake walk and an open-pit barbeque with chicken, pork and more. Music in the evening.

For information: Call 288-9541 or 497-1961

Father’s Day party: Father’s Day Celebration/Community Appreciation, noon to 6 p.m. Saturday, Rose and Taylor Barber and Beauty Shop, 124 N. First St., C.  Free.

This celebration honoring men/fathers in the community includes a barbecue, fire trucks and bouncy rides for the kids, basketball hoops, giveaways and music.

For information: Call 398-9689

Super vegetables! Attack of the Giant Tomato, 11 a.m. to noon Saturday, Lewis Auditorium, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

 Create your own “super vegetable” through imagery and imagination when Common Ground food co-op visits the library.

For information: Call 367-4057 or visit

Free books! Library Friends Book Sale, 1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, FriendShop Used Book Store, Champaign Public LIbrary, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

In honor of dads -- and uncles, sons, and grandpas -- the Library Friends invite every man who visits the FriendShop to choose one regular-priced book to take home free.  Most of the used books, movies, and music cost just 50 cents to $1.

For information: Call 403-5395 or visit

Cars 2: Kids event, 2 p.m. Saturday, Borders, 802 West Town Center Boulevard, C. Free.

Celebrate the new "Cars 2" movie, which debuts next weekend, with games, stories and more.

For information: Call 351-9011 or visit the Borders website

Derby Girls! Twin City Travelers vs. Demolition City B-Team; Twin City B Team vs. Central Illinois Derby Dolls, 6 p.m. Saturday, University of Illinois Ice Arena, 406 E Armory Ave., C. Admission charge.

Check out Champaign-Urbana’s roller derby team, which fosters athleticism and sportsmanship among women and girls while benefiting local nonprofits. Saturday’s doubleheader, billed “Pick up the PACE,” will benefit People Assuming Control of their Environment and features the Twin City Travelers’ TCDG’s “all-star” team. The first bout pits the Travelers’ B team against the Central Illinois Derby Dolls.

Doors open at 5 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults, free for kids ages 10 and under.

For information: visit

Music of Malawi: 2 p.m. Sunday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Wongani Katundu, a Malawian singer and guitarist now living in South Bend, Ind., will present this tribute to Kwela music, an upbeat street music of Southern Africa. Katundu will perform with local musicians Rick Deja and Andy Miller. The program is part of the Zomba-Urbana Sister Cities Link.

For information: Call 367-4057 or visit

Coming soon:

Movie matinee: “Toy Story 3,” 2 to 4 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, Douglass Branch Library, 504 E. Grove St., C. Free.

For information: call 402-2090

Neighborhood Nights: Free Urbana Park District Concert Series featuring Keith Harden, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, June 22, Blair Park, Urbana. Free popcorn and lemonade, games and activities. Close-up looks at Urbana city vehicles. Bring blankets and lawn chairs.  In case of rain, the concert will be the following night.

For information: Call 367-9575 or 367-1544 or visit

Open Mic! 2 to 2:45 p.m. Friday, June 23, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St. Open to performers ages 7 to 12 (registration deadline is 9 p.m. Friday, June 17), but all ages are welcome to watch as young performers sing, dance, play a musical instrument or recite a poem. Free.

For information: Call 403-2030 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. To submit an item, e-mail me at, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page,

Strawberries at the 2009 Strawberry Jam festival at Meadowbrook Park in Urbanal. Vanda Bidwell/The News-Gazette

Sisters Tiara Lussier, foreground, and Malia Lussier,  of Champaign, cool off at the inflatable games area at 2010 Taste of Champaign-Urbana at West Side Park. Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

Kyndell Clark of Rantoul-makes a painting of a strawberry at the 2009 Strawberry Jam at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Vanda Bidwell/The News-Gazette

The team stretches after a warmup at the first practice of the C-U Rollers at Skateland in Savoy on Jan. 11, 2010.


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