Ice cream, parades and fireworks: summertime Family Picks

Ice cream, parades and fireworks: summertime Family Picks

Summer is in full swing this weekend, lots of festivals, some early Fourth of July celebrations and ice cream! Not to mention National Pollinator Week. Let’s hope the weather actually feels like summer!

Clowns, horses and a parade: Piatt County Trail Blazers’ 57th annual rodeo, Friday and Saturday, rodeo grounds, Interstate 72 Exit 166, 1 mile north on Old Route 47, Monticello. Admission charge.

Kids’ events include a parade through downwon Monticello at 10 a.m. Saturday and a “Kids and Clown Lunch” at 11:30 a.m. Saturday at Rick Ridings Ford dealership, I-72 Exit 166, Monticello. Tickets are $3-$10, or free for children 3 and under.

Evening events start at 7:30 p.m., showcasing bareback, saddle bronc, tie-down roping, steer wrestling, team roping, barrel racing and bull riding. Gates open at 5 p.m. Weekend passes are $12-$25.

For information: Call 762-2663 or visit

Fun Day! Tolono Fun Day festival, 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, West Side Park, Tolono. Free.

The fun kicks off with an 11 a.m. parade featuring, among other groups, the Unity High School Jazz Band. Inflatables, a petting zoo and the dunk tank open at noon, the Unity Rockettes dance squad performs at 12:45 p.m., a kiddie tractor pull is set for 1:30 p.m., a stilt-walker performs at 1 and 4:30 p.m., and pony rides will be available from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and. And for the older set, laser tag at 5 p.m. ($5). Fireworks follow the evening entertainment.

For information: Check the event’s Facebook page

Freedom Festival: Saybrook’s annual Freedom Festival, 7 to 11 p.m. Friday, 7 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 6:30 a.m. to dusk Sunday, Saybrook Park and Saybrook Community Center. Free.

Most of the child-friendly events are on Sunday, although Saturday’s activities include citywide garage sales and a 7 a.m. fishing derby. On Sunday there’s an 11 a.m. parade, a car/truck/bike show from noon to 3 p.m., food vendors and craft booths starting at 11 a.m., a firefighters’ water ball fight at 12:30 p.m. and a pedal tractor pull at 1 p.m. Music includes the Thirty-Third Illinois Volunteer Regiment Band at 2 p.m. and the Prime Time Country at 6 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

For information: Call 309-378-8324 or visit the festival's website

‘Take Me Fishing’: 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Walnut Hill Shelter, Homer Lake Forest Preserve, 2573 S. Homer Lake Road, Homer. Free.

Fishing fun for first-timers and experienced fishermen alike, with basic instruction available. The event includes kids’ activities, prizes and more. Fishing poles will be available or you can bring your own, and bait is provided. Adult supervision is required.

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

Arts in the Park: 23rd annual festival, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Sunday, Lincoln Park, Logan Street, Danville. Free.

Art enthusiasts of all ages will enjoy a chance to view, buy or create a piece of art. Children can buy artwork on their own (priced at $5 and under) at the “Art for Kids Only” tent, where artists donate pieces to encourage art appreciation. All proceeds go toward supplies for the Children’s Circle Tent, where kids can create their own works of art.

Art will be on display from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days. Free stage performances are scheduled throughout the event, from bluegrass to Broadway to Big Band to the Danville Symphony Orchestra (8 p.m. Saturday). The annual Art on Wheels Car Show is scheduled for Saturday.

For information: Call 474-1642 or 304-0718 or visit

Pop the Top Festival: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, downtown Arcola. Free admission.

Enjoy a Cool Car Show and bag toss tournament on Oak Street, kids activities, an antique tractor show, music, food and craft vendors on Main Street. Early Fourth of July fireworks are scheduled for 9 p.m. at Moore Memorial Park.

For information: Call 268-4966 or visit

Summer music: Illinois Summer Youth Music, 10 a.m. Saturday, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U, and Smith Recital Hall, 805 S. Mathews Ave., U. Free.

Enjoy free performances by some of the state’s best young musicians. The schedule includes advanced piano at 10 a.m., Smith Recital Hall; senior orchestra at 10 a.m., Foellinger Great Hall; musical theater at 11 a.m., Colwell Playouse; senior symphonic band at 11:15 a.m., and senior concert band at 12:30 p.m., both in Foellinger Great Hall.

For information: Call 333-6280 or visit the Krannert website

Dino Detective Days: 2 to 5 p.m. Saturday, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346??? N. Neil St., C. Free with museum admission.

In four events with Jurassic proportions, the museum is asking curious citizens to join in a scientific investigation. Dino Detective Days will run throughout the summer (also July 16, Aug. 20, Sept. 17) each with travel and exploration to a different period in time. Time travelers are encouraged to observe, imagine, ask questions, develop hypotheses, and have fun bringing the past to life.

For information: Call 352-5895 or visit

Magic with J.R. Thomas: 2 to 2:45 p.m. Saturday, Champaign Public Library, 200 W. Green St., C. Free.

Enjoy an afternoon of magical antics with Champaign’s own JR Thomas, fun for the whole family.

For information: Call 403-2030 or visit

Family day: Restoration Family Day in the Park, 2 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Hessel Park, Champaign.

Restoration Urban Ministries will be celebrating its 18th year with music, food and games, including a dunk tank and inflatables.  

For information: Call 355-2662 or visit

Stars & Stripes & Sousa! “Ice Cream and Independence: A Live Radio Show, 5 to 9 p.m. Saturday,  Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park St., C. Admission charge.

Kick off your Fourth of July celebrating with this live radio show hosted by WDWS radio personality Jim Turpin, a Sousa-style concert featuring marches, patriotic numbers, overtures and songs by the Concert Band of Central Illinois. P— plus special guest  "Lt. John Philip Sousa." Pre-show entertainment and ice cream from Marble Slab Creamery, 5 to 6:30 p.m., show at 7 p.m. (Keep an eye out for News-Gazette 'celebrity' readers...)

Tickets are $8 for children and $10 to $16 for adults, seniors and students, available by phone or at the ticket office. Online orders $2 extra.

For information: Call 398-2550 or 356-9063 or visit the Virginia’s website

What’s the buzz? Pollinator Discovery Day, 1 p.m. Sunday, University of Illinois Pollinatarium, 606 W. Windsor Road, U.

Learn how bees and other pollinators affect our world as the museum commemorates National Pollinator Week. Activities run from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m., but kids’ events scheduled from 3 to 5 p.m. include face-painting, honey-tasting and crafts. The Duke of Uke will also perform at 6:30 p.m.

For information: Call 265-8302 or visit the event's website

Hessel Park Concert. 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Hessel Park, Champaign. Free.

Singer-songwriter Nicole Witt will perform. An accomplished fiddler and pianist, she has also co-written songs for George Strait, Diamond Rio and Wynonna.  In November of 2009, Ednita Nazario recorded a song that Witt wrote with Nick Carter of the Backstreet boys, “Two Forevers,” her first Latin cut. Her voice can also be heard on the Pete Sternberg penned-tune, “Rusty” found in the Will Smith movie “Seven Pounds.”

For information:  Call 398-2550 or visit the park district's website or Nicole Witt's website

Coming soon:

Neighborhood Nights: Delta Kings, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, AMBUCS Park, Urbana. Free.

The Urbana Park District’s Neighborhood Nights Concert Series features the Delta Kings this week, with free popcorn and lemonade, games and activities and a close-up look at Urbana city vehicles. Bring your blankets or lawn chairs.

For information: Call hotline 367-9575 or 367-1544 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,


Top: Dennis Boyce of Philo comes out of the shoot riding bareback at the 2008 Piatt County Trail Blazers Rodeo. John Dixon/The News-Gazette

Middle: Waylon Lomax, of Danville works on some art of his ownat the 2008 Arts in the Park at Lincoln Park in Danville. Holly Hart/The News-Gazette

Bottom: Scout Charlie Snell of Champaign enjoys his free vanilla ice cream at the Historic Virginia Theatre in Champaign at the 2008 "Ice Cream and Independence" show. Darrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette


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