Family Picks: Extended 4th of July edition

Family Picks: Extended 4th of July edition

We all know the big event this Fourth of July weekend, and there are lots of choices for parades, food, festivals and fireworks! We’ve highlighted a few holiday celebrations, but for a full list see our online News-Gazette guide. Or check out other events below!

Happy Independence Day!

Monticello Freedom Celebration: 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday in downtown Monticello; and noon to 11 p.m. Sunday, Lodge Park, Monticello. Free.

Friday’s events include a car show, movie night, Chow on the Town and more. Saturday's highlights are the Freedom Celebration Parade at 2 p.m., along with A Taste of Monticello, antique tractor show, Monticello Back in Time Games, vendors and displays, performances by The Brass Band of Central Illinois and II Ton Heavy Thing. On Sunday. enjoy food vendors, games, bands and more, with the big fireworks show at Lodge Park closing out the day.

For information: Call 762-2583 or visit

Librarians at the market: Market at the Square, 7:30 to 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, Urbana. Free.

Your favorite librarians will be at on hand at the farmers’ market with stories, library information and free balloons .

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit

Arthur celebration:  Festivities starting at 1 p.m. Saturday, locations throughout Arthur. Most events free.

The parade starts at 1 p.m. with bands, antique vehicles, Shrine units and more. The fireworks celebration at Jurgens Park (south of high school) begins at 4 p.m. with an air show featuring World War II aircraft, $20 helicopter rides from Central Illinois Air of Mattoon, skydivers from Mid-America Sport Parachute Club of Taylorville, the Rural Aviator dropping T-shirts from his powered parachute as he flies over the country roads (weather permitting), the Arthur Fire Department launching T-shirts into the crowd and a possible military flyover.

The 24-minute "Gigantic Fireworks Display" begins about 9:30 p.m. and includes a 500-foot-long Niagara Falls and the "Wall of Fire," a 500-foot-long, 75-foot-high wall of flame. Back by popular demand, the Rural Patriot will ride his Horse of Freedom through the Niagara Falls carrying the American flag.

For information: Visit this website

Up, up and away! Great Annual Rocket Launch of 2011, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, Pick Dodds Park by Parkland College, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C. Free admission.

See the Central Illinois Aerospace model rocket club’s biggest rocketry event of the year, with National Association of Rocketry safety-code-approved rockets only. Admission is free, but raffle tickets will be sold to help pay for the event ($1 each or six for $5).

For information: Call 840-1678 or visit

Gussy Up you Bike! 11 to 11:45 a.m. Saturday, Urbana Free Library, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

Kids of all ages can bring their bike to Cherry Alley and get ready for the Fourth of July with streamers and more.  In the case of rain or excessive heat, event will be held in the library’s Lewis Auditorium.

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit

Ford County Fair: Sunday through July 9, northeast corner of Melvin. Admission charge.

The fair kicks off Sunday with a horse show, along with daily entertainment, 4-H exhibits and livestock shows. Other highlights: the Ford County pageant on Tuesday, carnival rides July 6-9; annual talent show July 6; tractor pulls, 6:30 p.m. July 7 and 8; Demolition derby 6 p.m. July 9.

For information: Call 388-2815 or visit

‘Oklahoma!: 8 p.m. Friday, 4 and 8 p.m. Saturday, 2 p.m. Sunday, 8 p.m. Monday, Little Theatre on the Square, 16 E. Harrison St., Sullivan.

Rodgers & Hammerstein’s first collaboration, the original production of Oklahoma! in 1943 was an unprecedented critical and popular success, hailed as “a beautiful and delightful show, fresh and imaginative.” Almost 70 years later, it remains just that.

Tickets are $28 to $30. Performances continue throughout the week.

For information:  Call 728-7375 or visit

‘1787: We the People’: Musical theater, 7:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 2:30 p.m. Sunday, the Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., C. Admission charge.

An original musical written locally about the political and social issus surroundin the Constitutional Convention. Presented by Creative Dramatics Workshop, The News-Gazette and WDWS-AM 1400. Tickets are $10 to $18.

For information: Call 356-9063 or visit the Virginia website

‘Rescuing Rapunzel’: Summer Theatre for Young Audiences, 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Little Theatre on the Square, 16 E. Harrison St., Sullivan. Admission charge.

The 2011 Children’s Theatre Series will host the premiere of a new musical, Rescuing Rapunzel, written by our very own Janie Wallace and Joshua Zecher-Ross. It’s a rough-riding tale of a country gal trapped in a grain silo waitin’ to be rescued by a cowboy gentleman.  Rapunzel wants to see the world, but her Auntie G and a gaggle of gallant princes have other plans in mind.  Can she wrangle and rope her way to freedom?

Tickets are $9. Performances continue next week.

For information: Call 728-7375 or visit

Champaign County Freedom Celebration: “Discovering New Frontiers,” parade at 1:05 p.m. Monday, First Street and Florida Avenue, Champaign; entertainment at 7 p.m. and fireworks at 9:15 p.m. Monday, Dodds Park at Parkland College, near Mattis and Bradley avenues, Champaign. Free.

The parade route starts at First and Florida, continues east on Florida to Lincoln Avenue, then north on Lincoln to California Avenue. Free small American flags will be given to children along route just before parade begins.

On Monday evening, the main stage at Dodds Park will be near the north soccer field parking lot. Post-fireworks entertainment starts at 9:45 p.m.

Other activities include the youth run and 5K race-walk at 9:30 a.m., youth run at 10:30 a.m., and the race-walk at 11:05 a.m. on the east side of Assembly Hall on Fourth Street.

For information: Call 366-3777 or visit

Freedom Fest: Light Up the Lake! 3 to 10 p.m. Monday, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, 109 S. Lake of the Woods Road, Mahomet. Admission charge.

Celebrate our freedom with an evening of family activities capped off by a fireworks display set to music. Admission is $1 per person, or free for kids 5 and under. The rain date is July 5.

For information: Call 586-3360 or visit

Coming soon:

Vermilion County Fair and Expo: July 6-10, U.S. 150, west of Danville. Free.

Carnival opens at 5 p.m. July 6-8 and 1 p.m. July 9 and 10. Grandstand entertainment includes: queen pageant, July 6; truck and tractor pull, 6:30 p.m. July 7; MMA fights, July 8; IPA demo derby, 7 p.m. July 9; Anthem Chevrolet 260 Lap Enduro Race, 1 p.m. July 10. Vendors and concessions, livestock shows, horse shows, “Wild World of Animals.”

For information: Call 260-3144 or visit this website

Historic Farm Days: 7 a.m. to dusk July 7 and 8, 7 a.m. until after fireworks July 9 and 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 10, 10 miles east of Rantoul, off U.S. 136, Penfield.

Displays of antique tractors and farm equipment of the past, demonstrations of threshing, baling, plowing and combining of wheat. Visit a working sawmill, a blacksmith shop, a log cabin, the Old Penfield Church and I&I Historic Farm Museum. Daily events include entertainment, parade of tractors, antique tractor pull and kids’ pedal pull. Plus fireworks on the evening of July 9. Sponsored by I&I Antique Tractor and Gas Engine Club.

For information: Call 202-0970 or visit

Reel Deals: “Rango,” 7 p.m. July 7 and 9, Virginia Theatre, 203 W. Park Ave., C. Admission charge.

Movie is rated PG, run time is 107 minutes. Tickets are $3.

For information: Call 356-9063


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: Fireworks at the 2009 Champaign County Freedom Celebration’s fireworks at Dodds Park in Champaign. Darrell Hoemann/News-Gazette

Middle: Urbana firefighter Dennis Phillips, left and Division Chief Mike Dilley hold onto a 50-foot flag as it rises into the air, suspended between Champaign and Urbana ladder trucks above Lincoln Avenue in Urbana on July 4th, 2002. John Dixon/News-Gazette

Bottom: Photo from this website

Comments embraces discussion of both community and world issues. We welcome you to contribute your ideas, opinions and comments, but we ask that you avoid personal attacks, vulgarity and hate speech. We reserve the right to remove any comment at our discretion, and we will block repeat offenders' accounts. To post comments, you must first be a registered user, and your username will appear with any comment you post. Happy posting.

Login or register to post comments