Family Picks: Homecoming & more

Family Picks: Homecoming & more

It’s Homecoming weekend at the University of Illinois, starting with the big parade through campus tonight  — the one with candy — and pep rally on the Quad. You can also take in a free soccer game, cheer on the No. 1 Illini volleyball squad or visit the Veterinary Medicine Open House, a kid favorite. Plus hayrides, harvest festivals and more!

Homecoming Parade: 6 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sixth Street and Laredo Taft Drive, Champaign. Free.

Bring your candy bags and Illini spirit to this annual parade and pep rally! The route starts at Laredo Taft and heads north on Sixth to Armory Avenue, east on Armory Avenue to Wright Street, north on Wright to Green Street, east on Green to Matthews Avenue, south on Mathews to Nevada Street.

The Pep Rally on the Quad follows, with performances by UI organizations, appearances by head football coach Ron Zook and the Illini football team and presentation of the UI Alumni Association’s Lou Liay Spirit Award.

For information: Call 384-2380, 333-1471 or visit this UI website

Goooaaaalll! Illinois Soccer, 7 p.m. Friday and 1 p.m. Sunday, Illinois Soccer & Track Stadium, 1801 S. Wright St., C. Free.

Watch the Illini women take on Indiana on Friday night or Purdue on Sunday afternoon.

For information: Call 866-Illini-1 or visit

No. 1, baby! Illinois Volleyball, 7 p.m. Friday and 7 p.m. Saturday, Huff Hall, 1206 S. Fourth St., C. $5 general admission.

The Illini are ranked first in the country and are facing Indiana on Friday night and undefeated Purdue on Saturday night. Tickets are sold at the gate only. Admission on Saturday is free with a Homecoming football game ticket stub.

For information: Call 866-Illini-1 or visit

1776: Revolutionary War Re-enactment. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, Pioneer Homestead Cabin area, Forest Glen Preserve, near Westville. Free.

Experience life in the 18th century by touring the encampments and seeing Revolutionary War-era fashions, tomahawk-throwing contests, muzzleloader-shooting demonstrations and two large battles each day. Sunday only, watch old-time craft demonstrations and try making rope, candles and apple cider. Children’s games are offered in the afternoon. The event is hosted by the Vermilion County Conservation District.

For information: Call 662-2142 or visit the Forest Glen website

Family Fun Day: 4 to 6 p.m. Saturday, Hessel Park, Champaign. Free.

This event includes inflatables and family games, free food and drawings for door prizes. It's sponsored by Cornerstone Baptist Church of Champaign County and Redeemer Church of Champaign.

For information: Call 356-0891 or visit

All about animals: College of Veterinary Medicine Open House, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday, 2001 S. Lincoln Ave., U. Free.

Besides the infamous cow with a hole in its stomach, you can find more than 40 exhibits and demonstrations, including a kids activity tent with games, face-painting, coloring crafts and more. Learn about everything from cow-milking to animal cancer care, and check out the bright blue frogs!  

For information: Call 333-2907 or visit the Vet Med website for a map and list of exhibits

Strike up the band: 35th annual Panther Marching Band Festival, 10 a.m. Saturday, O’Brien Stadium, Eastern Illinois University, Charleston. Admission charge.

This all-day marching band competition features nearly 40 high school marching bands in Illinois. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for students and senior citizens, and free for ages 5 and under.

For information: Visit the event's website

Music in the Pumpkin Patch: 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, The Great Pumpkin Patch, 1749A County Road 1900 N, Arthur. Admission charge.

The Battle Creek Country Band plays this weekend at the Great Pumpkin Patch, which is open 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. every day through Oct. 31. Check out the pumpkins, squash and gourds, mums, plant mazes, a 1-acre corn maze, garden displays, animals, wagon rides and a selection of eats and sweets, as well as displays, exhibits and demonstrations.

Admission is $2 to $5, or free for children 5 and younger.

For information: Call 543-2394 or visit

It’s a hayride! Forest Glen Hayride, 6 p.m. Saturday, Forest Glen County Preserve, near Westville. Free.

Take a hayride tour of the preserve, the last of the season. Meet at the staff office parking lot.

For information: Call 662-2142 or visit the Forest Glen website

Harvest Festival: noon to 2 p.m. Sunday, St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2200 S. Philo Road, U. Free.

Enjoy food, games, pumpkin-painting and music by the New Life Band.

For information: Call 367-1189 or visit

Puppet show: "The Three Wishes," 2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Urbana Free Library, Lewis Auditorium, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

The  folktale "The Three Wishes" will be performed by Elizabeth Goldsmith-Conley’s Portable Puppets Playhouse, with puppets and the audience talking to one another.

For information: Call 367-4069 or visit the library's website


Check the Are We There Yet? blog every Friday for weekend family-friendly events. To submit an item, e-mail me at, or use the calendar on the News-Gazette home page, For more local events, exhibits and things to do, check out Thursday’s e3 magazine!


Grand Marshal Angela Bizzarri, three-time NCAA champion with Illinois women's track and field, throws out candy during the 2010 UI homecoming parade. Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

Illinois’ Rachel Feldman saves a ball against Cincinnati in the Big Ten/Big East Challenge at Huff Hall in Champaign on Sept. 16, 2011. John Dixon/The News-Gazette

Anastasia Jones, 4, of Bement, enjoys some playtime with Riley, a beagle mix, during a dog-obedience demonstration at the 2010 College of Veterinary Medicine Open House. Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

The Center School, a one-room school at the The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur. John Dixon/News-Gazette file photo


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