Family Picks: A weekend to remember

Family Picks: A weekend to remember

You can mark the 10th anniversary of 9/11 in any number of ways this weekend, including the National Day of Service or the local memorial ceremony Sunday in Urbana. Other highlights include the Arcola Broomcorn Festival, the AMBUCS Scarecrow Festival, the Spurlock Museum's Worldfest, and of course Dan Zanes at the Ellnora Guitar Festival. Or try your hand at LEGOS at the Illini Robotics kickoff event Sunday!

9/11: Ten-year 9/11 Memorial Ceremony, 2 p.m. Sunday, Champaign County Courthouse, 101 E. Main St., U. Free.

The featured speaker is the Rev. John Sims, pastor of the First United Methodist Church in Urbana, who served as a disaster chaplain for families and friends of victims of the 9/11 attacks in New York

Sunday is also a National Day of Service sponsored by Volunteer or do a good deed and log your hours at

For information: Check the News-Gazette's list of 9/11 events

Broom Corn Festival: 9 a.m. Friday through 5 p.m. Sunday, Arcola. Free.

Arcola celebrates its heritage as the "Broom Corn Capital of the World," with broom-making demonstrations, arts/crafts, free entertainment, food and a gigantic parade at 3 p.m. Saturday with the World Famous Amazing Arcola Lawn Rangers, the "precision lawn mower drill team." In 2003, President Barack Obama marched with the Lawn Rangers in the Chicago St. Patrick’s Day Parade to launch his race for the senate, and the team was later invited to march in the 2009 Inaugural Parade in Washington D.C.

For information: Visit

Fight childhood hunger:  FACET Fundraiser, 7 a.m. to noon Saturday, Urbana Market at the Square, corner of Vine and Illinois streets, Urbana. Donations.

Friends Against Children’s Empty Tummies will host its annual "off-the-beaten-path" bake sale and basket raffle to benefit the Eastern Illinois Foodbank’s BackPack Program for hungry schoolchildren. Featured: chocolate truffles, pepperoni bread, marinara sauce, barbecue sauce and other home-made items.  Raffle baskets will have merchandise and gift certificates from local merchants.

Raffle tickets will be sold up until the drawing at 11:30 a.m. Tickets are five for $5, 15 for $10, or 40 for $20.

For information: Visit

Scarecrow Festival: Greater Champaign County AMBUCS’ 19th annual Scarecrow Festival, 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, AMBUCS Park, 1200 E. University Ave., U.

Enjoy a scarecrow costume contest, barrel train rides, hayrack rides, kids’ games and a bounce house, as well as food, a car show, music by the Crazy Johnnie Band, flea market and vendor booths. Sponsored with help from the Sundowners Car Club, the event benefits the Greater Champaign County AMBUCS’ local projects and charities.

For information: Call 377-7112 or visit

WorldFest: 12:15 to 4 p.m. Saturday, Spurlock Museum, 600 S. Gregory, U. Suggested donation.

Get seven performances for the price of one! Enjoy a variety of shows from around the world, including Balinese dance, African percussion and Brazilian martial arts, as well as craft activities for all ages. Suggested donation $5.

For information: Call 244-3355 or visit the Spurlock website

Ellnora for kids: Dan Zanes and Friends, 12 p.m. Saturday, Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U. Admission charge.

This popular children's entertainer will team up with the the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra for a noontime concert as part of the Krannert Center's annual guitar extravaganza, which started Thursday. Tickets are $12 for adults and $5 for kids.

It will be followed by a free lobby show at Stage 5 with the Homebrew Ukulele Union and students from Mary Anne Jusko's fifth-grade class at Robeson Elementary School, who will play original music on homemade instruments. Saturday's lineup will also feature a free acoustic set from Rory Block and Cindy Cashdollar at 5:45 p.m.

Other free kids events are scheduled throughout the weekend.

For information: Visit

Children's theater: ‘Mr. Toad’s Mad Adventures,’ Red Mask Players children’s show, 7 p.m. Friday and 2 and 7 p.m. Saturday, Kathryn Randolph Theater, 601 N. Vermilion St., Danville. Admission charge.

Based on the children's classic by Kenneth Grahame, "The Wind in the Willows," which features four animal characters in a pastoral version of England, including Mr. Toad.  Tickets are $3 to $5.

For information: Call 442-5858 or visit

Music at the orchard: Singing Men of WGNN, noon to 2 p.m. Saturday, Curtis Orchard, 3902 S. Duncan Road, C. Free.

Nearly 60 men from the community harmonize on patriotic music, show tunes, old-time favorite classics, spirituals and hymns.

For information: Call 359-5565 or visit

LEGO robots! Illini Robotics kickoff event, 1:15 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Champaign Public Library. Free.

The new Illini Robotics group, formed this year to promote interest in science, engineering and robotis, will host a FIRST LEGO League event to begin its 2011-12 season. FIRST LEGO League is an international competition that introduces younger students to real-world engineering challenges by building LEGO-based robots to complete specific tasks. It's open to children ages 9 to 14, and anyone who is interested in competing is welcome to attend the kickoff event.

Illini Robotics hopes to form several new teams of students whose schools do not sponsor teams. Information will also be available for high school students interested in higher-level events.

For information: Visit or


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: Pat Monahan of Arcola rolls along with the Lawn Rangers at the 2009 Arcola Broomcorn Festival. Clark Brooks for The News-Gazette

Bottom: Musician Dan Zanes visits Leal Elementary School in Urbana before the 2009 Ellnora guitar festival at Krannert. Vanda Bidwell/The News-Gazette


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