Family Picks welcomes fall with festivals, music and more!

Family Picks welcomes fall with festivals, music and more!

Fall is just around the corner, and the flurry of festivals continues this weekend! Orchard Days in Savoy, Vemilion River in Danville and a celebration in Monticello. Or take a jazz walk through Meadowbrook Park, enjoy prairie life with the kids in Mahomet or try your hand at the annual Punt, Pass and Kick competition. Happy almost fall!

Jazz Walk: 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. Friday, Meadowbrook Park, Urbana. Free.

Listen to jazz combos and groups as you stroll along the Wandell Sculpture Garden path lighted with luminaries. And visit the newly renovated Dairy Barn. Featured performers: Jonathan Ustin Trio; Mark Smart and Mark Ginsberg; Peter and the Wolves; Jonathan Beckett and Young Kim; Jazz Cycle: Gary Cziko and Tom Paynter; Katie Flynn and Guitar; Dorothy Martirano, Erik Lund, Armand Beaudoin, Chris Reyman and Tamin Totzke; and New Orleans Jazz Machine.

For information: Call 367-1544 or visit

Savoy Orchard Days: 5 p.m. to midnight Friday and and 9 a.m. to midnight Saturday, Dana Colbert Park, 203 E. Church St., Savoy. Free.

Enjoy two days of entertainment as well as hands-on activities for kids, carnival rides, bingo, an antique car show, beer tent and vendors. On Saturday, starting at 10 a.m., children’s events include a kiddie tractor pull, face-painting, arts and crafts, balloons, a fire safety house, strolling street magicians and the carnival rides. Live music features the Girls Next Door at 5:45 p.m. Friday and Tons ‘O’ Fun at 8 p.m. Friday on main stage, and much more starting at noon Saturday.

For information: Call 359-5894 or visit the Village of Savoy's website

Monticello Celebration: 6 to 11 p.m. Friday and 9:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, downtown Monticello, Court House Square. Free.

New Friday night activities this year include a car show and car cruise, as well as live music. On Saturday, don’t miss the pet parade and contest at 10 a.m., as well as tumbling, kids’ corner make-it-take-it, games, inflatables, a children’s corn hole tournament, vendors and and a kiddie tractor pull, 10 a.m. For adults, there’s a corn hole tournament at noon and a “husband/hog-calling contest” at 1 p.m., as well as music all afternoon.

While you're there, visit the Monticello Railway Museum for its annual Railroad Days celebration!  All-day tickets let you ride a passenger train with former Illinois Central coaches, a mixed-freight train and more, as often as you want. Trains run from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for children ages 2 to 12, and free for ages 2 and under.

For information: Call 762-9318 or visit or the Railway Museum website

Vermilion River Fall Festival: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, Ellsworth Park, Oakwood Avenue, off West Main Street, Danville. Free.

Enjoy crafts, a flea market, kids’ inflatable toys, a scarecrow camp, pony rides, a touch-the-truck display, dunk tank, tomahawk-throwing contest and demonstrations, a silent auction, beer garden and mechanical bull riding, as well as commercial and food vendors.

Music on the band stage: 90s Daughter Bandat 5:30 p.m. Friday; Country Classics at noon, Tons ’O’ Fun Band at 6 p.m. Saturday, and In All Honesty Band at 3 p.m. Sunday.

For information: Visit the Danville parks website

Rhythm and drums: Bolokada Conde and Rhythm Manding, 7 p.m. Friday, University YMCA, 1001 S. Wright St., C. Free.

The master drummer and expert of Malinke rhythms will perform a free show with his band, Rhythm Manding.
A native of Guinea, and one of the world’s best djembe players, Conde has been living in Champaign-Urbana since 2008. As a visiting artist at the University of Illinois, he has taught drumming classes for UI students, public schools and the community as part of the “World Music and Dance in the Schools” program.

He is the premiere soloist for Les Percussions de Guinee, touring internationally through Europe and the United States, and was musical director and lead soloist for the international Ballet Warraba. He is also featured in the IMAX movie, “Pulse: A Stomp Odyssey.”

For information: Call 337-1500 or visit the YMCA's website

Prairie Stories: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday, Museum of the Grand Prairie, Lake of the Woods Forest Preserve, 600 N Lombard St., Mahomet. Free.

Enjoy a hands-on afternoon of historic activities and crafts with the kids. Watch actual blacksmiths and artisans as they work; sample hush puppies, apple butter and apples; and enjoy the strains of the band Banjulele playing old-time songs of Illinois.

For information: Call 586-2612 or visit

Sprouts at the Market: 9 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Market at the Square, Lincoln Square Mall parking lot, 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. On Saturday, children will learn about the new “My Plate” nutrition guidelines, the importance of family mealtimes, and get a chance to sample produce and other foods.

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

Pigskin challenge! NFL/Pepsi Punt, Pass and Kick competition, noon Saturday, Champaign Park District’s Dodds Park Soccer Complex, 2400 W. Bradley Ave., C. Free.

Show off your football skills by competing for distance and accuracy in three categories. The overall top scorer in each category advances to the sectional competition, usually held in October, and sectional winners move on to Team Championshps at Soldier Field.

Divisions are separate by gender and age. Participants must have a copy of their birth certificate or proof age to register. No cleats allowed.

For information: Visit the park district's website

Fun days: Sidell Fun Days/Jonah Fish Fry, 1 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sidell Water Tower Park, Main Street, Sidell. Admission charge.

Enjoy children’s activities, competitive games with prizes, raffle drawings, entertainment and music by the Bounty Hunters from 5 to 7 p.m. For the kids, there’s a kiddie tractor pull, carnival games, sponge race, swinging doughnuts, obstacle course and a sack race. The car, tractor and motorcycle show is at 2 p.m.; the fish fry is from 4 to 7 p.m.

Admission is $8 for adults, $4 for ages 6 to 12, and free for ages 5 and under. (In case of bad weather, the event will be at Sidell Village Hall, Market Street.)

For information: Call 288-0976 or visit the County Star's website

Music at Curtis Orchard: GTO and the Glasspaks, noon Saturday, Curtis Orchard, 3902 S. Duncan Road, C. Free.

Here’s a new twist: visiting the pumpkin patch while listening to classics from Elvis to the Beatles to the Stones.

For information: Call 359-5565 or visit the orchard's website

Prompting theater: ‘Tales from Hans Christian Andersen.’ Developmental Services Center’s Prompting Theater, 3 p.m. Saturday, SoDo Theater, 114 S. Neil St., C. Admission charge.

The Prompting Theater adapts for the stage four classic tales: “The Tin Soldier,” “The Old Street Lamp,” “The Little Matchstick Girl” and “The Emperor’s New Clothes.” Admission is $10 at the door.

For information: Call 356-9176 or visit the DSC website or the News-Gazette online calendar

UFLive!: Traditional Jazz Orchestra. 2 to 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Urbana Free Library, Lewis Auditorium, 210 W. Green St., U. Free.

This band plays music from the early 20th century when jazz was young, from King Oliver, Louis Armstrong, Jelly Roll Morton, Fats Waller, and other popular composers from the period.

For information: Call 367-4405 or visit the library's website

Coming up:

Orpheum LEGO® Contest: Award Ceremony 3:30 to 5 p.m. Sept. 24, Orpheum Children’s Science Museum, 346 N. Neil St., C. Museum admission/$5 entry fee.

Do you love building and creating with Legos? Enter the Orphum’s fourth annual competition designed to highlight the skills of local junior engineers.
Participants can build an entry on their own or with a team. Winners, to be announced Sept. 24, will be chosen in four age groups: first grade and younger, second and third grade, fourth and fifth grade, or sixth grade and older  (which includes adult-child collaborations). Prizes may include gift shop certificates, party packages and LEGO sets.

Entries will be judged on originality of the idea and creativity of the build and the amount of detail in the projects. Contestants can drop off their entries and register from Saturday, Sept. 17, through Friday, Sept. 23 during museum hours.

Even if you don’t enter, you can visit the museum during the awards ceremony to enjoy building activities for all ages, including advanced LEGO tips for enthusiasts.

For more information and contest rules: Call 352-5895 or visit the Orpheum'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!


Armand Beaudoin, Erik Lund and Dorothy Martirano perform a piece as Donna Davis of St. Joseph and Jim Kippes of Dewey stroll past the trio during the 2010 Jazz Walk at Meadowbrook Park in Urbana. Heather Coit/The News-Gazette

Kate Yahnke of Champaign gets her face painted by Brooke Wolken at the 2010 Savoy Orchard Days festival at Dana Colbert Park in Savoy. Vanda Bidwell/The News-Gazette

Austin Camareno of Danville charges over the top of an inflatable slide during the 2008 Vermilion River Fall Festival at Ellsworth Park in Danville. Rick Danzl/The News-Gazette

Magda Soejato of Champaign punts the ball in an attempt to win two trips to the Super Bowl in San Diego during the Cadillac Drive the Distance competition at halftime of a 2002 Chicago Bears football game at Memorial Stadium. Darrell Hoemann/The News-Gazette.


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lovie_01 wrote on September 16, 2011 at 3:09 pm

The Apple N Pork festival is mentioned in the beginning of the article, but it is not until next weekend for those who are interested in attending!

Julie Wurth wrote on September 16, 2011 at 4:09 pm
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Thanks for catching that - already fixed. I had seen the information in our e3 magazine, then realized it was next week but forgot to change the introduction here. We'll list all the details next week!