Three days of fun in Family Picks!

Three days of fun in Family Picks!

It's Labor Day weekend, your last chance to enjoy Sholem Pool before it closes for the 2011 season. Or check out cheese curling (is that an Olympic sport yet?) at the Arthur Cheese Festival, go for a hayride in Westville, or enjoy free blues music Sunday night at Hessel Park. And don't forget the annual Labor Day parade and family celebration in Urbana - free candy and inflatables, yeah!

Pool hours:  Sholem Aquatic Center: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday, Sunday and Monday.

For information: visit

Cheeseheads: 39th annual Amish Country Cheese Festival, Saturday through Monday, Arthur.

Where else can you get more than 800 pounds of fresh cheddar cheese served free with crackers? This one-of-a-kind festival in the heart of Amish country features the National Cheese Eating Championships and International Cheese Curling Championships (kids and adult divisions!), not to mention craft and food vendors, an ice cream social, tractor pull, parade and music.

Craft and street vendors will be open from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday and 9 a.m. to 5-6 p.m. Monday. Main Stage entertainment will feature country, gospel, bluegrass, ’50s and ’60s music all day Saturday and Monday and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. For the athletic among you, try the Rat Race 5K and 10K run/walk on Monday ($25 entry fee), or a 1-mile fun run or kiddie fun run.

For information: Call 543-3449 or 800-722-6474 or visit

DeLand Celebration: 5 p.m. Friday and 10 a.m. Saturday, DeLand.

This annual community celebration features games, food and a DJ on Friday night, and on Saturday a full day of games, bounce houses for the kids, helicopter rides, food from the Masons, truck and tractor pulls, bingo, and a 10 a.m. parade, plus a Top-12 Car Show from 3 to 7 p.m. Sept. 3 on Main Street.

For information: Call 737-3167 or visit this facebook page

Ride 'em cowboy! Extreme Cowboy Race and Equine Expo,2 to 9 p.m. Friday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Sunday, Gordyville USA, Gifford.

World champion horse trainers Craig Cameron, Richard Winters, Steve Lantvit and Tim Austin will demonstrate horse-handling techniques and training tricks. The Extreme Cowboy Races are set for 6:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and the championship ride at 3 p.m. Sunday. Or enjoy shopping and educational exhibits and entertainment by the Feudin’ Hillbillys at 8 p.m. Saturday.

Tickets at the gate: $5-$10 per day or $15-$25 for a three-day pass; children under 12, free. Concert tickets sold separately at the door.

For information: Call 612-709-5790, 630-462-2883 or visit

Go green: Leaf and Tree ID Hike, 10 a.m. Saturday, Forest Glen Preserve, Edgewood Center, Westville.

This free tour is for students who need leaf collections for school requirements or anyone interested in a leaf collection. Children should be accompanied by an adult. Bring a magazine to put leaves in, and a pen and slips of paper to write on.

For information: Call 662-2142 or visit

Forest Glen Hayride: 6 p.m. Saturday, Forest Glen County Preserve, near Westville.

Meet at the staff office parking lot.

For information: Call 662-2142 or visit

Music in the barn: Allerton Music Barn Festival 2011, through Monday, Allerton Music Barn, Monticello. Admission charge.

The concerts are pricey for a family, but it's a beautiful place to hear classical music, and you and your kids can enjoy the hiking and sculptures at Allerton, too.

Because of the heat, Friday night's 8 p.m. performance featuring Arturo Sandoval and the UI Jazz Faculty has been moved indoors to the Foellinger Great Hall at the Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, 500 S. Goodwin Ave., U.

Saturday's concert features the Pacifica Quartet with John Dee and Ian Hobson, 8 p.m. On Sunday, hear Mourning Music at 10 a.m., a concert dedicated to those who perished on 9/11 and to their families; and Stefan Milenkovich, violin, and Rohan De Silva, piano, at 8 p.m. An Evening Serenade featuring the music of R. Strauss and Dvorak is scheduled for 8 p.m. Monday.

Tickets are $20-$26 per concert; weekend pass, $100-$130.

For information: Call 333-6280 or 800-527-2849 or visit

Free music!  Music at Curtis Orchard featuring Denny K, noon to 4 p.m. Sundays through Oct. 30, Curtis Orchard, 3902 S. Duncan Road, C. Free.

Enjoy toe-tapping country, oldies and rockabilly on your trip to the apple orchard.

For information: Call 359-5565 or visit

Free blues: Candy Foster and Shades of Blue, 6:30 to 8 p.m. Sunday, Hessel Park, Champaign. Free.

Hear some cool R&B at the last free concert of the season at Hessel Park.

For information: Call 398-2550 or visit

It's a parade! Labor Day Parade/Familiy Celebration,10 a.m. to noon Monday, downtown Urbana and Prairie Park, Washington Street/Lierman Avenue, Urbana. Free.

This annual parade is a favorite of the younger set because it still includes candy! The parade starts at Lincoln Square, then moves south on Broadway Avenue to Washington Street and east to Prairie Park. The family celebration includes a softball tournament and free hot dogs, chips, drinks and inflatables! The event is hosted by the Central Labor Council/Champaign County AFL-CIO.

For information: Call 352-5151

Coming soon:

Free and Family Friendly at ELLNORA 2011

The Krannert Center's annual guitar extravaganza, which starts next Thursday, will offer nearly 30 events, almost half of them free. From intimate concerts with classical artists to lobby jam sessions, there's an  affordable experience for every age.

After the $5 Opening Night Party on Thursday — which has complimentary, kid-friendly hair braiding, temporary tattoos, and guitar pick jewelry making — you can return on Friday, Sept. 9, for free concerts at noon, 4 p.m. and 5 p.m. featuring The Tony Rice Unit, Luther Dickinson and Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Chris Thile and Michael Daves.

For the youngest concert-goers, Dan Zanes and Friends will team up with the East Central Illinois Youth Orchestra for a noontime concert on Saturday, Sept. 10. 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 5:45pm.

Get the full lineup at


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,


Calin Garrett, 11, of Arthur tries to control a rolling cheese wheel during the cheese curling championships at the 2004 cheese festival in downtown Arthur.  Cheese curling is similar to the Olympic sport, except a cheese wheel is used instead of a stone. Robin Scholz/The News-Gazette

The UI School of Music's Allerton Music is set for this weekend, although Friday night's performance has been moved to the Krannert Center because of the heat. File photo/Chris Brown photography


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