Recreation opportunities abound in our region! Here are a few of the best our area has to offer.
Winter Night Hike
Feb. 20, 7-8 p.m. Experience the uniqueness of the woods in winter. We’ll make owl calls and seek evidence of other animals, talk about night vision, and take part in activities that will teach you about what goes on during a winter night. Byron Forest Preserve, 7993 N. River Road, Byron, Ill., (815) 234-8535, byronforestpreserve.com.
44th Rockford Boat, Vacation & Fishing Show
Feb. 20-22, Fri. 3-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Find boats, charters, guides & lodging, fishing tackle, seminars from anglers and guides. $7/$10 weekend pass/Free under age 12. Indoor Sports Center (ISC), 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, (815) 997-1744, landroproductions.com.
Galena Bridal Fair
Feb. 21, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Visit with area businesses who specialize in making your wedding special all in one location. The first 100 brides that register will receive a tote filled with goodies from our businesses. $5. Brides who register online receive free admission. Galena Convention Center, 900 Galena Square Dr., Galena, (815) 947-2878, galenabridalfair.com.
Feb. 21, 6-8 p.m. Begins inside to learn about species common to our region and dissect owl pellets, followed by hike to look for owls. Dress for weather. $7. Big Hill Park Cabin, Afton & Big Hill Roads, Beloit, Wis., (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Beyond The Veil: Stories, Spirits & Psychics
Feb. 21, 7-9 p.m. Join local historian Kathi Kresol for a tour and stories about the 150-year-old history of the building and a short live gallery reading with psychics Paul Smith and Sara Bowker. $20 in advance/$25 at door: Kathi Kresol, (815) 871-4239, hauntedrockford.com. Event: Ethnic Heritage Museum, 1129 S. Main St., Rockford.
Galena Goes ’50s
Feb. 27-28, Fri. 6 p.m., Sat. 9 a.m. Fri. meet & greet at Galena Brewing Co., 227 N. Main St.; Sat. register for dance workshops with professional dance instructors 9 a.m.- 5p.m. Sat. Sock Hop 7 p.m., $10, Turner Hall, 115 S. Bench St. Info/registration: galenaswingdance.com.
35th Annual Rockford Home Show
Feb. 27-March 1, Fri. 3-8 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m.-7 p.m., Sun. 11 a.m.-5 p.m. See what’s new for the home and garden. The ideal place to shop for new products, services, ideas, concepts and expertise on interior and exterior design. Free seminars, fun entertainment for the kids. Indoor Sports Center (ISC), 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, (815) 997-1744, landroproductions.com.
27th Depot Stove Gang Model Railroad Show
Feb. 28-March 1, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Over 28,000 square feet of operating railroads and memorabilia. Drawings every hour both days. Lunch stand by Le-Win Music Boosters available. Donation. Le-Win Elementary School Gym, Junior High School Gym, and Senior High School Gym, 401 Fremont Street, Lena, (815) 369-2684.
National Pig Day
March 1, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. Meet some wee little piggies, put on a pig tail, bring home the bacon, make a piggy bank, learn about these amazing creatures. Included with admission. Discovery Center Museum, 711 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 963-6769, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Cross Country Skiing
March 6, 12:30-3 p.m. All ages and levels welcome. Skis and instructions for beginners included. Hot chocolate waiting upon return. Dependent on snow conditions. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
Sock Monkey Madness Festival
March 7-8, 11 a.m.- 5 p.m. The theme for this year’s event: “Fairy Tales & Red Heels.” Make your own to take home. See world’s tallest sock monkey, learn the history, get your sock money a “check-up,” join in activities. Midway Village Museum, 6799 Guilford Road, Rockford, (815) 397-9112, midwayvillage.com.
Maple Sugar Mania
March 9, 16, 4-6 p.m. This hands-on session will look at the biology of maple trees, the history of maple sugaring, and the science and art of cooking sap into syrup. Of course, participants will all get to sample the real maple syrup. Enjoy an afternoon in the sugar grove learning about how maple syrup is made – from the tree to the table. $5. Registration req. Big Hill Park, (Little Cabin) – South Afton Road & West Big Hill Road, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
Cross Country Skiing
March 11, 9-11:30 a.m. All ages and levels welcome. Skis and instructions for beginners included. Hot chocolate waiting upon return. Dependent on snow conditions. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
March 13, 6-8:30 p.m. Skis and instructions included. Hot chocolate in the Observatory follows, and an opportunity to look through the telescope. Dependent on snow conditions. All ages and levels welcome.Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
St. Patrick’s Day Parade & Party
March 14, 3 p.m. Parade starts at 7th & 5th avenues and ends at Memorial Hall. The party starts right after the parade at the Prairie Street Brewhouse, 200 S. Prairie Street, Rockford, irishmarchingsociety.com.
March 14-15, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. This year focuses on the Triassic and Jurassic periods. This year’s event is a symposium, presenting 20-plus renowned speakers, exclusive programs and activities, and a special dinner and lecture with Dr. Hans-Dieter Sues. Burpee Museum of Natural History, 737 N. Main St., Rockford, (815) 965-3433, burpee.org.
5th Annual Shamrock Shuffle
March 15, 9 a.m. The 5K Run-Walk benefits Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy in the fight against Duchenne. Clock Tower Resort , 7801 E. State St., Rockford, parentprojectmd.org.
44th RV, Camping & Travel Show
March 20-22. See fifth wheels, travel trailers, motor homes, pop-ups, toy haulers, class A, B, & C and even 4 wheelers, visit with campground and lodging representatives. ISC, Loves Park, landroproductions.com.
Maple Syrup Festival
March 21, 7-11 a.m. Pancake breakfast, kid’s crafts, hay wagon tours of the sugar bush, and see the maple evaporator process. Small fee for the breakfast, no charge for other events. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.
March 21, shows 9 a.m.; 10:30 a.m.; noon.; 1:30 p.m.; 2:30 p.m.; 3:30 p.m. Bubble-Palooza Playground; bubble art and activities; shows by bubble celebrity Geoffrey Akins. Not included with admission. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermuseum.org.
Rockford Meltfest 2015
March 21, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Celebrate the melting away of winter and the melting together of the community in this second annual fun family festival. Live music, 5K run/walk, group bike ride, indoor venue, vendors, free ice skating and trolley rides, plethora of family-friendly activities, more. Downtown Rockford, 200 Prairie St. between Prairie Street Brewhouse and Riverview Ice House, meltfest.com.
22nd Annual Egg Artistry Show & Sale
March 21-22, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. See the fantastic works of art created from eggshells, purchase egging supplies and vote for your favorite artistic eggshell creation. Midway Village, Rockford, midwayvillage.com.
Annual Maple Sugar Festival
March 28, 9a.m.-noon. Free admission. See maple trees being tapped and the evaporator as the sap cooks into syrup. Fun games for the kids. An all-you-can-eat fresh-cooked brunch served with REAL maple syrup is available. Free admission. Big Hill Park, South Afton Road & West Big Hill Road, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
ISA/Ken-Rock 2015 Outdoors Extravganza
March 28, 10 a.m. Free fishing seminar, this year focusing on fly fishing for smallmouth bass. Forest Preserves of Winnebago County, Rocktown Adventures, Rock River Fly Casters, Friends of the Kishwaukee River, The Illinois Smallmouth Alliance. Ken-Rock Community Center, 3218 11th St., Rockford, (815) 398-8864.
13th Annual Home & Garden Showcase
March 28-29, 10 a.m. See tons of household products and services to get ready for spring, and “Planters Row” will be back, with flowers, shrubs and plants for you to beautify your yard. Free admission. Forest Hills Lodge, Rockord, (815) 871-7469, showtimeproduction.net.
24th Annual Model Train Show & Sale
March 28-29, Sat. 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Sun. 10 a.m.-4 p.m. See 44,000 sq. ft. of layouts and display, vendors with new and used items and railroad memorabilia. Operating Z, N, HO, O & G scale layouts, railroad memorabilia displays, large scale model train rides, railroad videos,. Jefferson High School, 4145 Samuelson Road, Rockford, (815) 765-3135 / (815) 874-6095, rrvd-nmra.org.
Spring into Science
March 30-31, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Amazing science demonstrations and fresh art and creative crafts. Not included with admission. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermusuem.org.
March 31, 9 a.m.-noon. An exploration of nature as winter changes to spring, led by Greg Keilback. Moderate hike difficulty off trail. Sugar River Forest Preserve, 10127 Forest Preserve Road, Durand, winnebagoforest.org.
Monster Jam Trucks
April 10-11, Fri. 7:30 p.m., Sun. 2 & 7:30 p.m. See the 12-foot-tall, 10,000-pound machines racing and ripping up a custom-designed track full of obstacles to soar over or smash through. Starring the world-famous Grave Digger, the most decorated Monster Jam truck ever. BMO Harris Bank Center, 300 Elm St., Rockford, (815) 968-5222, thebmoharrisbankcenter.com.
Red Shoe Run for Donor Awareness
April 11, 8 a.m. start. Competitive 5K run, non-competitive fitness walk to celebrate National Donate Life month, increase donations of organs, tissue, eye, blood and marrow, and to raise money. NIU-Rockford, 8500 E. State St., Rockford, (815) 398-9628, redshoerun.org.
April 15, 10 a.m. workshop; 11:30 a.m. luncheon; 12:45 guest speaker Melinda Myers. Social hour, live and silent auctions. Benefits Klehm Arboretum & Botanic Garden. Info: klehm.org. Event: Giovanni’s, 610 N. Bell School Road, Rockford.
Earth Day Evening Hike
Apr 22 5:30 p.m. A leisurely hike to celebrate Earth Day. There should be early wildflowers blooming, migrating birds returning, and tree frogs beginning to sing. Wear good hiking shoes for some intermediate hiking in this hilly park. Meet at the first pavilion. Big Hill Park, South Afton Road & West Big Hill Road, Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
2nd Annual Arbor Dash
April 24, 6:30 p.m. race start. A non-competitive fun run or walk through Klehm’s 155 acres of trees and gardens at twilight.
Hoo Haven Live Animal Show
April 24, 5 p.m. Local wildlife rehabilitators with several live animals to see and learn about. Tickets available by phone or at the door. Beloit Memorial High School, 1225 4th St., Beloit, (608) 361-1377, weltycenter.org.
April 25, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Free planetarium shows, star maps, and glittery star crafts. Check out the inner workings of a telescope and take a close-up look at our star the Sun with the Rockford Amateur Astronomy Club. Discovery Center, Rockford, discoverycentermuseum.org.
April 25, 10 a.m.-2 p.m. Join us at the quarry any time; stay for as long as you wish. We’ll be digging through the piles before there’s any spring growth to see what we can find. Bring a hammer to crack open the bigger ones and a bucket to cart away your finds. Fossil identification and guides provided. Meet at Stone Quarry parking lot. Byron Forest Preserve, Byron, byronforestpreserve.com.