If you think Illinois falls short in the festival department; you think wrong! There are some really wonderful times and places to enjoy throughout the year all the way from Chicago to the Ohio River!
Ribfest Chicago: Who do we love? Dad! What does Dad love? Ribs! Give Dad what he loves this Father’s Day weekend at the 21st annual Ribfest Chicago! That’s right – the city’s most highly anticipated summer festival is moving to June 14, 15 and 16 in 2019! Located in the beloved Northcenter neighborhood, you can expect high-quality and diverse food selections and premier musical entertainment! Family entertainment will include music, dance, games and crafts. Other weekend highlights include the Celebrity Judging and People’s Choice competitions to award the prizes for Best Ribs. Pick up your ballot at the festival gate to help decide who should take home the title.
72nd Annual Mendota Sweet Corn Festival: Tons of free, hot, buttered, delicious Del Monte sweet corn will
be the highlight of the 72nd annual Sweet Corn Festival to be held in Mendota, Illinois. Don’t miss the excitement for the festival offers a variety of entertainment events for the entire family. The events take place primarily in the downtown area, with no admission fees or parking fees. Free musical entertainment is in abundance. The Crafters Market Place and flea market features over 200 dealers in hand-made crafts and unique merchandise. There is a Queen Pageant, beer garden with live bands, grand parade and a new carnival with more rides and games for both adults and children, plus much more. August 8 – 11, 2019.
Water Lantern Festival: This festival is filled with fun, happiness, hope, and great memories that you’ll cherish for a lifetime. This is a family friendly event that can be shared by everyone. Friends, families, neighbors, and lots of people that you haven’t met can come together to create a peaceful, memorable experience. Watch and experience the launching of the water lanterns – Beautiful! Gates Open 5:30 – 9:00; Enjoy Food Trucks, Music, and have lots of Fun! Design your lantern between 9:30 – 10:30 then enjoy the Lantern Launch at 5:30
Mushroom Festival: Come listen to live music, browse venders, grab lunch in the restaurant, taste local wines and learn all there is to know about mushrooms. The Great Morel Hunt will be held at 1 p.m. (weather and morel permitting). Join fellow hunters from all over the area as they scan the ground for these delicious delicacies. Then bring your finds back to The Lodge and you can win a great prize! Find the smallest morel, the largest morel or the most morels and you just might go home with a free night’s stay. It’s free. Sun, May 5.
Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks: Created by the Friends of Lake Forest Parks and Recreation Foundation in 2006, the Lake Forest Festival and Fireworks is an annual community event and fundraiser completely run by volunteers to provide a safe and fun environment for families celebrating Independence Day. Over the years, we have brought in award-winning entertainers including The Village People, KC and the Sunshine Band, Eddie Money, and Rick Springfield. Thursday, July 04 from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm
34th Annual Chicago Gospel Music Festival: Chicago Gospel Music Festival will present the top gospel artists in the country. Over the years, the festival has featured traditional choirs to contemporary urban gospel mixed with hip-hop and house music. Friday, May 31, noon–4pm, & Saturday, June 1, 11am–9:30pm
Arthur Cheese Festival: Arthur’s biggest weekend. 3 full days of street festival. Crafts, food, flea market, sidewalk sales, parade, kid rides and games, and lots of cheese. An Auto show, live entertainment, 10k run, Amish strongman competition, antique tractor show; there’s something for everyone. Free cheese each day. August 31 -September 2
Other Festivals: Sheep Festival and Craft Festival
Matthiessen State Park
Illinois’ very own Matthiessen State Park combines canyons, streams, prairie and forest to delight visitors. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for an outing.
Picnicking: The Dells Area of the Matthiessen State Park provides a perfect setting for picnics and an afternoon of relaxation. This area has picnic tables, water fountains and playground equipment, as well as a large parking lot and toilet facilities. An added attraction is the restored fort representative of the fortifications the French built in the Midwest during the 1600s and early 1700s. The main trail to the Cascade Falls area originates in this area. To the south, at the Vermilion River Area, additional picnic shelters, picnic tables, grills and drinking fountains provide convenient picnic facilities. Alcohol is prohibited Jan. 1 through May 31 in the picnic area.
Trails: Matthiessen State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, well-surfaced hiking trails for a relaxing walk or a vigorous hike. Large trail maps are located at all major trail intersections, so visitors can choose a variety of routes. The upper area and bluff tops are easy hiking paths for the novice, but the trails into the interiors of the two dells may be difficult to negotiate, particularly during spring and early summer. Hikers must stay on marked trails, as steep cliffs and deep canyons can be dangerous. Hikers will marvel at the plant and animal life along the trails and have an unparalleled view of geological wonders as they travel through the park. Alcohol is prohibited on all trails.
Cross Country Skiing: There are 6 miles of cross-country ski trails with ski rental available weekends from December through March.
Horseback Riding/Equestrian Camping/Mountain Bikes: The park provides 9 miles of multi-use mountain bike/ horseback riding trails for those who own their own horse or mountain bike. The trails are color coded and marked with the yield order triangle which symbolizes that all users yield to horse riders. An equestrian campground for horseback riders and their horses is located west of Route 178 between Route 71 and the Dells Area entrance. Alcohol is prohibited in all campgrounds. The horseback riders camping, and multi-use trails are open from April 15 (weather permitting-determined by park staff) to October 31.
Hunting: For details on hunting programs, check with Travelkatz for information for Matthiessen, Starved Rock, Sandy Ford and Mitchell’s Grove.
Other Activities: A field archery range with a sight-in area and four separate targets is in the northwestern portion of Matthiessen State Park near Deer Park Country Club just off Illinois Route 71. A radio-controlled model airplane field is located at the Vermilion River Area. Hobbyists and visitors will enjoy flying or watching as these crafts are maneuvered around this open field area.
We recommend flying into Peoria Airport from Tampa, rent a car and drive to Utica where you and your family can enjoy Matthiessen State Park as well as several others in Utica’s area. Just give us a call at 352-277-7300 and we will make a fun filled vacation for you and yours.