1. Ramble through the river towns for great local art
The Fox River Valley from Aurora to Elgin is rich with the arts, and an ongoing collaboration for the arts in the Fox Valley is spearheading a one-day self-guided art tour on Saturday, April 21. Visitors to the Fox River Valley will be able to pick up a printed brochure and an online map of the host sites, with information highlighting showcased displays from Aurora to Elgin. Nearly 50 arts-related locations are participating in this free event. For more information, visit www.foxriverarts.com
2. Celebrate two American treasures in south suburbs
For the first time since it debuted in 2016, the entire national parks quilt exhibit will be on display in Illinois when it opens to the public in June at four Forest Preserve District of Will County locations. People who love the national parks, quilting – or both – should save the date for this fantastic fabric fete to the country’s natural areas.
Though portions of the quilt exhibit were displayed in Illinois in 2016 and 2017, this will be the first time in the state that all 177 quilts included in the collection will be available for viewing. Four Forest Preserve visitor centers will each host around one-quarter of the quilts starting Sunday, June 17, and running through Tuesday, July 3.
Each quilt is a work of art incorporating materials and objects reflective of the park it represents. The collection highlights 59 national parks in all, with three quilts representing each park's flora, fauna and landscape. More quilt exhibit information will be posted on the Forest Preserve District's website, www.ReconnectWithNature.org, prior to the exhibit opening.
3. Make friends with terrific tree trolls
Six giant and fantastical trolls will take up residence at The Morton Arboretum beginning this spring to surprise and delight visitors of all ages. The first large-scale U.S. exhibition from Danish artist Thomas Dambo, Troll Hunt will take visitors on a journey to find the larger-than-life guardians of the forest living in the Arboretum’s woods. While visitors seek out the creatures, the trolls are in turn trying to make sense of the human world that surrounds them, hunting us with nets and other contraptions to protect the forest from human impact.
The 15- to 20-foot-tall trolls will emerge in locations throughout the Arboretum’s woods during May and June, as Dambo and his team create them using hundreds of pieces of reclaimed wood—battered boards, fallen trees and branches, and the remains of pallets and packing crates. Visitors are invited to watch the artist as he constructs each troll on the grounds. For more information, visit www.mortonarb.org/troll-hunt.
4. Take flight with your family at Cantigny
On Friday, April 20, wish for windy conditions, as Cantigny Gardens hosts Family Night: Fly a Kite! on Parade Field, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
The park kicks off its monthly Family Night series, now in its fourth year, with an evening devoted to kite flying! Bring your own kite or purchase one at Cantigny. Wind permitting, Chicago Kite will demonstrate some larger, fancier models for visitors. The event is free with $5 parking.
5. Fill up for a cause!
Who doesn't love street food? And it's even tastier when its supporting a good cause. On Saturday, April 21, the Exchange Club of Grayslake is hosting the 2nd Annual Lake County Food Truck Frenzy, a fundraising event for the Prevention of Child Abuse, from noon-5 p.m. at the Lake County Fairgrounds. With more than 22 trucks registered, no one in the family will go hungry! Visit www.Exchangeofgrayslake.org for details and participating purveyors.
6. Walk the Wright way, at architectural tour
From Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style to a stately mansion inspired by European design, 20th century elegance assumes a variety of architectural forms vividly present on the Wright Plus 2018 Architectural Housewalk, set for Saturday, May 19.
Wright-designed buildings on the walk include the Peter A. Beachy House (1906), a Wright masterpiece with typical Prairie elements blending Japanese influences; the Rollin Furbeck House (1897), a brilliant exploration of architectural geometry during Wright's experimental pre-Prairie period; and the Charles E. Roberts House – designed by legendary Chicago firm, Burnham and Root – which Wright remodeled in 1896.
Thoroughly researched presentation displays and docent-led tours are provided at each building on the Wright Plus 2018 Housewalk. Tickets begin at $90 each and increase by $5 to $10 monthly on a tiered pricing schedule. For more information about the Wright Plus 2018 Housewalk, and a complete list of the homes on the tour, visit www.flwright.org/wrightplus.
7. Celebrate Earth Day Weekend with some earth-friendly competition
BioBlitz is a day-long collaborative race (with a little friendly team competition) against the clock to discover as many species of plants and animals as possible in a set location. Experts, novices and everyone in between can participate in this unique event on Saturday, April 21, at Franklin Creek State Park and Grist Mill, in Franklin Grove.
Teams of five to 10 people, ages 9 and older (children must be accompanied by an adult) work together, learn and enjoy the outdoors, while creating a biological inventory that will help in planning restoration goals and monitor ecological changes over time. All participants must sign up in advance. A maximum of 80 people can participate in the BioBlitz so get your team organized and submit your list as quickly as possible! (Individuals and smaller groups can sign up and will be combined to create appropriate sized teams.)
Sign up at eventbrite.com, or via the link on the Neighborhood Tourist online Calendar, http://www.neighborhoodtourist.com/#!/details/Celebrate-Earth-Day-Weekend-BioBlitz