Local News

Woodstock’s Groundhog Days set with scaled back schedule for coming weekend

Breakfast, movies, dinner dance and chili cook-off canceled because of virus

Groundhog Days festivities still are on the calendar next week in Woodstock to help the city celebrate the 28th anniversary of the release of the film “Groundhog Day,” starring Bill Murray and filmed in Woodstock, but COVID-19 has caused organizers to scale back the festival.

No official Groundhog Day breakfast will take place this year, and no dinner dance chili cook-off or group movies either, because organizers were unable to host such events safely in compliance with the Restore Illinois and federal COVID-19 guidelines, according to the website woodstockgroundhog.org.

A prognostication still us set to be held, meaning attendees to the city’s Park on the Square downtown can watch whether Woodstock Willie sees his shadow, which would, as legend has it, mean six more weeks of winter weather. That will take place 7 a.m. Feb. 2. Masks and social distancing are required.

The prognostication also will be livestreamed online this year.

Afterward, the Toast to World Peace will be held on the outdoor patio at the Public House of Woodstock, according to the event website.

In the days leading up to Woodstock Willie’s prediction, the Welcoming of the Groundhog will take place 6 p.m. Friday at the Woodstock Opera House. Starting at 6:30 p.m. Friday, Groundhog Day trivia will be held at the opera house, with limited available seating.

Ortmann’s Red Iron Tavern is hosting its annual outdoor bags tournament, with social distancing measures in place. Teams can sign up online at bit.ly/3sPP4rj. The contest will help raise funds for the Woodstock Food Pantry, and participants are asked to bring a non-perishable food item. There is a $250 prize for first place, $100 for second and $40 for third, according to the registration website.

Each entertainment venue will have a specified capacity limitation that they will enforce, according to the website WoodstockGroundhog.org.