As summer slips gently into autumn, there is still no shortage of weekend town festivals and community events.
The Fox Valley Park District hosts a Fall Harvest Festival, while the Irish American Society of County Will celebrates all things Irish and Scottish at the Will County Celtic Festival and Aurora recognizes another culture at the Fiestas Patrias.
Finally, step back in time for a weekend at Lisle’s Depot Days or the Big Rock Plowing Match.
Many of these events are free and all are open to the public. It’s a chance to get a little education and a lot of fun at the same time.
Big Rock Plowing Match Festival
♦ Sept. 13-15
♦ Plowman’s Park, 48W508 Hinckley Road, Big Rock
♦ (630) 556-3171
The 119th annual Big Rock Plowing Match Festival gets underway Sept. 13-15. The plowing match is one of the last plowing match competitions still in existence in the U.S.
Presented by the Big Rock Plowman’s Association, the three-day fest is a down-home country fair with entertainment, kids’ activities and auctions.
The first Big Rock Plowing Match was in 1895. It was a chance for local farmers to plow against one another in a competition. The rules that were established are still followed today.
Today is “Kid’s Night” and features a bicycle parade, carnival wristband special and entertainment from a DJ.
Saturday begins with a Tractor Trot 5K fun run and the Western and English Horse Show. The first plowing is at 9:30 a.m., followed by children’s races and a barbecue pork chop and chicken dinner.
Afternoon events include a baked goods auction, pedal tractor pull and the Round Bale Roll-Off at 4 p.m. (That’s a contest that tests teams of three people trying to roll a 1,200-pound bale of straw several feet across a finish line. Two teammates push the bale while the third tries to stay on top.) The evening finds a barbecue dinner, music by the Wooden Rockers and a wristband special on the carnival.
Sunday’s events include a church service, plowing, watermelon eating contest, horseshoe tournament, farmer’s market auction, beef show and auction, bingo, prince and princess contest and trophy presentation.
Ongoing events include the carnival and craft show.
Will County Celtic Fest
♦St. Joseph Park, 1500 N. Raynor Ave., Joliet
The Will County Celtic fest runs from noon to 10 p.m. Sept. 14 at St. Joseph Park in Joliet and celebrates all things Celtic.
The day kicks off with opening ceremonies by the Chicago Police Department Emerald Society Bagpipes and Drums. That is followed by live music all day long on the main stage courtesy of Cutthroat Shamrock, Tallymoore, John Condron and the Old Gang Orchestra, Reilly, The Ploughboys and Colm O’Brien. There will also be dancing demonstrations from the Keigher Academy of Irish Dance and the Royal Scottish Country Dance Society.
Over in the Heritage Area, fans can meet race car driver Peter Dempsey at 12:30 and 4 p.m., hear more music from Tallymoore and the Emerald Society Pipes and Drums, learn the Irish Jig and experience rugby for beginners.
Children will keep busy with a bounce house, crafts, petting zoo and Wee Folk area for toddlers with a sandbox, log cabin and train table.
Older kids can plant a shamrock, touch a truck, get their faces painted and see a magic show. There will also be an inflatable obstacle course and potato sack races at 1 and 6 p.m.
Naturally, there will be Celtic vendors and food vendors.
Additionally, in honor of St. Patrick’s Church 175th Anniversary, there will be an all-year class reunion.
♦ Sept. 14-15
♦ Lisle Station Park, 921 School St., Lisle
♦ (630) 968-0499
New this year is a Depot Night from 7 to 9 p.m. Sept. 14, with Yorkville folk group The Giving Tree Band performing.
Depot Days features live music, hayrides, a petting zoo, museum tours, pioneer demonstrations and children’s activities. It’s a chance to experience Lisle’s pioneer early history. The hours are noon to 5 p.m.
There will be demonstrations in blacksmithing, corn grinding, log sawing, hay baling and rope making; as well as early pioneer games and contests. Other early craft demonstrations include canning, sewing, knitting, beekeeping, leather working, quilting, natural dying, rug hooking and soap making.
Some of the contests include seed spitting and pie eating, as well as sack racing and tug of war.
♦ RiverEdge Park, 360 N. Broadway, Aurora
♦ Sept. 14-15
♦ (630) 896-6666
Fiestas Patrias celebrates the sound, culture and flavor of Mexico at its new home at RiverEdge Park.
The two-day family festival features a variety of international music acts, folklorico dancing, exhibit booths and food vendors.
Various genres of music will be performed throughout the weekend; including banda, mariachi, cumbia, tejano, norteño and rock.
The highlight Sunday will be a parade, which winds through downtown Aurora.
Fall Harvest Festival
♦ Sept. 15
♦ Blackberry Farm, 100 S. Barnes Road, Aurora
♦ Tickets, $4.50-$8
♦ (630) 892-1550
Bring the entire family out to Blackberry Farm from noon to 4 p.m. Sept. 15 to celebrate the fall season.
Children can discover the ways of the pioneer with harvest activities, crafts and entertainment from nationally acclaimed singer/songwriter Chris Vallillo.