This weekend, thousands of visitors will descend upon St. Charles for the annual Scarecrow Festival.
In addition to the handmade scarecrows, there’s a large arts and crafts show, live entertainment and a carnival.
Nearby, there’s the annual Cantigny Fall Festival in Wheaton, where families will find lots for little ones to do. Finally, try the stew at the Burgoo Festival in Utica.
St. Charles Scarecrow Festival
♦ Oct. 11-13
♦ Downtown St. Charles
♦ (800) 777-4373
The 28th annual St. Charles Scarecrow Fest runs this weekend in downtown St. Charles, where thousands of people will flock to partake in fall fun.
The uber-popular fall festival centers on the Scarecrow contest, which boasts more than 150 hand-made scarecrows displayed in Lincoln Park. Visitors can vote on their favorites.
There will also be live entertainment, an arts and crafts show, carnival, petting zoo and a make your own scarecrow area. Hours are from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday and from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday.
The Autumn on the Fox Arts and Crafts show is in Pottawatomie Park, and runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday.
The Make Your Own Scarecrow event will be in two locations this year, thanks to the enormous popularity of the event. You can choose from a location on 1st Street and one in the Municipal Center parking lot. Bring your own clothes or pick some up on-site.
While the main entertainment stage will be in Lincoln Park, three new entertainment areas will be located on 1st Street between Main and Illinois.
There will also be an ice cream eating contest, pumpkin carving, vintage market, festival foods and fall photo booth.
Visitors are encouraged to use the two remote lots at Charlestowne Mall and take the free shuttles to the Festival.
Cantigny Fall Festival
♦ Oct. 12
♦ Cantigny Park, 1S151 Winfield Road, Wheaton
♦ $5 per car parking
♦ (630) 668-5161
It’s time for harvest fun at Cantigny Park’s annual Fall Festival.
From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, families can enjoy themselves with a variety of activities. There will be inflatable jumpers, a scarecrow display, pumpkin decorating, a pumpkin ring toss, a petting zoo and pony rides.
There will also be a craft show, candy dive, hay rides, a children’s craft and Monster Mural from 10 to 11:30 a.m. 1:30 to 3 p.m.
Additionally, there will be face painting, a Super Stolie children’s concert at 2 p.m. and music from The Salt Creek Boys.
There is a nominal fee for face painting, petting zoo, hay rides and pony rides. Concessions will be available for sale, along with Cantigny honey and honey-based products like soap and lip balm. An assortment of fall decorations will be for sale in the Cantigny Shop, as well as autumn plants and flowers from the park’s greenhouse.
Utica Burgoo Festival
♦ Oct. 13
♦ LaSalle County Historical Society & Museum, Utica
♦ (815) 667-4861
The LaSalle County Burgoo Festival returns to Utica from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. this Sunday.
A fundraiser for the LaSalle County Historical Society, the 44th annual Burgoo Festival is one of the longest-running and largest fall festivals in northern Illinois.
The festival is named for the pioneer delicacy burgoo, but it has evolved into a day-long street fair. There will be more than 250 arts and crafts vendors and flea marketers on hand, as well as musicians and other entertainers.
If burgoo isn’t your thing, additional food vendors will offer pork chops, barbecue, homemade ice cream and pies, and cold drinks.
The burgoo — a stew created from beef, carrots, potatoes, hominy, celery, tomatoes, cabbage, onions, peppers and other vegetables — is blended with spices and herbs and cooked outdoors for between 12 and 18 hours over a wood-burning fire.
It’s tended by volunteers who spend the night chopping vegetables and stirring the kettle for the Burgoomeister, the local chef who’s in charge of the dish.