As 2019 draws to a close, it's never too early to start looking ahead to the new year and all of the fun you can have in the Will County forest preserves in 2020.
In addition to offering all kinds of recreational opportunities on a daily basis with 127 miles of trails, six dog parks and hundreds of weekly programs for patrons of all ages, the Forest Preserve also schedules a full complement of special events each year.
The 2020 lineup features events that will appeal to a wide variety of interests including art, nature, history, fitness and food.
Here are some of the event highlights for 2020:
Eagle Watch 2020: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. January 3-4, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon. Enjoy guided hikes, indoor viewing scopes, family activities and more. Also, "Eagle Watch 2020" marks the beginning of regular public hours for Four Rivers.
Snow Day Festival: noon-4 p.m. January 18, Plum Creek Nature Center, Crete Township. Conquer the preserve’s sled hill, explore the trails on snowshoes, have a snowball fight, watch ice sculpting, and then view the movie “Small Foot” inside to warm up.
Nature Takes Flight Juried Art Competition: March 3-April 4, Plum Creek Nature Center. Artwork created by local artists will be on display prior to the announcement of winners of the juried art show during a closing reception and awards ceremony on April 4. Visitors can vote for their favorites.
Pelican Watch: 10 a.m.-4 p.m. March 14, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Take guided hikes to view these intriguing birds as they rest at Four Rivers during migration.
Pollinators – Little Helpers, Big Results: April-May, Isle a la Cache Museum, Romeoville. Learn all about the diversity of pollinators and how they contribute to the quality of life by helping to provide good food, healthy landscapes, medicines and even food. This exhibition is on loan from the Paly Foundation.
Found Objects Sculpture Trail: April 3, 2020-March 31, 2021, Plum Creek Nature Center. Seven pieces sculpted by artist Jennifer Meyer will be placed along the Snapper Pond Trail for viewing and to show how old abandoned metal can be transformed into whimsical art.
Food Truck Fridays: 5-7:30 p.m. Fridays, June 5-August 28. Food trucks offering a variety of menu items will roll into a different preserve each Friday on a rotating basis. The preserves are located in Shorewood, Mokena, Naperville and Homer Glen.
Arts & Nature on the River: 11 a.m.-3 p.m. June 20, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Stroll the preserve's paths to see artwork, view demonstrations, listen to live music and discover art forms new to you.
Top Ten Truths About Native Peoples: July-September, Isle a la Cache Museum. This exhibit, on loan from the Mitchell Museum of the American Indian, dispels misconceptions about Native People that relate to mascots, casinos and contemporary treaty rights issues.
Ales and Tails: 6-8:30 p.m. July 31, Lower Rock Run Preserve – McClintock Road Access. Enjoy a happy hour in one of the dog park enclosures. Bring a chair, enjoy a beverage and “let the dogs out.” No dog park permit is required for this event, but 2020 permits will be available for purchase.
Hummingbird Fest & Nature Celebration: 1-5 p.m. August 15, Plum Creek Nature Center. Presentations, bird viewing, nature-themed craft vendors and outdoor activities are all a part of this celebration which puts the spotlight on hummingbirds and other pollinators. Watch on a large screen as volunteers band hummingbirds.
Riverview Farmstead Open House: noon-4 p.m. August 1, Riverview Farmstead Preserve, Naperville. Tour the site of the former Clow Family farm. Structures from the mid-1800s include the settlement house, permanent limestone house and timber frame barn, one of the largest of its kind.
Don’t Be a Zombie! Be Prepared: September 1-November 30, Plum Creek Nature Center. This exhibit, on loan from Purdue University Agricultural Center, gives visitors the motivation they need to put together an emergency preparedness kit to survive storms and natural emergencies.
Woods Walk: September 1-November 30. Nature and fitness enthusiasts are challenged to hike 10 pre-selected Will County trails (to be determined in 2020). Hikers log completed trails in the hiking guide. Those who complete seven trails earn a 2020 "Woods Walk" commemorative shield.
Stay up-to-date on the happenings in Will County's forest preserves by subscribing to The Citizen, our weekly digital newsletter that provides subscribers with updates on Forest Preserve news, upcoming events, and other fun and useful information for the whole family. If you're only interested in programs, subscribe to The Weekly Five, which outlines the five must-do programs each week. Signing up for either newsletter is easy and free of charge.