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Mark your calendars now for exciting 2024 events and exhibitions 

People order food from a mobile food truck.
(Photo by Anthony Schalk)

Now that 2023 is winding down, it’s time to mark your calendars with all the exciting events and exhibitions the Forest Preserve District has planned in 2024.

“The lineup includes something for everyone,” said Lydia Pond, director of the Forest Preserve District’s visitor services department. “The year starts off with a bird-themed art exhibit and the annual Eagle Watch and it winds down with a Pelican Party and a photo exhibit that documents rare savannas and old growth forests.”

In between are free events and exhibitions that will appeal to wildlife watchers, history buffs, art and music lovers, and food truck fans, she added.

“Events and exhibitions are offered throughout the year in all seasons, so there is always something interesting and fun to view or experience,” Pond said. “The Forest Preserve also offers smaller weekly programs, too, so there are many options to choose from.” 

All the events, exhibitions and programs can be easily found on the online event calendar, which presents two months of activities at a time and also includes registration links for the programs that require it.

Here is the lineup of events and exhibitions for 2024:

  • Birds in Art Exhibit: Jan. 2 through Feb. 25 at Plum Creek Nature Center in Crete Township. Paintings, sculptures and graphics created by an international cast of artists will be on display. The 60 works of art are part of a traveling exhibition from the internationally renowned Wausau, Wis.-based Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum. 
  • Eagle Watch: Jan. 13, Four Rivers Environmental Education Center, Channahon. Join the Forest Preserve District as it celebrates eagles with live bird presentations, guided hikes, Talon Talks, family activities, an Eagle Eye Scavenger Hunt and food from Lil’ Deb’s Mobile Eats.
  • Take It Outside Challenge: The 2024 program will feature four seasonal multiweek challenges with one guided hike for each season. Participants will use the free Goosechase app to complete nature-themed missions and earn points to win prizes. 
  • Mammal Madness: March 2 at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. Celebrate our furry friends in the forest. The festivities begin with a live animal presentation by Big Run Wolf Ranch. Following the presentation are mammal-themed activities that are fun for the whole family. 
  • Fun & Food Trucks: Enjoy an evening of summertime fun and food in a preserve on June 14 at Whalon Lake in Naperville, July 12 at Hammel Woods – Route 59 Access in Shorewood, and Aug. 9 at Hickory Creek Preserve – LaPorte Road Access in Mokena. Each date and location will feature a roster of food trucks, a beverage vendor, games and a variety of entertainment. 
  • Pollinator Party: June 15 at Isle a la Cache Museum in Romeoville. Learn about the insects and animals that perform the important task of pollinating plants. See live bats and learn their roles in pollination. Find out how to support pollinators at home with insect hotels, gardens and plants native to our region. Try your hand at exciting pollination challenges, crafts and activities. 
  • Surf and Turf Concert: July 13 at Monee Reservoir in Monee Township. Enjoy live music from the amphitheater either picnic style on the lawn or by renting a boat and enjoying an exclusive evening on the water. 
  • National Night Out: Aug. 6 at Monee Reservoir. Enjoy family activities, food and giveaways offered by multiple vendors during a night that is designed to engage police and the community. Monee, Crete and Forest Preserve District police departments will participate.
  • Hummingbird Festival: Aug. 17 at Plum Creek Nature Center. This special event puts the spotlight on hummingbirds and other pollinators. Watch as a certified bird bander captures and bands hummingbirds. Take part in pollinator-themed crafts and activities and purchase native plants from The Nature Foundation of Will County.
  • Woods Walk: Sept. 1 through Nov. 30. Hike seven of 10 preselected Forest Preserve paths ranging in distance from 1.5 to 4 miles to earn a commemorative medallion. This popular challenge is self paced and a great way to explore new trails and preserves. 
  • Fall on the Farm: Sept. 14 at Riverview Farmstead Preserve in Naperville. Visit the farm for some old-fashioned fun and learn about life on the farmstead. Tour the limestone house and barns, meet some farmyard animals in the petting zoo and try your hand at some farmstead chores. See tractors and antique farm equipment up close and learn what they do. The event also will feature a bounce house, crafts and food trucks. 
  • Indige-Facts Exhibit: Sept. 21 through Dec. 8 at Isle a la Cache Museum. This traveling exhibit from the Evanston-based Mitchell Museum of the American Indian is designed to share information about contemporary Native Americans including accepted terminology, population size and the sovereign rights of Native people. 
  • Pelican Party: Sept. 28 at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. View migrating American white pelicans as they rest up and refuel at Four Rivers. Attendees can view a live pelican in the nature center and join guided hikes to see flocks gathered on the rivers. Discover what sets these birds apart through family-friendly activities, engaging exhibits and interactive stations. 
  • Lost and Found – Remnants of Savannas and Old-Growth Forests: Oct. 14 through Dec. 29 at Four Rivers Environmental Education Center. This traveling exhibit from the Chicago Botanic Garden presents the work of landscape photographer Miles Lowry. Lowry’s pictures capture the grace and grandeur of forest and savanna remnants. Since 2001, he has searched out and documented restored savannas and pockets of old-growth forests, focusing attention on these now-rare landscapes. 

In addition to these larger events and exhibitions, the Forest Preserve will also present mini-events including Maple Syrup Magic on March 16 at Plum Creek, spring and fall trout season fishing and fishing derbies at Hidden Lakes Trout Farm in Bolingbrook, Trick or Treat in the Woods programs at various preserves, a Pumpkin Fun Run on Oct. 12 at Hadley Valley Preserve and a Pumpkin Smash on Nov.  2 at Plum Creek. 

Funding for Eagle Watch, Mammal Madness and Pelican Party is provided by Alliance Pipeline, a joint venture of Enbridge and Pembina, with support from The Nature Foundation of Will County. The Foundation is sponsoring the “Birds in Art” exhibition, the Take It Outside Challenge, Woods Walk, the “Indige-Facts” exhibition, and the “Lost and Found” exhibit. Trout fishing and fishing derbies will be stocked with funds from Bass Pro Shop and Cabela's Outdoor Fund via the Foundation. 

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