By Anne Eickstadt

ANNE EICKSTADT PHOTO Belvidere Republican
The Main Street Players performed ‘Aw, Shucks!’ In the top photo, Maw assures the horse, “I do NOT talk to animals!” In the middle photo, a family, adults and kids both, learned how to play disc golf from the professionals who came out to instruct anyone who wanted to learn the game. In this photo, visitors to Unplug Illinois got to find out about the equipment carried on the 101 Engine from the Belvidere Fire Department.

The Fourth Annual Unplug Illinois Day was held on Saturday, July 9. Unplug Illinois is a campaign created by the Illinois Park and Recreation Association that encourages people to unplug from their electronic devices and plug into play, creativity, friendship, adventure, and family.

On July 9, they encouraged people throughout Illinois to ditch their electronic devices and “unplug” to enjoy everything that their local park, recreation, and conservation agencies have to offer.

The Belvidere Park District had a full day of activities planned for Unplug Illinois. The day began with a Birdwatching Hike starting at 7:30 a.m. with Joel Neylon from Wild Birds Unlimited during which participants could learn about local birds residing in the park.

Birdwatching was followed by a Reptile/Amphibian Hike at 8 a.m. with Aarron Minson from Boone County Conservation District to explore local reptiles and amphibians.

At 8:30 a.m. a Coffee and Food Truck from Sips and Sprinkles had their truck at the Baltic Mill with coffee and pastries and moving into the day with lunch options and ice cream. Other local food trucks from Big Jon’s Dogs and More, Pit Stop Barbecue, Mario’s Taco Express, Olive Branch, and J&C Old Fashioned parked nearby for the rest of the day.

The scheduled Duck Derby and the Fishing Clinic did not happen, possibly due to the height of the river and the swift current.

At 10 a.m. a Disc Golf Clinic with instructors from the Rockford Disc Golf Club were on

on hand to introduce you to disc golf, Musician Marty Deardorff will be on the Baltic Mill stage with some family-friendly music, and Dan Kane from the Boone County Conservation District spoke on ‘The Kishwaukee – An Amazing Local Treasure’ sharing the truly unique qualities of this special river.

 Tree Identification Hike led by Boone County Master Gardener and Master Naturalist

Barb Wych began at 11 a.m. as did a Story Time led by the Ida Public Library who not only provided a story but a craft as well.

Also, at 11 a.m. the Loteria (Mexican Bingo) was held. It’s like American Bingo but with pictures instead of numbers. The League of United Latin American Citizens (LULAC) hosted this game suitable for all ages.

At 11:30 a.m., was a free Fitness Class led by PCF Fitness.

At noon, an Unplug Activity Area was set up to wander through and try something interactive.

A Lawn Game Demo and Play area included Lawn Darts, Bags, Bucket Toss, Spike Ball, Jenga, Kubb (a cross between Chess and Bocci), Jenga, Frisbee Knockdown, and a Spider Throw. At the nearby picnic tables, they had Web Builder games with yarn to create a Tangle Web or an Orb Web for those not inclined to be as physically active as the lawn games required.

This area included a Mystery Trail, Touch a Truck, and other activities from Boone County Conservation District, Belvidere Police Department, Belvidere Fire Department, National Guard, and more.

The events for the rest of the day included a History Walk about Belvidere Park, a Chalk Area,

Paint in the Park, Plant Identification, Bubbles, an Outdoor Cooking Demo, Rock Painting, Dance lessons, and more.

The day’s events concluded at 9 p.m. when Stargazing, led by NASA/JPL Solar System Ambassador Space Case Sarah ended.

A completely full day of activities designed to entertain and enlighten everyone kept participants smiling and unplugged for a full day.

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