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In observance of the Presidents Day holiday, the Daily Chronicle newspaper will not be published February 18. Breaking news and information will be updated on
Local Column

Schrader: Heads up, Trib – DeKalb County has a lot to offer

It was irritating to recently read the Chicago Tribune’s picks for its “Bicentennial Bucket List” of the top 20 must-see events in Illinois for 2018. They completely ignored all of the attractions in DeKalb County, and we have so many.

So off the top of my head, I jotted down at least 50 events I have attended over the years or read about in the Daily Chronicle or MidWeek. I pared it down to 30, leaving out fundraisers and all the church-related and historical societies’ offerings throughout the year (with two exceptions). So don’t feel slighted if your favorite community event is not mentioned here. Just send in a news release to the aforementioned newspapers, and readers can add that to their bucket list if they wish.

The Winterfest at Russell Woods Forest Preserve would have been on the calendar for January, but it was last week. So here are some suggestions for the next 11 months.

• The Winter Horn Fest at Boutell Hall music building on the Northern Illinois University campus Feb. 2 is the first pick on my list chronologically. Second is another Boutell Hall event Feb. 24, when the Kishwaukee Symphony Orchestra performs.

Not even trying to list all of the spring sporting events, school concerts and theatrical and dance performances, such as the Stagecoach plays, I jumped ahead to May, when the Cinco de Mayo celebration in Sycamore is held. Then there is the Memorial Day Mayors’ Breakfast and tributes in several communities to our veterans, both living and dead.

In June, the Northern Illinois Art Show on the courthouse lawn is June 2, then Genoa Days runs from June 6 to 9, including the parade. Malta Days is June 8 to 10. A new event – Balloons, Brews and Blues – will be June 23 at DeKalb’s Taylor Municipal Airport. At the end of the month, June 30 to July 1, is Sandwich Freedom Days.

July is jam packed with patriotic events – Fourth of July in Kirkland with a big parade and fireworks (July 2 to 4), DeKalb Municipal Band concert and fireworks at Hopkins Park on July 4, the July 4th festival in Shabbona and also fireworks at Lake Shabbona. Then there is the Waterman Tractor Show/Lions Summerfest on July 21. DeKalb has Kishwaukee Fest the week of July 22, plus the Drum Corps Tour of Champions at Bob Brigham Field on July 14. That draws drum and bugle corps fans from all over the country. I am sorry to report the Kingston Cardboard Boat Regatta at Kingston Park has been sunk by a lack of volunteers.

August is another busy month, with the Northern Illinois Steam Power Show and Threshing Bee running from Aug. 9 to 12 north of Sycamore off Plank Road (wonder which day it will rain this year), then the Ellwood House summer social Aug. 5. A fairly new event is the DeKalb County Barn Tour on Aug. 11. Then there is DeKalb Corn Fest, Aug. 24 to 26 downtown, and Genoa Pioneer Day, Aug. 26.

September is full of interesting events, despite the start of school. The blockbuster is the Sandwich Fair from Sept. 5 to 9 (always rains one day), then the Maple Park Funfest from Sept. 1 to 3, DeKalb Kite Fest on NIU’s North 40 on Sept. 9. Also, this month, Jonamac Orchard begins its fall schedule of tours with a corn maze, pumpkins and cider, among others treats.

October has one of the biggest draws of the year with the Sycamore Pumpkin Festival from Oct. 25 to 29 (expect rain one day), but before that is the Somonauk Hometown Harvest on Oct. 13, followed by the Cortland Fall Festival and Parade on Oct. 14. NIU homecoming weekend will be determined after March 1.

November begins the holiday rush, but also some fine music and entertainment at local venues. The Ellwood House begins its holiday tours of the 19th century mansion, and then an open house Dec. 1 to 3. If you’d like to see 40 themed, decorated trees, the Oak Crest Christmas Tree Walk is Dec. 9.

There are many more things to do that month, but I must stop here. This county has so much to offer that no one should be bored. Tell that to the Chicago Tribune!

• Barry Schrader can be reached at P.O. Box 851, DeKalb, IL 60115, or somewhere in the iCloud at His past columns can be perused at

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