DOWNERS GROVE – From shopping outdoors to learning how to camp to enjoying a night out, Downers Grove families will have plenty of activities to choose from to create summer memories.
Throughout the next few months, the Downers Grove Park District, village of Downers Grove and local groups will host several fun, budget-friendly events for people of all ages to enjoy.
On May 11, the Indian Boundary YMCA of Metro Chicago kicked off its annual farmers market downtown near Main Street. The event, which takes place from 7 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturdays until October, offers customers the chance to buy locally sourced, organic fruits and vegetables and to peruse for handmade products, crafts, clothing and more.
This year’s farmers market rounds up more than 60 vendors from across the Chicago area and the Midwest. Man-Yee Lee, director of communications at the YMCA, said the market is a full showcase of community partners, and she and other staff organizers take pride in bringing resources and educational opportunities together. In addition to shopping, visitors can taste good eats, watch performances by local musicians and participate in various classes.
For Lee, what makes the farmers market so special is that the proceeds help support the YMCA and its many programs. The YMCA plays an integral part of any neighborhood, and because of a shared community-first mindset, the concept of giving back is a trademark mission.
At the Downers Grove Park District, Dawn Hartman, director of marketing and community engagement, shared a series of events fit for children, teens and adults, starting with the Family Camping for Beginnings on May 18. The three-hour lesson, which runs from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Lyman Woods Nature Center, offers participants an opportunity to learn how to set up a camp, build a fire and a tent, cook a meal and plan an excursion.
Another option for residents is the summer concert series, which kicks off May 28, the day after Memorial Day, at the Veterans Memorial Pavilion in Fishel Park.
Every Tuesday until late August, guests are welcome to an evening of free live entertainment.
From country to pop to a rendition of Billy Joel classics, there is something “for everyone no matter what your musical tastes are,” Hartman said.
At the summer concerts, children will have room to play and partake in hands-on activities, while adults can look forward to food, wine and beer from an assortment of vendors. For the full lineup and more details, visit www.dgparks.org/summer-concert-series.
New this summer is the park district’s BBQ Bolt Run/Walk on July 20 at McCollum Park sponsored by City Barbeque. With three races – 5 mile, 5K or 1 mile – this event is for the “serious racer” or anyone who wants to take a leisurely walk, Hartman said.
Children younger than age 12 are welcome to take part in the 50-meter dash, and dog owners and parents or guardians with strollers are encouraged to participate in the 1 mile.
For information or to register, visit www.bbqbolt.org.
As for the village of Downers Grove, communications director Doug Kozlowski shares his recommendation of the Independence Day Parade on July 4 and a fireworks display that follows later that evening at 75th Street and Lemont Road.
The afternoon parade, which takes place on Main and Grant streets and heads toward Warren Avenue, often involves local schools, businesses and organizations. The fireworks display is a collaborative effort between Downers Grove, Woodridge and Darien.
“Chances are if you’re from Downers Grove, you’ll know somebody who will be participating in this parade,” Kozlowski said, adding that the annual event is often a way to catch up with old friends and make new ones.