Special Events

Experience McHenry County Conservation District by attending one of our upcoming special events! Click the months below to reveal the events. This page is updated quarterly. 

Due to ongoing concerns with Coivd-19 our larger special events are cancelled, but we still offer plenty of special things to do this summer.

In addition to these special events, we also offer other seasonal programs. 

Register for a Program



Special Events

Cache Your Way Across McHenry County
Geo-Series: ongoing 
This GeoSeries is specifically designed to turn your next staycation, day trip or geocaching expedition into an extraordinary adventure. Cache Your Way Across McHenry County GeoSeries highlights 15 of the best District spots where gamers will be led along unique trails, under bridges, to historic sites, or in the middle of a majestic oak woodland. At each stop, cachers will be introduced to a variety of interesting facts, fun tidbits, stories, quizzes and a question to answer in your GeoSeries Passport. Those who complete all 15 caches will earn the District’s newest geocoin. A couple of the caches have travel bugs. Please move these bugs along and do not keep them; you will get your own to keep when you successfully complete the tour! Once you complete all the caches, bring your passport to one of our visitor centers to claim a coin; or e-mail a copy to smichael@mccdistrict.org

Download passport and program information.

Challenge 2020: Aug. 2 through Nov. 30
Complete your sheet (available July 31) and claim your 2020 GeoCoin. This year’s theme is mammalsAll caches will be live on geocaching.com. Note: This is a separate program from the Geo-Series above. There are a limited number of coins—first-come, first-served; one coin per household.

Lost Valley Nature Detectives
Self-guided Explorations
It’s a beautiful day for hiking and learning about the plants and wildlife of McHenry County! Due to Covid-19 the Lost Valley Visitor Center will be closed until further notice, but each month we will post links to virtual Nature Detectives activities and videos filled with things you can do from home! 

Monthly Exploration Topics:

May—Frogs
Learn about the amazing life cycle of the incredible amphibian the frog. Download the ID sheet and take time to see if you can identify all of the different frogs and toads in the McHenry County area. After you master identifying the frogs, listen to what each one sounds like here. Then, watch a video tutorial on how to make your own leaping frog craft at home.

June—Turtles
Learn about the cool features of turtles with a trivia game and then watch a video about what to do if you see a turtle crossing the road. Finish your exploration with a fun turtle craft!

July—Backyard Birds
Learn how to identify some of the common birds that may live right in your own backyard.  Make a bird feeder to help attract birds to your yard so you can get a better look. Then go outside and compete in your very own Bird Olympics!

August—Insects
Check out some cool facts about what makes insects so incredible and see if you can pick out the true insects among the look-a-likes. Learn how to make your own beautiful butterfly with just a few supplies. Go explore what insects are around your home!

Tapping Into Nature: Help us tap the sugar maples!
Sunday, March 1, 9–10:30 a.m.
Coral Woods, Shelter, Marengo
Adults & Families, Ages 10+. Register by 2/28.

The Festival of the Sugar Maples is an annual event that teaches historical and current methods of sap collection and maple syrup making. Each year maple trees are carefully selected and tapped by Conservation District staff for this event that draws over 1,500 visitors. This program is a unique opportunity for the public to assist in the tree tapping process. Over a light continental breakfast, staff will provide a short lesson on tree selection, how to correctly place a tap in a tree, and the proper equipment used to complete the process. Participants will then tap the trees for the public event. Dress for the weather.

CANCELLED (3/14-15) Festival of the Sugar Maples 
Two Weekends! Free.
March 7 & 8 and 14 & 15 • 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Tours leave every 15 min.
Coral Woods Conservation Area, 7400 Somerset, Marengo

Hear how maple syrup was made hundreds of years ago…
Discover how maple trees produce sap each spring…
Learn how sap is collected from maple trees…
See how maple syrup is made at the evaporator house!

Sponsored by Suburban Propane.

Stop by before or after the event…
Lion’s Club Pancake Breakfast
Sundays: March 8 & 15, 7�€…a.m. – Noon
$3 Child/$6 Adult
Union Fire Protection Dist. 6606 Main Street, Union

CANCELLED Star Party
Hosted by Northwest Suburban Astronomers

Saturday, April 17, 7–10 p.m.
Marengo Ridge, Shelter #2 parking lot, Marengo

Spend an evening viewing stars, nebulae, galaxies, and even a planet or two with the Northwest Suburban Astronomers and their telescopes. For those considering the purchase of a telescope, star parties are great opportunities to check out what telescopes and binoculars can really do. Dress for a chilly evening and bring a flashlight covered with red plastic or cellophane (red light preserves your night vision). Arrive by 7:15 pm or come early and hike the trails. You are welcome to bring your own telescope or binoculars. In the event of inclement weather the event backup date is April 18. Visit www.nsaclub.org for info.

CANCELLED Living History Open House: Civil War Sons
Sunday, April 19, 12–4 p.m.
Powers-Walker House Historic Landmark, Glacial Park
No registration required. Drop in any time during the open hours.

Visit this 1854 Greek Revival restored house and learn more about the resident families that called this area home. April’s Open House centers around the Powers family and their contribution to the Civil War since two of their sons served the union. Volunteers in historical attire are available to answer your questions.

CANCELLED Earth Day Celebration 2020
Presented by the Conservation District and Environmental Defenders of McHenry County
Saturday, April 18, 11:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
Prairieview Education Center, Crystal Lake
The event is held both indoors and out and will go on rain or shine!

Help celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Earth Day! Join us for Environmental Exhibitors, Games & Crafts, Live Music, Puppet Show, Guided Nature Hikes, Habitat Restoration Project!

Schedule of Events:
Musical Guest: Georgia Rae Family Band, Two family-friendly performances! 12:30 p.m. & 2:00 p.m.
Guided Hikes – 11:30 a.m. & 2:45 p.m.
Food Trucks – 11:30 a.m. – 3:30 p.m.: AJz Kettlecorn Company, Perk N’ Pickle, Or bring your own “No waste” picnic lunch!
Stewardship Project, ongoing

Household Recycling Drop Off: A variety of items accepted for recycling including: electronics, CDs/DVDs/cassettes, fiber/textiles/shoes, batteries, fluorescent tubes and polystyrene foam. Check back closer to the event for a more complete list of accepted items and any associated fees.

CANCELLED Art Exhibit: Hidden in Plain Sight
May 2–June 7
Lost Valley Visitor Center, Glacial Park
Artist Reception: CANCELLED Sunday, May 3, 2–5 p.m. 
Come meet the artist and hear how she discovered her inspiration, and be inspired yourself to journey down the trails of a nearby Conservation District site. If weather permits Janet will have a plein air setup and share about the process.

Janet Harlow of Harvard presents paintings inspired while hiking in McHenry County Conservation District sites. For over the past 20 year she has explored and discovered the beauty of these protected lands. During rain, shine and snow she has witnessed flamboyant beauty and quiet change. Specifically at Rush Creek Conservation Area, the trails became very important to her, adding solace and beauty to her day as she enjoyed many walks there. Her experiences at Rush Creek first inspired poetry, but in the last few years, Janet has been working to capture the poetry of the landscape in oil and acrylic paint. Included in the display are plein air paintings done on location at the various Conservation District locations and studio work created from images. She and her husband enjoy exploring many Conservation District sites and the treasures of these unique places, hidden in plain sight is expressed in her paintings.

CANCELLED Migratory Bird Days!
Family Fun for All Ages — Now three days of birding fun!… May 9, 10 & 17
Brought to you by: USFWS, Mc Co Audubon, IDNR, FOHNWR. Friends of Volo Bog. MCCD

Bird Banding Stations
U.S. Fish and Wildlife biologists will be netting birds, recording data, and placing bands on their legs. This is your chance to see our migratory songbirds up close!
Saturday, May 9 — 8:00–10:30 a.m., Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 & Harts Rd., Ringwood, IL
Sunday, May 10 — 8:00–10:30 a.m., Hackmatack NWR Turner tract, N541 County Hwy H, Genoa City, WI

Bird Walk with John James Audubon
Take a bird walk with expert interpreter and storyteller Brian Fox Ellis as John James Audubon himself! Watch for birds while learning more about one of the nation’s pioneer birdwatchers.
Saturday, May 9 • 8:00–9:30 a.m., Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 & Harts Rd., Ringwood, IL

Activity Stations & Bird Passports 
Get your passport stamped as you participate in over 20 games and activities! More stamps = more prizes, including our ever-popular Audubon plush bird that sings its song when squeezed! Door prizes include binoculars, photo prints, and more!
Saturday, May 9 • 8:00 a.m.–Noon, Lost Valley Visitor Center in Glacial Park, Route 31 & Harts Rd., Ringwood, IL
Sunday, May 17 • Noon–4:00 p.m., Volo Bog State Natural Area, 28478 W Brandenburg Rd., Ingleside, IL

CANCELLED Bird Tales: Stories and Songs from Many Cultures 
Special Guest Storyteller Brian “Fox” Ellis
Saturday, May 9, 1–2 p.m.
Lost Valley Visitor Center, Savanna Room, Glacial Park, Ringwood
All Ages. Register by 5/7.

This engaging presentation takes listeners on a journey along the migratory flyways of the birds. Stories include an assortment of Native American, African, European and Asian folklore. Are you planning on attending the World Migratory Bird Day event in the morning? Why not have a delicious lunch delivered for you to enjoy in beautiful Glacial Park before this afternoon performance! Lunches are $10.00 per person and we’ll be ordering from Panera Bread. Select the lunch option when registering for the program. We’ll contact you for your order after you have registered.

Living History Open House: Just Who is Samuel Walker?
Sunday, May 17, 12–4 p.m.
Powers-Walker House Historic Landmark, Glacial Park
No registration required. Drop in any time during the open hour

Visit this 1854 Greek Revival restored house and learn more about the resident families that called this area home. May’s open house features Samuel Walker, a prominent and influential man who owned the house in the late 1800s. Volunteers in historical attire are available to answer your questions.