Twenty-five years have passed since the filming of the iconic “Groundhog Day” movie took place in Woodstock.
The annual Groundhog Days festivities, which began in 1995, will take place in and around the Square. They will kick off Wednesday, Feb. 1, with the Awakening of the Groundhog at 6 p.m. at the Opera House. The events will run through Sunday, Feb. 5, and include a wide variety of activities suitable for all ages.
The public can play a round of Groundhog Day Trivia at Stage Left Cafe. Admission is free and the contest will start at 6:15 p.m. Feb. 1. Also taking place from 6 to 9 p.m. will be Woodstock Willie Beer Tasting Party at the Waverly Ballroom. Featuring Goose Island beers and appetizers, the tasting also will offer a silent auction and musical guest PB&J. Proceeds will benefit the Child Advocacy Center.
Classic Cinemas Woodstock Theatre will show “Groundhog Day” to audiences free of charge at 10 a.m. Thursday, Saturday and Sunday, Feb. 2, 4 and 5.
The most attended event of the week is the prognostication. Musical guest Corky Siegel will perform for early risers starting at 6:45 a.m. Thursday, Feb. 2, at the Park in the Square. At 7 a.m., Woodstock Willie will make his appearance and deliver his furry wisdom on how many weeks of winter to expect. The prognostication is free, and also will feature polka music from Die Musikmeisters. After the news is delivered from Willie, there will be a Drink to World Peace at the Public House at 7:20 a.m. and the official Groundhog Day breakfast at Woodstock Moose Lodge. Tickets for the breakfast are $15 and include a chance to grab a selfie with Willie.
Walking tours of the filming sites in and around the Square will take place throughout the week led by Bob Hudgins. Hudgins was the location manager for the film and has returned to Woodstock each year to lead the tour and share behind-the-scenes stories. Admission is free. Tours will leave from the Moose Lodge at 9 a.m. Feb. 2 and from the Opera House at 1:30 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4, and 12:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 5. Hudgins also will present “The Making of ‘Groundhog Day’, Again and Again” at 3 p.m. Feb. 4 at the Opera House, where he will share more memories and tales from his time spent as location manager. This year marks the last year Hudgins will be in attendance for Groundhog Days.
Groundhog Day Dinner and Dance at Woodstock Moose Lodge will be at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 3. The menu is all new this year and will include a roast beef carving station. Musical guest Hookset will play modern and classic rock. Tickets are $15 and available at the door. After dinner and beginning at 8 p.m., admission will drop to $5.
Emmy-winning storyteller Jim May, who is the co-founder of the Illinois Storytelling festival, will share stories that celebrate the groundhog’s arrival at Home State Bank at 10 a.m. Feb. 4. Admission is free.
For groundhog fans seeking more physical activity, bowling and bags will be part of Saturday’s lineup. Wayne’s Lanes, which was featured in the movie, will offer bowling from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for $15, which includes two games, shoe rental, pizza and drink. Proceeds benefit the co-op Woodstock High School/Woodstock North High School bowling teams. The Rotary Club of Woodstock will host a bags tournament beginning at 1 p.m. (check-in starts at noon) at Ortmann’s Red Iron Tavern. Two-person teams can preregister for $30 or register the day of for $40. The top three teams will take home a cash prize. Proceeds benefit the Christmas Clearing House.
The chili cook-off returns this year. Contestants will prep and cook their chili at Woodstock North High School beginning at 8 a.m. Feb. 4, and the public tasting and judging will take place beginning at noon at the Woodstock Moose Lodge. Entry fees are $25, and prizes will be awarded for first and second place, as well as People’s Choice.
Groundhog-themed Bingo will be played from 5 to 8 p.m Feb. 4 at Blue Lotus Buddhist Temple.
New to the Groundhog Days schedule for 2017 will be a Pub Crawl. The adults-only event will kick off at 6 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 4. Tickets are $20. Participating businesses will feature Groundhog Day-themed food and drink specials and prizes.
The Moose Lodge will host breakfast with Willie from 8 to 10:30 a.m. Feb. 5. Breakfast is $6, $3 for children 6 to 10, or free to anyone participating in the blood drive held the same day.
Mixin Mingle will host a Family Fun Day from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Feb. 5 complete with groundhog-themed games and crafts. Kids can win prizes and participate in activities. Money raised will benefit the Woodstock Wannabes and Cloverbuds 4-H Club.
Winding down the weekend’s events will be a free concert at the Opera House at 3 p.m. Feb. 5 presented by Woodstock Community Choir. The concert, entitled “Journeys,” is funded through a grant from Friends of the Woodstock Opera House.
Woodstock School District 200 Education Foundation will host the Groundhog Dinner/Auction Saturday, Feb. 11, at Starline Factory, 300 W. Front St., Harvard. Tickets to the event are $60 if purchased before Feb. 1, and $65 after Feb. 1. The event, themed “Blue Jeans and Black Ties,” will feature a live and silent auction, reverse raffle and award presentation.
Groundhog memorabilia and souvenirs can be purchased at Read Between the Lynes on the Square. For more details on all things Groundhog Days, visit woodstockgroundhog.org.