The Great Kankakee River-Gotta Love It.
I have lived in the Kankakee River Valley for over 50 years. Kankakee,IL is the county capitol for Kankakee County. Kankakee was an Indian name for the local tribes. The French fur traders discovered the great land surrounding the Kankakee River in the 1800's. I have spent time in numerous states around the country camping with BoyScouts. I was a Scoutmaster for over 9 years and a member of the local Troop 324 for nearly 20 years. I have taken pontoon rides, speedboat trips and rafting trips. But nothing compares to taking a trip down a river in a canoe, and I have logged hundreds of miles in my canoe on the Kankakee River. There are many rivers in Illinois and all throughout the midwest. Many of them are dirty, trash filled, with speed boats zipping all over. Not exactly prime canoeing type of a river. There are sections of the Kankakee River made for the speed boat crowd, but the vast majority of the river is not made for boats with propellers. They are made for canoes. Slowly gliding down the river with a gentle breeze washing over you and the sounds of the paddle pulling us forward through the water. The water in the Kankakee River is the cleanest in the state of Illinois. There have been numerous state record fish caught in the Kankakee River. While it will never compare to a Canadian or Minnesota lake for cleanliness, the beauty and views that can be found right in our backyard are just as amazing.
Several years ago, the downtown Kankakee started a new event for the middle of the summer. If you are into music, then you won't want to miss the Merchant Street Music Festival, or MSMF. 2 days in July of music from local, regional and nationally known bands. Mix in a 50+ booth art stroll with local artists selling paintings, ceramics, clothing, polished rocks, jewelry and much more along with a food court and wine and beer tent at each end of the entire location and you have the best regional music fest going. There are 3 stages of music acts. Main stage, depot stage and hilltop stage. The depot stage is the coolest as the stage is set up inside the old Illinois Central railroad Kankakee train depot. If you remember the words of the Arlo Guthrie song "City of New Orleans", the line goes like this.....all along the southbound IC, the train pulls out of Kankakee. It's a classic and the fest has become a real classic as well in just a few short years.
Our weather is midwest normal, and by that I mean it can be cold and snowy one day in March, and 65 degrees and short sleeves the next day. Hot summers and cold frigid winters mixed around spectacular spring and fall seasons make it perfect for everyone that's not afraid of cold and can handle the heat. I think it makes you a better person, right?
So the next time you find yourself about an hour south of Chicago on Interstate 57, stop into Kankakee and see what else we have going for us, and you won't be sorry.
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