Saturday, February 2, 2019

No One Celebrates Groundhog Day Like Woodstock, IL

Groundhog Day is here and outside of Punxsutawney, PA, there's another place where this ritual is a really big deal. Woodstock, Illinois is where much of the 1993 movie Groundhog Day, starring Bill Murray was filmed. They go all out with a four-day festival dedicated to this furry rodent, his weather prediction and the movie that has become a classic and is still well-loved more than 25 years after its release.

Throughout Woodstock, there are many filming sites that are marked letting you know that they are the spots where scenes took place, including a sidewalk marker showing the scene where Murray repeatedly schleps through slushy snow. During the festival guided tours take visitors through many of those filming spots.


The Cherry Tree Inn Bed & Breakfast
On a media visit I took last year with the county's convention and visitor bureau, we got to see some of those sites - including the town square which served as Gobbler's Knob in the movie and the Public House where the toast to world peace took place. I also had the pleasure of staying at the Cherry Tree Inn Bed & Breakfast. It's the inn that was featured in the movie at 344 Fremont St. The lovely victorian home has four rooms and you wake up to a gourmet meal the next day.




This year's Groundhog Days also included an opportunity to meet Stephen Tolowsky, who played Woodstock’s favorite insurance agent, Ned Ryerson, in the movie.



The event involves a prognostication ceremony early on Groundhog Day complete with a polka band and an appearance by Woodstock Willie, the town's own weather-predicting groundhog. Even if you aren't there visiting for the Groundhog Day events, it's a lovely place to visit any time of year. The downtown square is lined with quaint shops and eateries and you'll find Bill Murray's face on a large mural just off the square. For more info on the fest, go to woodstockgroundhog.com and for more on the area to to visitmchenrycounty.com. 

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