Metro-East News

5 things to do: Nature vs. robots vs. beer

It’s not nature vs. nurture this weekend; it’s nature vs. robots vs. beer.

What will you do?

Plant sale

They shouldn’t check the color of your thumb at the greenhouse door, but beware of the plant-crazed folks in the area who have long known of this sale.

Metro-east gardeners know the Southwestern Illinois College’s Horticulture Program’s annual sale will be packed with tropical, perennial and annual flowers, as well as a few water flowers.

The sale started Friday and continues on Saturday and Sunday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the greenhouses on SWIC’s Belleville campus, 2500 Carlyle Ave.

BONUS: The Horticulture Club is raffling off a chance for 20 hours of their landscape labor — your plants, your yard, their sweat and their toil — for $5 a ticket or $20 for five tickets.


“I’m not a student. But I am a major science enthusiast.” Who doesn’t love a good robot battle, Big Hero Six? The best of the best — in real life, not animation — are in St. Louis on Saturday at a number of venues:

▪  FIRST Robotics Competition is at the Edward Jones Dome. This is where high school students compete with 120-pound robots that they have designed, programmed and built.

▪  FIRST LEGO League is at America’s Center. More than 100 teams, whose members are ages 9 to 16, complete missions with their LEGO MINDSTORMS-based robots.

▪  The FIRST Tech Challenge is packed at Union Station with more than 120 teams of middle and high school students with robots they have designed, programmed and built

Go to for a complete schedule and more information about the robot wars — it’s all free and open to the public, too. Can’t make it? The site promises live video.

From high above

Fact of the day: It takes 90 days for a drop of water to go from the top of the Mississippi River to the Gulf of Mexico.

There’s even more to learn at the first-ever “From Earth Day to Arbor Day” event from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at The Tower, 435 Confluence Tower Dr. in Hartford. It all kicks off with a book signing and multimedia presentation by Gayle Harper, author of “Roadtrip with a Raindrop.”

Local beekeeper Jim Cranmer will be there to talk about how bees are important to plant life, and to give you tips on how to start your own hive. The Mustard Seed Peace Project, the Legendary Mustang Sanctuary and the Southwest Illinois Chapter of Wild Ones will be there as well.

Children’s activities include building bird feeders and learning how seeds grow. The tower will be open for self-guided tours.

The event is free, but the usual charge of $4 for adults, $3 for seniors, veterans and active military, $2 for children 12 and and free for children under 2 does apply.


More than 30 craft beers are promised for the Third Annual Spring Beer Fest from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday at the Edwardsville City Park, 112 S. Buchanan. The fun benefits the City of Edwardsville’s project called A Better Place to Play. Local food vendors include 1818 Chophouse and Chava’s Mexican Restaurant. Live music will be performed by Dana Anderson and Shamus McFerson. Admission is free.

More beer!

Belleville also has a hoppy fest planned for Saturday. The Belleville Ale Fest kicks off at noon for VIPs and 1 p.m. for everyone else; it wraps up at 5 p.m. Saturday. The $10 (designated driver), $25 and $50 (VIP) ticket proceeds go to The Greater Belleville Chamber of Commerce. They’ll have everything from the palest ales to the darkest stouts with names such as Civil Life Angel and the Sword, New Holland Dragons Milk Cask and Rogue Sriracha Stout. Live music by Code 2.

Once you wash off the dirt and shake off any hangover, contact reporter Mary Cooley at or 618-239-2535. Follow her on Twitter: @MaryCooleyBND.