Iowa National Guard, 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment, Company C

Members of Charlie Company of the Iowa National Guard's 1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment pose for a photo at the Iowa Falls armory on Thursday, May 28, 2020.

Another weekend is upon us, and while COVID-19 is still present in Iowa, most restaurants, shops, bars, churches and other establishments have permission to be open. Still, public health officials advise you to be safe - stay home if you're ill. Limit your outings if you're over age 65, or have an underlying health condition. If you do go out, social distance by staying six feet apart from other people. If you can't social distance, wear a face covering. Cover your coughs and sneezes and wash your hands frequently. For those who are able and feel comfortable leaving their home, we've rounded up five ideas for things to do this weekend without leaving Hardin County.

Sign up to read this summer

Students haven't been in school for weeks, but this week marks the end of the school year for most students in Iowa. That means it's summer. And summer brings local libraries' summer reading programs. This year's programs will look very different due to COVID-19, but most area libraries are still offering some kind of programming for kids of all ages. Call your library for more information, or peruse their Facebook pages: AckleyAlden; Eldora; Hubbard; Iowa Falls; Radcliffe; Steamboat Rock.

Pedal on gravel . . . or cheer on the bikers

The Sterile Iowan bike ride - a gravel bicycle ride that offers 100-, 200-, 300- and 400-mile routes, kicks off today in Alden. The route takes bicyclists to Dows and Popejoy and back through Iowa Falls. It'll also pass Eagle City, Owasa, Steamboat Rock and Eldora. If you're not interested in riding, consider cheering on the bikers. Even if you have no interest, be aware that there will be bicyclists out on gravel roads in the area this weekend. Give them some space. Find more information about the Sterile Iowan in this sports story, or on the event's Facebook page.

Show support for departing soldiers

The 99 soldiers in the Iowa Falls-based Charlie Company of the Iowa National Guard's Ironman Battalion (1st Battalion, 133rd Infantry Regiment) will leave Saturday for a one-year deployment. While the sendoff ceremony is closed to prevent the spread of COVID-19, the public is invited to line the streets to show their support as the soldiers depart on two buses. The route will begin at the armory on Georgetown Road in Iowa Falls at approximately 4 p.m., and head east on Washington Avenue before turning south on Oak Street. The public is asked to maintain social distance from each other. Find more information about the deployment here, and see photos of the soldiers' Thursday training run through Iowa Falls here.

Explore the natural world around you

We frequently encourage readers to get outside and use city trails and county parks, but what exactly is it that you're seeing when you're there? The staff at Calkins Nature Area have kept busy during COVID-19 shutdowns by posting a series of videos showing and explaining about the wildflowers, aquatic life, birds and other parts of nature that can be found in Hardin County. Watch some of those videos on the Calkins Facebook page, or on its YouTube channel, and then get outside to explore.

Catch a midnight baseball game

Hardin County American Legion Baseball will host a Midnight Madness game on Sunday night - err, Monday morning - at 12:01 a.m. The event will feature 12U Minutemen vs. 13U Minutemen in a six-inning game. It will be played at the city diamond in Eldora (on 15th Street). Parents and spectators are asked to park their vehicles around the field and either stay in the vehicle or set chairs next to it. There will be no restrooms or concessions available.

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