Whether or not you celebrate Easter, this weekend is an excellent time to hunt down free treats or share your bounty with neighbors in need. Here are a few ways to accomplish both of these goals.
Brunching and dining
The State Street corner of Capitol Square will morph into a giant, free picnic this Saturday at noon, when volunteers dish up vegan sloppy joes and potato salad. It's all part of the Madison Meat Out, an event the Farm Animal Rights Movement and Alliance for Animals host to highlight how meatless meals can help reduce greenhouse-gas emissions and fossil-fuel use.
The food at a Saturday evening spring potluck hosted by Red Dragon TV comes with a side of music, in the form of open-mic performances. There's no admission fee, except for a homemade dish to pass, but the organizers will be taking donations to help defray the space's $1,500 debt.
On Sunday, the Goodman Community Center will roll out an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event's not free unless you're younger than 3 years old, but proceeds go toward valuable Goodman Center programs such as parenting classes, recreational activities and Ironworks Cafe's job-training program.
If you're craving an even fancier meal, consider reserving a spot at Merchant for an Easter night "Local Harvest" dinner presented by REAP Food Group. Attendees can support sustainable agriculture by savoring a three-course meal of local foods, with ingredients from JenEhr Family Farm and Equinox Community Farms. Wine and cocktail pairings are available.
On Sunday at the UW Arboretum, nature lovers can experience one of springtime's finest freebies: the return of birds that have been wintering in the tropics. The birdwatching hike begins at the visitor center at 1 p.m.
An Easter egg hunt
There are loads of free events for kids this weekend, but, believe it or not, some of the best prizes go to grown-ups. The Majestic Theatre will host an egg hunt on Sunday at 7 p.m., an hour before its show featuring Thao & the Get Down Stay Down and another concert at the Frequency with Sky Ferreira, How to Dress Well and High Highs. While candy and stickers will fill many of the eggs at the children's events, 30 of the Majestic's eggs will contain tickets to upcoming shows at the venue. In other words, a free pass to see Cloud Cult, Lucero or AraabMUZIK could be in your future. The hunt is also a chance to explore the nooks and crannies of the 106-year-old theater.