Posted by Cheryl Nichols, Contributor and Photographer for Nats News Network

There are several fun events scheduled for this weekend for the four game series showdown with the Chicago Cubs. If you cannot make it to the park, take advantage of the free activities in town to meet some of the Nationals players.

"Get Your Red On" this weekend - During this series the Nats will be wearing the alternate red uniforms to help celebrate the renewed spirit of the Get Your Red On campaign. The club is also encouraging fans to wear red for these games in order to show continued support and allegiance to the team.

The Washington Nationals will host the Fourth Annual Christmas in July Toy Drive Friday, July 17 through Sunday, July 19, benefiting the U.S. Marine Corps Reserve Toys for Tots Program. Volunteers from the U.S. Marines and the Nationals will be present at the Nationals Park Center Field Gates to accept donations of new, unwrapped toys from gate opening through the end of the fourth inning. The toys collected will be distributed to needy families in the Washington, DC Metropolitan Region. Nationals fans donated more than 2,000 toys and $19,000 in 2008.

Washington Nationals Pitcher John Lannan will visit with fans and pet-lovers at the Alexandria Petco on Saturday, July 18 from 10:00am – noon. John will sign autographs and pose for photos with fans and their pets during the appearance. Drafted by the Nationals in 2005, John is in his second full season in the team’s Starting Rotation and holds a 6-6 record at the halfway point of 2009 with an ERA of 3.70. John grew up surrounded by rescued animals and is currently the owner of a French bulldog-beagle mix named Bailey. The Washington Humane Society will also be in attendance with their mobile adoption unit for those looking for a new pet in their life. Petco is located at 6612 Richmond Highway in Alexandria, VA.

The Washington Nationals will participate in Baseball Family Day at the National Portrait Gallery for the third consecutive year on Saturday, July 18. Nationals Catcher Josh Bard and Outfielder Josh Willingham will answer questions and pose for pictures with the children in attendance from 11:30am – 1:00pm. The event will feature baseball-themed games, arts and crafts, and music. Guests may also enter to win autographed baseballs from Bard and Willingham. Also meet author Fred Bowen and have him sign a copy of one of his books about baseball. The National Portrait Gallery is located at 9th and G Streets, NW, Washington, DC.

Are you a fan of cooking shows? The Nats and Levy Restaurants team up with Food Network to bring the first-ever Grill-Off to Nationals Park on Sunday, July 19. Phil Bucco, Levy Restaurant's chef at Nationals Park, will compete with Teddy Folkman, Executive Chef and co-owner of Granville Moore's Gastropub. Folkman was a Next Food Network Star finalist this season. He will be joined by fellow finalist Eddie Gilbert, who will emcee the event. You can catch the Grill Off at the Nats Family Fun Area prior to Sunday's game against the Cubs. Get there early and you may be selected to be a guest judge! The competition begins at noon with plates to be judged at 1:00 p.m. First pitch is scheduled for 1:35 p.m. Click here for more information.

The Washington Nationals will continue their monthly health initiatives campaign with ALS (Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis/Lou Gehrig's Disease) and MS (Multiple Sclerosis) Month. The team has partnered with the ALS Association and MS Society for the month of July to raise awareness and funds for research, and ultimately a cure. Click here for more information.