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39 annual art of illinois

Looking for a way to taste some of the best of Illinois wine without spending a weekend driving all over the state?

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association (IGGVA), Downtown Springfield Inc. (DSI), and the Old State Capitol Foundation are teaming up again to offer the third annual Art of Illinois Wine Festival from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, May 21 and noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, May 22 in Downtown Springfield.

Featuring around 20 Illinois wineries, the event is open to anyone 21 years of age or older and will be held at the southwest corner of Fifth and Jefferson Streets in downtown Springfield (map below).

Admission is $10 (and weekend passes now available for $15), which includes a wine glass and five sampling tickets. Wine may also be purchased by the glass, bottle and case.  Tickets can be purchased at the gate or on the Downtown Springfied, Inc. website.

And if the wine alone isn’t enough to bring you for a visit, the festival is situated right next to the Old Capitol Art Fair.  Almost 50 years old, it’s one of the most popular, juried art fairs in the country, which was, “originally developed to contribute to the community’s cultural, social, and economic growth, the Fair has become an acknowledged success and a model for fairs in other cities.”

Some of the wineries that will be on hand include Prairie State Winery (Genoa),Pheasant Hollow Winery (Whittington), Shawnee Winery (Vienna) and Baxters Winery (Nauvoo).  You can get the whole list from the Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association website, or from the event website on Facebook.

You can let Amtrak do the driving if you’re on the Chicago-St. Louis corridor, and if you want to spend the night, there are four hotels within walking distance of the festival site.

Festival tickets can be purchased online from the Eventbrite website: 

-Scott Troehler
Twitter: @Scott217

To learn more about Scott, check out his bio.


More info:

Art of Illinois Wine event page on Facebook:

Downtown Springfield, Inc. (DSI) on Facebook:

Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association

Old State Capitol Foundation

Old Capitol Art Fair

Getting there:


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40 william shakespeare

A:   They both held their countries together in a time of war, and both were great orators.

Ok so that maybe somewhate odd, however I did find this information on the internet.  The reason for all this speak is that Saturday, April 23th, Shakespeare’s 447th Birthday, has been proclaimed by Govrnor Pat Quinn to be Talk Like Shakespeare Day in the State of Illinois – “a day on which all citizens are encouraged to express their inner thespian, incorporating Shakespearean lines into everyday conversation.” It has become an international phenomenon, with its own website.  If you hear someone speaking like Shakespeare on Saturday, you will know why.

This year Chicago Shakespeare’s “Where’s William?” contest will connect Shakespeare fans all over the world. Anyone can participate and the rules are simple. Download and construct your own personal Shakespeare mask, take a picture of yourself as the Bard and be entered to win an iPad! Click here to read more about the contest.

Read Illinois Governor Pat Quinn’s official proclamation for 2011

  Download the Shakespeare Mask here

 So there you have it, Illinois is connected to William Shakespeare by:

1)     William Shakespeare and Abraham Lincoln’s had similar character traits

2)       Governor Quinn proclaiming April 23rd Talk Like a Shakespeare Day in  the State of Illinois

3)      Chicago Shakespeare Theatre

Chicago Shakespeare Theater at Navy Pier offers a broad spectrum of theatrical experiences year-round, engaging and entertaining audiences from all walks of life and from around the world. 

Below are some tips how to talk like Shakespeare! provided by Chicago Shakespeare Theatre.

  Download the printable poster

1. Instead of you, say thou or thee (and instead of y’all, say ye.)

2. Rhymed couplets are all the rage.

3. Men are Sirrah, ladies are Mistress, and your friends are all called Cousin.

4. Instead of cursing, try calling your tormenters jackanapes or canker-blossoms or poisonous bunch-back’d toads.

5. Don’t waste time saying “it,” just use the letter “t” (‘tis, t’will, I’ll do’t).

6. Verse for lovers, prose for ruffians, songs for clowns.

7. When in doubt, add the letters “eth” to the end of verbs (he runneth, he trippeth, he falleth).

8 . To add weight to your opinions, try starting them with methinks, mayhaps, in sooth or wherefore.

9 . When wooing ladies: try comparing her to a summer’s day. If that fails, say “Get thee to a nunnery!”

10. When wooing lads: try dressing up like a man. If that fails, throw him in the Tower, banish his friends and claim the throne.

Methinks thee cousins tis talks of Shakespeare!



41 birds of a feather

Bird Banding Demonstration with a Gold Finch

You may not even know what a dickcissel or loggerhead shrike is, but you’ll get a chance to see them this month on a spring drive to one of the most unusual  places in the Midwest.

The Cache River Nature Fest will be held Sat. April 30 at the bottom tip of the state where the confluence of two of the nation’s great rivers, the Mississippi and Ohio, has created an area that will remind you of a Louisiana swamp, minus the gators.

The Cache River meanders through the flat, wet bottomland amid a forest of giant cypress and tupelo gum trees. There will be hikes, floats and other programs to get you out into the wilds to see the creatures that live there.    “It’s a unique place within the state of Illinois, and it’s been named a wetland of international importance,” said Liz Jones, assistant manager of the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge. “We get species from the north, south, east and west. That doesn’t happen everywhere. It’s a very special place.”
The wildlife refuge and the Illinois Department of Natural Resources are the largest landowners in the watershed of the Cache River, with 36,000 acres acquired, about half of the goal of protecting some 60,000 acres.

The serious fun begins at 12:01 a.m. Saturday when teams of hard-core birders head out for the Birding Blitz, a competition among teams for the highest tally of birds identified by sight or song during a 24-hour period. The team members raise pledges for each bird counted, with the money going to wetland restoration.    “It’s usually about a buck a bird; some folks pledge more,” Jones said. “Some of these people are birding gurus who will get 150 species or more..”

The Cache River bottoms is an oasis for birds using the Mississippi River Flyway. Some rest and feed and move on, some stay and nest. The diversity of habitat — cypress swamps, upland forests, grasslands and big rivers — draws a diversity of birds, everything from ducks and geese, to bald eagles and dickcissels, a stocky bird like a meadowlark that is normally found on the farmlands of the Great Plains.

If you don’t want to search for birds, the festival has a number of other programs. You can take a hike to Heron Pond,  paddle a canoe through the swamp, learn how to landscape your yard to draw hummingbirds and other wildlife or get a bird or insect tattoo, the short-lived kind. Everything is free.

“The Cache River canoe tours are always a big hit, getting people out into the swamp,” Jones said. “Buttonland Swamp is a National Natural Landmark and not only because it has the state champion bald cypress. It’s a true southern swamp.

“There’s a number of birding hikes including one to Heron Pond, the jewel of the Cache. It has a boardwalk that goes out into the swamp to see trees somewhere between 300 to 700 years old. You really get a sense of what the Cache used to be, and what we’re trying to restore it to.”

To contact the Cypress Creek National Wildlife Refuge office, call 1-618-634-2231, or visit . To find out about lodging in the area, call the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau at 1-800-248-4373, or visit



42 earth week

This week is Earth Week, so here are some ways you can get outdoors and celebrate your planet!  You can plant a garden for farm to table meals or flowers to enjoy their beauty.  Below are a few places to help get you started; some offer classes to help inspire you.  I have picked three locations so you can find some thing near your home town. 

Chicagoland Area –

Morton Arboretum

4100 Illinois Route 53

Lisle, IL 60532


Date: Sunday, April 17, 2011

Time: 2:00PM to 3:00PM

Where:  Visitor Center Building

Fees: Registration is open until start of the event. Sign up to reserve your spot. Normal admission fees apply.  $5 for members / $6 for non-members
Sign up: Online
Call 630-719-2468, or In person at the, Visitor Center Monday-Friday; 8 a.m.-4 p.m.

Explore Gardening at the Morton Arboretum

Grab your walking shoes and spend an hour in the Arboretum’s gardens and collections with plant and garden experts. Each program will start with a timely, seasonal topic related to plant selection and garden design and will include opportunities for questions.
Note: Held outdoors. Please dress for the weather.
Registration: Open now until the start of the event. Register early to reserve your spot. Normal admission fees apply.
Recommended ages: 16 years old and up

Central Illinois –

Lincoln Memorial Garden & Nature Center

2301 East Lake Drive
Springfield, Illinois 62712-8908


Date: Saturday, April 16

Time: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Where: Garden Center


When spring wildflowers begin peeping out of the woods, photographers who use “point-and-shoot” digital cameras are invited to gather at the Garden for a photography workshop from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, April 16th. Dick Adorjan will help sharpen your photographic skills and inspire you to have more fun with your photography. He will trade tips with other shutterbugs, using the colorful Garden trails as a living laboratory of native flora and fauna.  

 Southern Illinois –

Trail of Tears-Mid- America

Morel Mushroom Hunt Festival

Trail of Tears Lodge & Resort
1575 Fair City Road
Jonesboro, Illinois 62037


Date:  Friday, April 15-17, 2011

Hunters:  Check in 8:55 a.m.; Return to Registration by 1 p.m.
Where: Trail of Tears Lodge & Resort
           1575 Fair City Road
           Jonesboro, Illinois 62037

Fees:  Hunt fees $15

          Cook Off: $10 Entry fee per Dish    

          Dinner at Lodge based on Menu pricing    

Spring is in the air and Trail of Tears Lodge & Resort is ready to welcome the season for mushrooms!  The event will feature a mushroom auction and cook off contest a competitive morel hunt in where the winner will receive a trophy.  If you’re not up for hunting for you dinner you can stop the lodge and pick a meal from their extensive morel mushroom menu.  There will be entertainment to follow throughout the evening. For more information, call 1-800-248-4373.  

Additional Details at

 However you decide to celebrate Earth Week, be sure to send us some photos to post on our Flicker page.  Send photos to .

I look forward to hearing and seeing how you celebrate Earth Week!

Ciao –