580 Posts
13 A Classic Theater In The Heart of IL

The Orpheum theater in Hillsboro stands as a monument to the the glory days of movie theaters, where the ‘silver screen’ brought the rest of the world to small towns. This classic 19th century building has all the art deco ornamentation that made these movie houses the jewel of any town on a Saturday night.


Originally opening in 1920 the theater boasted some 780 seats in the ‘modern and attractive’ building for patrons. Over the years the theater changed owners through ups and downs, and luckily, was kept in good condition. The current owners took over in 2003, moving to Hillsboro from Iowa where they ran several theaters. Since taking over the Orpheum in Hillsboro, the Eisentraut Family has opened several other theaters in surrounding towns. Their secret…..being the best movie deal in Illinois. Just $6.00 gets you a ticket, a tub of popcorn and a drink…..$6.00…..!! Not quite 1920’s prices, but darn close. With today’s ever escalating prices this family has taken a stand to provide good quality entrainment at a price everyone can afford. The building itself is a wonderful example of 20’s Art Deco and maintains it’s original facade.


The sign above the marque proudly displays the name of the theater and above that, the original stone work carving of Orpheus, the Greek entertainer who wooed the gods, and the theater’s name sake, beckons all to come and be entertained. The original viewing room has since been divided in height to allow for two theaters in the same building, over and under. From the upper theater the original tin ceiling and ornate cornices can be seen. What wonderful ornamentation these buildings had!

The ornate upper level theater

In these days of high prices and multiplexes it’s great to see small town values can survive, and thrive, in the theater business…..and at the Orpheum the show goes on….

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-Ed Baumgarten

14 Palos Meldown Mountain Bike


Palos Meltdown Mountain Bike Race

Unofficially deemed the “Chicago World Mountain Bike Championships ” because it’s the only major mountain bike race in the Chicago metro area, the Sunday, August 22 Palos Meltdown Mountain Bike Race returns to the Cook County Forest Preserves at Bullfrog Lake/Pulaski Woods near Willow Springs (95th Street and Wolf Rd., just east of Archer Avenue).

Organized by CAMBr (Chicago Area Mountain Bikers), racing happens all day in a variety of skill levels from Novice to Expert, man and women’s categories.  Action begins at 8:00 a.m., and spectators are welcome. Over 200 people have already registered for the race, and the course is mainly singletrack, a narrow dirt trail with some obstacles such as ravines, roots, rocks and logs. The race is obviously an athletic contest, but is also a social gathering where cheering on, and sometimes heckling, racers can be a competitive event in itself!

 The annual race, which has been held since 2007, is a fundraiser for the Chicago Area Mountain bikers, which build and maintain the trails in the Palos Forest Preserves and throughout the metro area.  This year, the race is also a part of the Illinois Homegrown Race Series, a series of nine mountain bike races in various locations, which will likely draw a wider group of racers and spectators.

 The races are held in a beautiful area of the Palos Preserves, so pack a lunch and bring some friends out to watch the races and enjoy a day in the woods.

By Gina Kenny

15 And the winner is

Life Guards by Marcia Straub

On behalf of the Illinois Office of Tourism, a huge thank you to everyone who participated in our summer photo contest! We received so many beautiful (and colorful!) images it was hard to pick a winner. We can’t thank you enough for sharing your unique perspective of Illinois with us. We are delighted to announce Marcia as the winner for her photo “Boat House Way.” Congratulations, Marcia!

If you weren’t able to participate in this contest, stay tuned for details about our next photo contest.

16 The Covered Bridge on Sugar Creek

Spanning Sugar Creek, just west of Glenarm, IL is the Sugar Creek Covered Bridge. Also known as the Glenarm, or Hedley bridge, this 60 foot span is listed on the National register of historic places and is one of 5 remaining 19th century covered bridges in Illinois. Rehabilitated by IDOT in 1965 to keep it intact, this wonderful old structure was placed on a modern under-deck and embankments to keep it preserved for many years to come. The historical society of Sangamon County established ‘Pioneer Park’ adjacent to the bridge in honor of Robert Pullian, who settled there around 1817. The original bridge was constructed around 1880 using the Burr Arch design and served as a passage across Sugar Creek for what must of been countless settlers, livestock and traders for many, many years. This site is wonderfully kept and is just a mile or so off of historic Route 66. For a nice diversion when traveling the ‘Mother Road’ or heading down I-55, exit at Glenarm (Exit 83) and take the frontage road up through and past Glenarm and follow the signs. It’s beautiful country and just a short hop off the main road. A hint…the last turn isn’t marked….turn right….happy motoring!

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-Ed Baumgarten

17 And the list goes on

During the concert Photo courtesy of Eliza Warren

I contine my quest to check off items on my Bucket List.

#6. Visit the Museum of Contemporary Photography through Columbia College. I went on a rainy Saturday and was glad to have ventured into the drizzle. The small museum packs quite the punch for a venue of its size. The first exhibit, Sarah Pickering’s Incident Control, was fascinating. She documented explosive tests and training facilities for British firefighters, police and forensics teams. I really enjoyed the exhibit because her photographs provided a window into a world that I rarely think about – the world of training in near-real-life situations.

The second exhibit, Talkin’ Back: Chicago Youth Respond, was pretty powerful. Students were given the opportunity to explore their feelings about their living situations and to comment on their surroundings through the foundations of photography and poetry. This exhibition, in its 7th year, was a collaborative effort between the Center for Community Arts Partnerships and the Museum of Contemporary Photography. The photographs and poems provide a channel for these students to express themselves, and there were some powerful expressions indeed. My only complaint is that there were no prints (or postcards) for purchase…I enjoyed the exhibits so much I wanted to take some of them home! Although this exhibit just closed, I highly recommend checking out the museum.

#7. Attend a classical music concert (preferably indoors). This past Tuesday, a friend invited me to attend a concert through the Rush Hour Concerts series. Held in the St. James Cathedral located at 65 East Huron Street, it was short walk from work.  After some light refreshments, we wandered in and took a seat in a nearby pew. The Fulcrum Point New Music Project performed – a group comprised of a pianist, trombonist, trumpet player, and a French horn player.  The show, lasting a little over 30 minutes, provided a nice respite between the work environment and the hustle and bustle of rush hour traffic. I really enjoyed myself and plan to attend another in the future – they are offered every Tuesday and are free (though donations are always accepted)!

#8. Have a misadventure on the Metra. Intrigued to see what life was like outside of the city, I purchased a one-way ticket on the Union Pacific North line of the Metra. It was a pretty train ride, and I got to see Evanston, Lake Forest, and many other areas. I stopped in Kenosha, Wisconsin to have lunch with a friend, and intended to return that day. I had made the assumption that the Kenosha stop, because it was the end of the line, would have an ATM or a station where I could purchase a return ticket. Much to my surprise, there was neither. Terrified that I wouldn’t be able to get home, I began asking the other passengers if they knew of an ATM nearby, which is when I met Betsy and Laura, two sisters from northern Illinois. They graciously offered to help me pay for my return ticket – and in exchange, I learned quite a bit from the two teachers on the hour-long train ride back into Chicago. I was fortunate to meet them, but I would like to warn anyone unfamiliar with the Metra: don’t make the mistake I made. Carry cash or buy a round-trip ticket!

#9. Buy flowers at a farmer’s market.  I took a stroll (well, about a 2.5 mile walk) to the Lincoln Park Farmers Market.  Smaller than I expected, it still had a nice range of fruits, vegetables, herbs, cheeses and breads for purchase.  They had beautiful sunflowers for sale, but I couldn’t for the life of me picture a vase in my apartment tall enough to accommodate them!  Any suggestions for displaying sunflowers?  I ended up with zucchini instead (at 3 for $1, how could I resist?), but I’m hoping to return for a fresh bouquet for my bedroom. 

Cupcake update! I ventured to my third Chicago cupcake venue, Phoebe’s Cupcakes, this past Sunday. Intrigued by the flavors listed on their web site (including Blood Orange Curd!), I took the opportunity to stroll down Clark Street to the little shop. Unfortunately, they no longer have the blood orange cupcake, but I tried a Salted Caramel instead. It was great – affordable (at less than $3, it is one of the cheapest I have come by), moist, and just the right size. They rotate flavors every few weeks, so look for their upcoming specialty flavors!

I luckily stumbled upon an incredible deal while reading Time Out ChicagoMore Cupcakes, located on 1 E. Delaware, had free cupcake Mondays throughout June!  Discovering this fact, I was able to take advantage of this incredible offer before it expired.  The store is quite small, but the cupcakes are beautifully decorated, not to mention delicious!  I tried the s’mores cupcake and definitely plan to return for a savory cupcake like the bacon maple or the blt (I’m not kidding!!).

Hannah Karns