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The annual Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival is just around the corner, Sept. 3 & 4, and is promising to be even bigger and better than last year. Join all thirteen members of the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail on Labor Day Weekend at the Down Town Park in Cobden IL for fine wines, a grape stomp, live music, local artisans and more.

This festival brings the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail’s finest wines to down town Cobden, IL.  saving you time and a tank, or two, of gas. Enjoy some of your favorite wines while enjoying live music:     

Saturday:  Blues Handle (St. Louis Blues)

Sunday:    The Kevin Lucas Orchestra (Progressive Rock)

A $15.00 admission includes a souvenir wine glass, 13 wine samples, entertainment and a $5.00 off coupon to use at any one of the winery tents. 

 Kick off the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival with a unique tasting event celebrating the Vignoles wine grape.  ”Among the Stars” is an evening that showcases Vignoles products made within the Shawnee Hills American Viticultural Area, a federally designated region identified as a unique wine grape growing district in deep southern Illinois. Wines and spirits have been specially paired with locally-produced foods as appetizers to offer regional wine enthusiasts a new and in-depth appreciation of wine grapes grown in the Shawnee Hills area, all for a $30.00 ticket.

Make this a Labor Day Weekend to remember and celebrate Illinois Wine Month at the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Festival.



War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a beautiful place. If you’ve never been there or if you only get out there once in a while, you ought to see what you’re missing.     War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is located in rural Pope County in southeastern Illinois. Adjoining the wilderness of the Shawnee National Forest, this nearly 500-acre sanctuary is home to a large variety of birds and mammals, as well as a great diversity of rare plants, including several species of native orchids. The purpose of the sanctuary is to protect the wildlife and habitat, and for research on populations and native species. War Bluff Valley Sanctuary is a place for birds and other creatures. It is also for people – people who respect and love wildlife and the land.

We enjoyed several miles of maintained trails, winding through the various habitats including upland and bottomland forest, shrub and regenerating forest, and open land.  Don’t miss Simmons Creek, a beautiful rock bottom clear creek that runs through the middle of the property, with its many tributaries encountered throughout. Other features include 7 ponds, historic homestead sites, and interesting geology. Visitors are welcome from dawn to dusk daily, with guided tours possible with advance notice. Trails range in difficulty from easy to moderately difficult. Appropriate all-terrain footwear is essential where ever you go. Other than out-house accommodations at three locations within the sanctuary, there are no amenities — you will want to bring your own food & water, and, pack out anything you take in.

 Come for a visit anytime or come to volunteer on Stewardship Day, the second Saturday of each month–bring work gloves, water & a sack lunch.  We start about 9:30am.   Call 618-683-2222 for more details.

Enjoy Southern Illinois!


Nestled in a canyon, north of I-70 in Central Illinois is wonderful piece of nature, little known even to the locals. Rock Cave Nature Preserve is a Illinois Department of Resources preserve, 6 miles north of Altamont, exit 82 of I-70, along Rt128.

The sandstone cliffs in this canyon, which are found quite regularly in the far southern and northern areas of Illinois, are rarely seen in the central region. The stream which meanders through the bottom of this canyon hardly seems capable of having cut these mammoth rock faces but is a testament to what water, and a few thousand years can do.

It is a DNR preserve, not a park and as such, there are no amenities of any kind. I would rate the hike as moderate to difficult. There is no marked trail, however it appears the locals keep it ‘tromped down’ enough to see a discernible path. Traveling the length of the canyon requires several stream fordings and a few steep embankments. I did tall shaft rubber hunting boots, but trail shoes and gaiters would do it if you don’t mind wet feet. There is quite a bit of wood nettle and as such I advise calf protection of some sort. I did about a mile up the stream to a large confluence with another stream and was out of time and started my return, I will be going back……especially in the fall/winter.

There’s a small, barely marked parking area at the trail head, next to a small gravel parking area (on the East side of Rt128). To reach the trail head, go south on Rt 128 from Beecher City 5.6 miles, or north from Altamont on Rt128 about 6 miles. The lat lon or GPS coordinates are: 39.1064322, -88.8033924


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In the past several years, there’s been an increasing awareness of the positive impact that “buying local” has on our communities. Many Southernmost Illinois local art galleries and boutiques offer a mix of locally produced,

Southpass beads necklace

original, one-of-a-kind fine art, fine craft, and functional art in a wide range of price points.  Shopping at these establishments is a win-win for all – the shopper acquires a unique piece of art or craft, and the money spent is recycled into the local economy.

Dayshift Boutique Grand Opening Set for Friday, August 19th at 4:00 p.m.

On March 1st of this year, Chris McKinley became the new owner of Dayshift Boutique and has been revamping the Carbondale shop ever since in preparation for its grand opening on August 19th.    She is currently representing over 50 regional artists, some of whom are well established and others who are new to the art world.  In her shop, one can find a wide range of merchandise, including handbags, clothing, jewelry, fine art, photography, blown glass, kitchen and dining room decor, metalwork, ceramics, rugs, pet items, wine racks, greeting cards, and children’s accessories in the kid’s section.  And the best part is -it’s all one-of-a-kind, original, and handmade by a Southern Illinois artist.

One of Chris’s goals is to dispel the myth that specialty shops such as hers only sell pricey art or high-end gifts.  Items for sale at Dayshift range from $1.00 to several hundred dollars with plenty of products priced to fit smaller budgets.  She is creating an environment where her customers can relax and enjoy the esthetics while shopping for that unique gift.  

  Dayshift is located in downtown Carbondale next to the old train depot where the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and Carbondale Main Street offices are located.  The shop is currently open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday from noon to 8:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and is closed on Sunday and Monday.  For more information, call (618) 529-DAYS (3297), email dayshiftshop@gmail.com

Ucoming class at Southpass Beads in Cobden  
When:  Saturday, August 6th
Where: Southpass Beads, 203 Ash Street, Cobden, IL 

Southpass Beads welcomes Vickie Muich, a teaching bead artist from St. Louis for another visit to Cobden.  Vickie taught several bead weaving classes at Southpass Beads in July, and is returning on August 6th to teach “Capturing a Cabochon Bead Weaving”. Class fee is $50 – supplies vary as some will be available in the class price.  Participants may bring some of their own bead supplies and will learn to use Peyote stitch to encase their cabochons.  The class will also discuss design elements and the part color can play in a piece.  For more information, contactLouAnn Elwell at 618-893-6170 or visitwww.southpassbeads.com

John F Boyd: A Retrospective Exhibit:  June 18th – Mid-August

Where: anthill gallery & vintage curiosities, 102 Front St., Cobden, IL

Description:  anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is pleased to announce that due to its popularity, the retrospective exhibition and sale of work by the late John F. Boyd, formerly of Cobden, Illinois will continue into August.   The collection contains a wide range of John’s original artwork including watercolors, pen and inks, etchings, and mixed media.  During his career, John was the recipient of an Emmy Award for a children’s art program which he created for public television.             Larger works by this artist are displayed for exhibition and sale at The Yellow Moon Cafe, 110 North Front Street, Cobden, Illinois.  

 Cobden artist and teacher, Paulette Aronson, will lead a 3-week art class at anthill gallery. The title of the class is “Altered Portraits.”  The class size will be limited to 8 and the $50 cost will include some materials.  The class will meet from 1:00 to 4:00 p.m. on Thursdays, August 18th, 25th and September 1st.  Interested participants need to reserve a space in the class by making a deposit at the gallery during Wednesday through Sunday hours.

 Cobden jewelry artist BeckiDielfield displaysZuna Jewelry and Designs at anthill gallery & vintage curiosities on Wednesdays.

 anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is open Wednesday noon to 4:00 pm.; Thursday through Friday from noon to 6:00 pm; Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; and Sunday from noon to 4:00 pm.  The Yellow Moon Cafe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm; Friday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm  to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday from 10:00 am to midnight.  For more information contact anthill gallery at (618) 303-3183 or visit their webpage at www.anthillgallery.com.

 Enjoy Southern Illinois!


So what is paddleboarding?  Basically you stand up on a surfboard, then paddle around using a long oar.  It is a combination of surfing and canoeing. Once you are able to keep a balance and get the hang of it, it allows you to enjoy being out on the water without ever getting wet.  While stand-up paddleboarding is afairly easy sport to grasp, it is always a good idea to learn the basic and proper techniques right from the start.

You may have seen some paddleboarders riding the lake.  There seems to be an upsurge in interest in paddle boarding on Lake Michigan.  While Lake Michigan may not be the first location that comes to mind when you think of a stand up paddle spot, the lake is a surprisingly ideal location to enjoy this sport. During the summer months, gentle winds and warmer water combine for a smooth, fresh water paddling experience.  

The Great Lakes Board Company is on North Avenue Beach and they rent paddlebaords for $25 an hour.  Whether you want to leisurely glide across the water or get a great workout racing across the beach, stand-up paddle boarding is for everyone.  Give it a stroke! 

Enjoy summer,

Mary Cashman