669 Posts

Lincoln Service to Alton, IL - ALL ABOARD!

Time to plan your summer activities, Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are teaming up with state, regional, and local tourism offices to showcase the variety of tourist destinations in Illinois.

Join us Friday, May 13th at the historic Great Hall of Chicago Union Station (210 South Canal St.) for Illinois Tourism Day.

Enjoy live music from the 1840s to the Roaring 20s performed by the Vintage Brass Band Quartet from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm.

You’ll be able to enter to win drawings for free Amtrak tickets while you’re there and we will have plenty of free tourism brochures, including car-free vacations by Amtrak, available to help you plan your trips.

Southwest Chief in Henderson County, IL

Downstate and Chicago area city and county representatives along the three state-supported Illinois Amtrak routes will be on hand from 7:00 am to 4:00 pm to answer your questions.  Let them help you plan an itinerary to suit your interests. 


 Illinois Amtrak railway routes:

  • Chicago-St. Louis route will be: Bloomington-Normal Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Main Street Lincoln, Springfield Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Central Illinois Tourism Development Office.
  • Chicago-Carbondale Route will be: Chicago Southland Convention and Visitors Bureau, Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau.
  • Chicago-Quincy route will be: Naperville Convention and Visitors Bureau, Henry County (Kewanee) Tourism, Galesburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Macomb Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, and Western Illinois Tourism Development Office.

 Amtrak and the Illinois Department of Transportation are teaming up with state, regional, and local tourism offices to showcase the variety of tourist destinations in Illinois.

It’s a great way to plan a few summer weekend getaways, under one roof.  Hope you can join us.

Ciao –


Anthill Gallery, Cobden, IL

With all the recent rains and area flooding, many of the great outdoor recreation opportunities have been put on hold, but, there are many visual art events that can be enjoyed in Southernmost Illinois.      So,    Grab your umbrellas, slip on your galoshes, and sally forth to enjoy the following art events and activities!                                                                 

              Miniature Landscape Oil Paintings by Kenneth Burnside

When: May 5th  –  June 12th                                                                                      Where: anthill gallery & vintage curiosities, 102 Front St. Cobden, IL  Description:  anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is pleased to announce an exhibition of miniature landscape oil paintings by Southern Illinois artist Kenneth Burnside.  The exhibition of Ken’s new work will be presented at anthill gallery beginning May 5 and running through June 12, 2011.  anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is located on the historic elevated sidewalk in Cobden at 102 North Front Street, open Thursday and Friday from noon to 6:00 pm; Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; and Sunday from noon to 4:00 p.m.  

anthill gallery also announces a new adult art class which will be taught at the gallery by Southern Illinois artist Bea Phillips.  The class on Altered Books will begin Thursday, June 9 and run each Thursday for six weeks, concluding on July 14, from 1:00 through 4:00 p.m.  You may sign up for this class by contacting Bea Phillips at ahoneybea@aol.com or you may stop in the gallery at 102 N. Front Street in Cobden to register.  Class size is limited to 10 students.  The fee for the six-week class is $60.   Contact anthill gallery at (618) 303-3183.

Makanda Spring Fest

When: Saturday and Sunday, May 7th and 8th – 10:00 a.m. until dusk

Where: Downtown Makanda, IL 

Description:  If you’ve never visited the famous Makanda Boardwalk, this would be a great time to go.  Artists from the surrounding area will have their finest works on display for viewing and purchase. Local bands will play blues, jazz and bluegrass at the Makanda Pavillion and in the Rainmaker’s Garden.  Artists wishing to reserve a booth for the two day event may contact Nina Kovar at (618) 549-5523 or email Janelle Weber at makandainn@gmail.com.

Reds, Whites, and Blues Festival at Blue Sky Winery

When:  Saturday, May 14th  10 a.m. – 8 p.m. and Sunday, May 15th, 12 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Where:  Blue Sky Winery, 3150 S. Rocky Comfort Rd. Makanda, IL

Description:  One of the best places to view locally produced art is at the Blue Sky Winery.  Everyone is invited to enjoy fine wine, great music and good company, and to say “Hat’s Off” to new graduates!  King Juba, Black Magic Johnson, Deep Fried Rhythm and Blues featuring Mike Aguirre, and Ms. Dahn & the Misters Variety Band will provide the weekend’s musical entertainment.  Local artisans will be on hand with jewelry, metal and copper works, glass art, and oil, acrylics, and watercolor paintings for sale. Admission is $6.00 and will include four wine samples and a souvenir glass.  Children under 15 are admitted free of charge.  For more information, visit www.blueskyvineyard.com.

-Enjoy 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:

[googlemaps http://maps.google.com/maps/ms?ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=113849109827449889535.000484a276127d569a4d0&ll=39.802898,-89.648266&spn=0.003956,0.006866&z=17&iwloc=000484a28064cfebe2451&output=embed&w=640&h=480]

Add to FacebookAdd to DiggAdd to Del.icio.usAdd to StumbleuponAdd to RedditAdd to BlinklistAdd to TwitterAdd to TechnoratiAdd to FurlAdd to Newsvine

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!



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 www.cacherivernaturefest.org . To find out about lodging in the area, call the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau at 1-800-248-4373, or visit  www.southernmostillinois.com.