Fair Food and fun at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand Preview Party

Fair Food and fun at the Illinois State Fair Grandstand Preview Party

I must say, it was fun to be a writer (covering the event for Farm World) at today’s Illinois State Fair Grandstand Preview party and press conference. To remind the attendees of the great fair food, popular food vendors like Vose Korndogs, Fulgenzi’s Pizza, Poe’s Catering offering delectable pulled pork sandwiches and Coleman lemon shakeups were on hand providing fair food for hungry crowd. I admit I had one of each!

Bob Vose of the amazing corn dogs has had years to perfect his specialty. I was able to capture the above picture of Mr. Vose who said, “I have been after it for 47 years. It is just business as usual.”

Radio stations were at the event and I had my picture taken with 101.9 the Wolf mascot before getting down to the real reason I was there, “Oh yeah, to write!”

Animals were also on hand to remind attendees that the fair is all about agriculture. From two lovely Belgium horses that gave Summer Robbins, 2014 Miss Illinois County Fair Queen a ride, to Caleb Whitcomb’s sheep and a pair of hairy llamas they were all crowd pleasers. The Belgium horses were owned by Ken Sexton of Springfield and the lovely Queen got to ride in Jim Winches wooden wagon pulled by the horses that Sexton named Rose and Sandra.
This made smile because two of my good friends that had a chance at New Salem a couple years ago to try out two horses plowing were these very same horses, what is funny though is that my friends, like the mares, are also named Rose and Sandy!

Anyway, I digress, Ken Sexton and Jim Winch saw me taking pictures and how interested I was in the horses and the cool ride the Queen got to take. They offered me the same treatment so I sat like the royalty I am not high on the wagon and got a ride of my own!

About that time the press conference was underway and I thought after eating and playing my way through the beginning of the event I had best get to it. This year’s grandstand entertainment includes a star- studded lineup with Rapper Pitbull, the Chicago cast from the Million Dollar Quartet, country crooners Jake Owner and Hunter Hayes and country band Florida Georgia Line. Rock legends Steely Dan and Boston along with the ten finalists on American Idol will also perform. Two days have yet to be announced. “This year’s entertainment is going to be something you don’t want to miss,” Bliefnick said.

The event wrapped up with good news from Illinois Department of Agriculture Director Robert Flider who shared the results of a University of Illinois study on the impact of the Illinois State Fair. “In 2013, we had 961,000 attendees that generated 86 million to the Springfield area economy. The fair brought 1225 jobs and 2.7 million in sales tax.”
So he said the bottom line is that the 7.3 million spent to put on the fair, “comes back in multiple ways.”

The Illinois State Fair takes place from August 7-17, 2014. Log onto http://www.illinoisstatefair.info or call 217-782-1979 for more information about the grand stand or fair events.

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Get your Lincoln fix at the soon to reopen Lincoln Heritage Museum

Get your Lincoln fix at the soon to reopen Lincoln Heritage Museum

In just a few short weeks you can check out the Lincoln Heritage Museum. Located at Lincoln College, the museum will reopened officially April 26, 2014. Ranked as one of the “30 Most Amazing University Museum’s in the World”, the museum just got a lot more interactive and opens up a whole new experience for Lincoln fans
I was able to tour this new state of the art facility with my dad Bill Disque, and we were impressed by both the traditional layout found on the first floor that is filled with Lincoln artifacts and the second floor interactive display that opens after Lincoln’s assassination at Ford’s Theater.

Ron Keller, Associate Professor of History and Political Science is also the Lincoln Heritage Museum Director shared that the museum focuses on Lincoln’s character. “Empathy, perseverance and intellect are all qualities Lincoln had, that we can all live out and immolate Lincoln doing,” Keller said.

With the dazzling array of interactive items, Keller said, “The museum offers living history that brings characters to life.”

Taylor Studios out of Rantoul, Illinois was selected to work with Lincoln College on the museum designs. Using touch points, and pictures that first appear as silk screen paintings Taylor Studios brought Lincoln’s story together offering images with audio visuals.

The museum first opened in 1942 when Judge Lawrence Stringer willed his Lincoln and Logan County history collection to Lincoln College with the stipulation that a museum be established. At first the museum was placed in “The Lincoln Room” that was dedicated February 11, 1944, and then the collection was moved to the McKinstry Memorial Building in 1971. The collection has grown with donations that include items from Robert Todd Lincoln Beckwith, the last surviving direct descendant of Abraham Lincoln. Today the collection has found a permanent home in the Lincoln Heritage Museum’s newly built Lincoln Center.

The museum has several authentic Lincoln era items and one of my favorites was a platter that was sold while Lincoln was working as a store clerk in New Salem.

Visitors to the museum can either take the quicker walk through without the audio visual effects, or if you have an hour and a half or more, (which I recommend if not with young children) the touch points provide all the details of Lincoln’s life after viewing the artifact and story boards on the first floor.
“This is really something,” my father who is not lavish with praise said. When dad says something is worthwhile, they did a great job!

The Lincoln Heritage Museum is located at Lincoln College, 1115 Nicholson Road, Lincoln, Illinois. Call 217-735-7399 or log onto http://www.lincolnheritagemuseum.org for information. Outside the museum, a statue of Lincoln seems to greet you as you come through to learn more about his amazing life and legacy where the motto is “Learn from Lincoln, Live like Lincoln.”

Open Monday – Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. and Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., the museum is closed Sundays and holidays. Admission is $5.00 for adults, $3.—ages 6-15 and senior citizens.

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Happy Easter Where Ever You May Be

Happy Easter Where Ever You May Be

Decorating eggs has been going on for many years. Ostrich eggs engraved have been found in Africa 60,000 years ago and in Egypt, eggs were decorated with both silver and gold within the last five thousand years.

From what I have been able to ascertain, the Easter egg represents Jesus empty tomb and have been adopted as a symbol of Christ rising from the grave. While there is without a doubt a significance to the tradition, it is also just plain fun.

With grandchildren around we followed the tradition ourselves today and had a wonderful celebration on the farm on this the most holy day of the Christian faith! All eggs were found and chocolate quickly consumed or put away for later.

I hope you have found some traditions for your own family. May you have a blessed Easter wherever you may be!

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Chole’s and Company, a dining establishment in Girard

Chole's and Company, a dining establishment in Girard

This past week my friend Suzette and I decided to try out Chloe and Company, a relatively new restaurant in Girard, Illinois. The diner is located in a former Masonic Temple and although the address is 223 W Madison St, the restaurant sits right along the easily accessible Route 4.

The building is big and I was delighted that rather than being a grand old decaying building like so many in small towns these days, it is a refurbished dining hall with great food. The temple was constructed in 1923 and was home to Girard Chapter No. 132.

The restaurant is set in the lower level of the building. As far as the dining fare, I had a Taco salad and Suzette a salad with chicken. We both enjoyed our food and the service from the friendly owner. Even though the day we were there it was a one man show, we were still served quickly and with friendly banter.

The restaurant is open through the week and closed on Wednesday, offering evening hours until eight. Girard is a great little stop with the Pharmacy museum at Doc’s Soda Fountain you can make an afternoon of it, eat at Chloe’s and go see the museum and try out their dessert. The Furniture Doctor is also in town and they do a great job bringing old treasures to life.

“We need to plan to come back,” Suzette said after we stopped, one more diner to add to your list!

Call (217)-627-2111 for details!

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Planning for spring and summer

Planning for spring and summer

As the rain falls, it is time to take stock and plan where to go once the spring flowers that have pushed their way out of the frozen ground bloom. A trip to southern Illinois is on the horizon for me, I want to search the web find the stops to make and the people to connect with along the way.

Don’t let the drizzle keep you from a destination, use it as day dream time, catch up time or book time, reading about the far away places on the other side of the window pane.

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III Tomasso’s Italian Bistro, fun!

III Tomasso's Italian Bistro, fun!

Yesterday I ventured out to one of Springfield Illinois’s latest Italian restaurants, III Tomasso’s Italian Bistro. With restaurants like Saputos’s, Shepardo’s and other Italian dynasties in town, there is a lot of competition along the way, but I must say, my chicken rigatoni the special of the day was quite tasty and I liked the bright sunny look of the bistro and the great service.

Located in Legacy Point, in Scheel’s backyard, the restaurant was our stop for a birthday celebration for my daughter-in-law. Three of us went to dine there and everyone was excited about the food and the less congested driving in this neck of the Springfield woods.

Looking up details on the Bistro I found that the owner of this restaurant is the owner of another Springfield favorite, D’Arcy’s Pint, so she has a lot of experience with casual dining and it shows. The picture I selected was from the one in the diner, fun place, good food and friendly service, a winning combination. Only one word of warning the sauce that comes with the bread has a bit of a kick so if not expecting it, be prepared!

Log on for details to http://tomassosbistro.com/about-us.aspx.

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Windmill on the ceiling is just one of the unique items on display at the Kenny Bush museum in Milan, Il

Windmill on the ceiling is just one of the unique items on display at the Kenny Bush museum in Milan, Il

During the Gathering of the Green I hopped on the big yellow school bus and traveled to Milan Illinois with my husband Keith and a group of other tractor enthusiasts to see the Kenny Bush museum. Kenny Bush and his wife Marilyn have been married for 55 years and they have 5 children and 13 grandchildren. The museum serves as a place for his extensive collection of agricultural items, tractors and everything in between.

The museum is a place where young people and collectors alike can learn a lot about agricultural history. Taking over the farm at the tender age of 16, Kenny Bush has worked hard and his collection and the family history included in the museum shows his love of farming and his loved ones.

The museum has two phases, one is the main museum with the Baker windmill hanging on the ceiling in the dining hall that is flanked by John Deere literature and grandchildren history plus a rare Velie car. In the front of the building are displays with literature, history of a backhoe for pedal tractors that he developed originally for his grandson and much more. Upstairs is a one room school house, old farm kitchen and small tools. In the shop is Kenny’s collection of tractors which include a beautiful Heider tractor and more.

I will be detailing more about this museum in other publications, but if you get a chance to be part of a tour at this amazing museum you won’t be sorry you did. While my time to visit with the Bush family was brief, it was evident in both his son Kevin, and daughter Karen and wife Marilyn’s comments that this museum is a labor of love for all involved. “I love seeing my dad’s love of farming, family and history expressed in a way people can enjoy,” Karen Jackson said.

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Kenny Bush’s museum is located at 6706 78th Ave. W, Milan, Ill. 61264. This is a private museum and requires reservations to tour. Call 309 787-1926 to set up a time to visit.

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Guido’s Pizzeria & Tapas a restaurant on the hill

Guido's Pizzeria & Tapas a restaurant on the hill

Searching for a place to eat on St. Louis famous hill on a Sunday turned out to be a challenge until we found the delectable Guido’s Pizzeria & Tapas which fit the bill before our viewing of Ghost at the Peabody Opera House. The Hill is always a place we want to go whenever we head to the city.

The Hill is home to any great Italian restaurants. There is an official website https://visit.hill2000.org/tours-of-the-hill for the Hill and the history they offer states, “Once called Fairmount Heights, the highest point in the City, The Hill had German and Irish immigrants working the clay mines. Italians seeking a new future in America came to the area to work those same clay mines and made The Hill their neighborhood in the 1890′s. The Hill has been home to some of Saint Louis City’s most nationally known residents, including baseball heroes Joe Gargiola and Lawrence “Yogi” Berra”.

I was fascinated to note that they even give tours of the Hill. I think this would be great fun and that if a native of the area conducted the tour I would find hidden gems in this historic area.

As for Guido’s, the food was great, my daughter Carrie ordered fettuccini Alfredo, I ordered manicotti and my mom stuck with her favorite spaghetti. Together we all three shared the Guido salad and it was amazing. The restaurant has an interesting twist with a Spanish and Italian menu. It was a great family place and many family combinations came and went while we dined and enjoyed before heading out to our show. Located at 5046 Shaw Ave, St Louis, MO 63110, call (314) 771-4900 for more information!

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Magnolias Restaurant, a new find

Magnolias Restaurant, a new find

Always on the lookout for a different place to dine I was delighted today with my new find, Magnolias which is a former church turned restaurant in Carlinville, Illinois. The church was originally a German Catholic church and I heard about the restaurant and a bit of the history of it from the wonderful Carlinville Writers group (which by the way is really a group of central, southern Illinois writers). The writers are comprised of poets, novelists, short story writers of all genres with an artist or two to boot.

The restaurant came about when the Irish Catholic church and the German Catholic church in town merged leaving the German catholic church with the attached church hall empty and ready for its next phase.
In 2009 Magnolia’s opened and the church hall became a wonderful restaurant with old world charming decor. They feature homemade soups, salads and scratch offerings. I tried the soup and half sandwich option after a long deliberation. The Lobster Bisque soup and chicken salad were great. “I love their soups and this is the only place I know where I can go and get filled up on a salad,” one of the members of the writer’s group shared.

We were able to see the recently finished former sanctuary which has been converted to a banquet hall. The area has been decorated in church style (see photo above) and is a great place for weddings, parties, rehearsal dinners and more. “This would be a great place for my birthday party,” another member quipped.
A bit off the beaten path, if like me you are looking for a change of pace, try it out. My mother-in-law loves the place and I have heard through the grapevine that they offer up a wonderful breakfast.

Located at 531 S. West St. Carlinville, IL 62626, call 217-854-7167 for details or log onto their website at http://www.magnolias531.com/default.htm.

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Ode to Gathering of the Green!

We remember the old John Deere’s
Along with the new
The Gathering of the Green
Was green through and through
Displays and vendors
Vied for attention and time
Enthusiasts wondered about
Considering how to spend their hard earned dime
Much was educational
Learning restoration tips
Visiting with others
Hearing stories from their lips
The days go so quickly
Reminiscing about the past
Gathering of the Green
Isn’t long enough, it doesn’t last
Look at the pictures
Take out the calendar and mark it down
For 2016
When the next gathering will come to town!

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