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Thursday, May 27, 2010 01:39 am

The summerlong guide

A guide to fun in central Illinois



Old Capitol Farmers Market
8 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Wednesdays and Saturdays through Oct. 30

The excuses not to eat fresh, healthier and local just got fewer in number. Old Capitol Farmers Market spreads its bountiful harvest on the streets of downtown Springfield farther than ever.

Downtown Springfield Inc.’s market manager, Ann Frescura, announced that this year’s Farmers Market extends past Adams Street, which is closed off between Fifth and Third streets, to include seven new spaces on Broadway Street, southwest of the railroad tracks.

Frescura notes, “The expansion is a dream come true; many vendors have been on a waiting list for a permanent spot for years. This expansion is not only a great opportunity for vendors, but also demonstrates the popularity and value of today’s farmers markets seen across the United States. We are very proud to be part of the movement toward healthier, greener, lifestyles, food choices and nutritional options.”

The standards that you’ve come to know are still available: fruits, vegetables, plants, coffee, honey, meats, cheese, bakery items and much more. Many of these items were picked or made right before the producer came to market. There’s more.

Housed in a larger and more visible area in the parking lot at the southeast corner of Fourth and Adams, artisans have a new home. Find locally made treasures every Saturday from June 5 through Oct. 23.

Also at Fourth and Adams, live entertainment takes place from 10 a.m. to noon during Super Saturdays, held the third Saturday of each month. Increase your market experience with the sounds of: Thornhill on June 19; Elvis Himselvis on July 17; Don Smith Band on Aug. 21; salsa dancing and music by Julio Barrenzuela on Sept. 21; and Black Magic Johnson on Oct. 16. In addition, Chef Michael Higgins of Maldaner’s Restaurant holds chef demonstrations.

For more information visit www.downtownspringfield.org.


Taste of Downtown and American Music Show
Saturday, July 10, 12 p.m. to 12 a.m. at Fifth and Washington

Like wine tasting without having to buy the entire bottle, Taste of Downtown offers a large variety of scrumptious food in one spot from more than 20 downtown restaurants.

Chefs will cook and serve ethnic, classic and eclectic cuisine. Visualize the mouth-watering flavor of such foods as fried oyster poor boys, an elk burger from Augie’s, a barbeque ponyshoe from Caitie Girl’s, or a jerk turkey taco from Café Brio. Restaurants are still registering and formulating their menus currently for this annual favorite event, but these were some of the past participants and their contributions.

While you’re salivating over the fantastic food, listen to The American Music Show which promises to rock out in style throughout the afternoon and night. The roster includes: southern rockers Jason Isbell and the 400 Unit; Hollywood dance music band The Lucky Stars; duo rockers JEFF the Brotherhood, including singer/guitarist Jake Orrall and drummer Jamin Orrall; and modern day Indiana folk troubadour Otis Gibbs.

The Taste and Music Show are more kid friendly this year, thanks to collaboration between Downtown Springfield, Inc., springfieldmoms.org, St. John’s Hospital and Marine Bank. In the afternoon, kids can see children’s entertainment on the little stage. They can also join in free activities created just for them, and more fun is planned.

The admission fee is $2, with individual restaurants setting prices for their menu items. More details are forthcoming, so in the future visit Downtown Springfield, Inc.’s Web site to get the scoop at downtownspringfieldinc.org.

PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE Juneteenth Celebration 2009

Juneteenth Celebration
Saturday, June 19 and Sunday, June 20, 12 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Juneteenth Celebration is a community-wide cultural celebration, in its 17th year in Springfield, but also held in towns and communities all across the United States. It marks the day that slaves in Galveston, Texas celebrated their release into freedom.

Locally, festivities kick off on Saturday at 10 a.m. with a parade that includes local groups and organizations. The procession starts at Brown Street and Martin Luther King Drive, moves to Adams Street and MLK Drive, ending at Cox Comer Park.

New this year, according to organizer Mike Williams, is a motorcycle show held 1-5 p.m. with winners in several categories. The bikes will flank MLK Drive from Adams to Washington streets.

Popular attractions for the weekend remain the Marla Jean Hunter Basketball Tournament and live stage acts that take place both days, featuring dancers, poetry and music. Vendors tote food, art and jewelry for purchase.

Sponsor of this popular and growing freedom celebration is One in a Million Inc., a Springfield not-for-profit group whose mission is to move the community toward spiritual, social, racial, political and economic equality.


Illinois State Fair
August 13-22 at the fairgrounds

Sweet, unbelievable, fascinating, cool as can be and affordable. If life is like a box of chocolates, Illinois’ week-long fair is like a huge, sculpted butter cow.

No good reason to stay home. Like sculpting from butter instead of marble, it’s easy to find plenty to do for everyone and every wallet size. Those watching their budgets, and sun exposure, can browse the clothing, craft and food exhibits or watch one of the many shows or competitions. You can jump inside the air-conditioned dairy building for ice cream, milk, cheese or a chance to see the famed cow.

New for ages 4-10 is Farmer’s Little Helper inside gate 2 near Peoria and Sangamon roads. Kids can live the life of a farmer performing tasks from milking a cow and shearing a sheep to selling the goods at market and using the money to grocery shop. There’s also plenty to learn from local groups and organizations located under tents and in buildings, and many offer small freebies and great information for families.

Families may also want to visit on Family Day, Aug. 22, when admission is lowered. Several special days are planned at the fair, each with their own fascinating deal. Veterans Day, on Aug. 15, allows vets free admission and a parade. Senior Citizens and Scout Day is on Aug. 16, and you guessed it, free admission. Futures for Kids Day is on Aug. 20 and Park District Conservation Day is set for Aug. 21.

Grandstand acts this year were planned for ten nights to please an array of people’s musical tastes. Highlights include the popular country trio, Lady Antebellum, who were nominated for seven Academy of Country Music Awards. They take the stage on Friday, May 13. The 70s band Cheap Trick, with rock ’n’ roll Hall of Fame inductee Blondie, perform the following Friday, May 20.

Fairgoers and the public in general will not want to miss the kickoff to the fair, as the parade gears up on Aug. 12 at 6 p.m. beginning at Ninth Street and North Grand Avenue. The procession makes its way to and through the fairgrounds with the opening ceremony at the main gate where its 100th anniversary will be celebrated. Admission is free because it’s Preview Night, one of those special days, and carnival rides are offered at a discounted price. Sweet.


Old Capitol Blues and BBQs
Saturday, Aug. 28, from 12 p.m. to 12 a.m.

Get fired up for 12 hours of rapture as your ears and taste buds join in harmony at the Old Capitol Blues and BBQs. Downtown Springfield, Inc., and Illinois Central Blues Club cook up a smorgasbord of bliss as blues music and barbequed meat fit together, ah so perfectly, like peas imbedded in mashed potatoes.

The ever tasty outdoor gathering features more than 40 BBQ competitors and vendors serving ribs and more, both local and national blues musicians, the Blues Club Challenge and, new this year, children’s activities and entertainment in the afternoon.

At noon, hear solo and duo acts as they take the Illinois Central Blues Club stage on Washington Street with local band competition following in 30-minute intervals. Winners represent the ICBC at the 2010 Blues Foundation International Blues Challenge in Memphis, Tenn.

National acts rockin’ the north Capitol complex beginning at 3 p.m. are The Modern Sounds, Chicago favorites and a trio who play 30s, 40s and 50s music. They are followed by Carl “Sonny Leyland at 4:30 p.m., with Black Diamond Heavies, a band from Nashville, at 6 p.m. The influential blues guitarist Junior Watson dazzles at 8 p.m., while international sensation Toni Lynn Washington performs at 9 p.m. and Chicago’s Big James and the Chicago Playboys carry attendees into the night hours at 10 p.m.

The soirée is at Fifth and Washington streets. If you can’t see or hear the smoking party as you make your way downtown, that’s where to head. Admission is $5.

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