Doing laundry is not a subjective thing. There is a right way and a wrong way to go about it. If you do it wrong you wind up with all pink socks or shrunken sweaters. A summer in Springfield can be very similar. If you do it wrong you wind up sitting home bored, thinking there is nothing to do.
If you do it right you can have a wonderful, relaxing, fun-filled summer. You have to fully submerse yourself in the small town fair/festival, Lincoln-esque culture of the area.
On Wednesdays and Saturdays during the summer, Adams Street downtown becomes alive with the Old Capitol Farmers Market. More than 60 vendors can be found selling everything from fresh honey to all kinds of fruit and vegetables to artisan breads to flowers. Bring a basket or bag and walk up and down the stalls, pretending like you know how to pick out a ripe melon. When you're done, sit in the sun on the Old Capitol steps enjoying a peach you just bought and wonder if the great Emancipator himself ever did something similar.
During the summer, the Springfield area is full of festivals and fairs. The best way to go about them is to gather a group of friends together who aren't afraid of being silly and having fun. Alternate drivers so you always have a designated driver and so no one person gets the gas price gouge.
June 4-11 is the International Carillon Festival. Carilloneurs from around the world journey to Washington Park for a week of music and entertainment including a fireworks display. Bring lawn chairs and a little cooler and marvel that people will come from around the world to play bells.
The 20th Annual Washington Street Jazz Festival is June 24. Everyone loves live music and this event showcases a variety of different jazz and blues bands throughout the day. There will be food and beverages available for purchase so bring your lawn chairs and enjoy a beautiful Saturday downtown while listening to some music.
One of my personal favorite summer events is the Taste of Downtown, held July 8 from noon to midnight. Downtown restaurants will be offering food items for sale. There will be everything from hot dogs, horseshoes and burgers to sushi, salmon, fried oysters and shrimp vesuvio. Bring a group of friends, everyone get something different and share!
Springfield is surrounded by small towns and communities that can all offer some sort of entertainment or interesting diversion. June 14-18 in New Berlin is the Sangamon County Fair. It is everything you think a county fair would be–pure redneck heaven a few miles down Interstate 72! There are people with mullets, fried cheese on a stick, square dance demonstrations, country western singers and prize cows. Throw on those old cowboy boots and succumb to the smalltown silliness.
July 14 and 15 think about heading south to Chatham for the Sweetcorn Festival. There is the usual music and food but they also offer some interesting competitions such as the Highland Games and the world championship cow chip throw (I'm not exactly sure what that it but it sounds a little gross). And did I happen to mention the best sweetcorn ever? Yum.
But there is a lot more to do in Springfield then go to festivals. The area is alive with historical sites. Make a challenge for yourself to visit all the Lincoln sites this summer. Spend the day at New Salem, visit the Lincoln/Herndon Law Offices, go see the Lincoln Ledger at Chase Bank, visit the new Presidential museum if you haven't already. Do it all! So you can say you did and plus, it's fun!
If you are sick and tired of Lincoln, make a different challenge to see all the “houses.” Visit the Vachel Lindsay Home, the Lincoln Home (oops! I guess a Lincoln place snuck in there), the Dana-Thomas House, Edwards Place and the Executive Mansion. See where everyone else lives.
If none of that appeals to you, there are other amusement avenues for you to peruse. The Knight's Action Park features a water park complete with slides, pedal boats and a wave pool. It also offers a driving range, a miniature golf course, batting cage and go karts. There is also the Route 66 Drive In movie theater. Grab some take out from D'Arcy's Pint and a cooler of soda and settle in for a double feature.
If you are a bit of a daredevil, head on over to Rochester for The Silo, a rock climbing gym. If you are more sedate, consider bowling. Yes, you have to wear someone else's shoes, but other then that it is a great time.
Summer in Springfield also offers a variety of live theatre. There are dramatic, musical and comedic events performed each weekend at New Salem's Theatre in the Park. There is also The Muni, an outdoor theater whose line-up this summer includes “Annie Warbucks,” “Chicago,” “Aida” and “The King and I.” Bring lawn chairs and a picnic dinner and sit on the lawn while you enjoy some community theater.
There is always something going on in Springfield. You just need to know where to look for it and you need to have a good attitude about it.
Check out these sizzling summer films
Gabrielle Wiegand - Feature Writer
Schools out! With the end of classes and the rise in temperature comes perhaps the best part of the season–summer films.
June begins with a long-awaited film (well, maybe I'm the only one who has been anticipating its release with bated breath). “The Break Up” with Jennifer Aniston and Vince Vaughn. Filmed in Chicago last summer, “The Break Up” is about a couple who calls it quits but then continues to share their home rather then give up the condo each feels is rightfully theirs.
Now I'm not sure if you are aware of it, but June 6 of this year is 6/6/6, and if you are not freaked out enough by the possibility of the world ending or Satan returning to life or whatever is supposed to happen, filmmakers decided to treat the movie going public with “The Omen” on that day. In this film, a government official and his wife (Liev Schreiber and Julia Stiles) adopt a boy only to find out that he is actually the devil.
If the world doesn't actually end on 6/6/6 then be sure to head to the theaters that Friday for “Cars” and “A Prairie Home Companion.” Okay, maybe not “Cars” but definitely the latter film. “A Prairie Home Companion” is chock-full of stars and gives a look into the backstage doings of the last broadcast of America's most celebrated radio show. The cast includes Woody Harrelson, Tommy Lee Jones, Kevin Kline, Lindsey Lohan (give me a moment whilst I vomit), Virginia Madsen, John C. Reilly, Meryl Streep and Lily Tomlin.
If you have children or are just a glutton for punishment, “Cars” is about a hot-shot stock-car named Lightning McQueen who winds up in the little town of Radiator Springs. There the locals teach him heartwarming lessons about what's important in life.
June 16 welcomes this year's “Napolean Dynamite”: “Nacho Libre.” Jack Black stars as a priest who moonlights as a luchador in Mexico's professional wrestling circuit in order to save an orphanage from closure. That same thing happened to me last week actually. From what I understand, Black wears a mask and tights so that's sure to make this film not only funny as heck but also full of eye candy.
In the future all films will be made in threes. Unfortunately, the future seems to be now. In the third installment of “The Fast and the Furious,” we find neither Vin Diesel nor Paul Walker. I never thought it was possible to miss Paul Walker. Who knew? Instead we find Lucas Black as a young man who moves to Japan to live with his uncle in order to avoid a jail sentence. There he becomes involved in the Tokyo underworld of drift racing.
Also on June 16 comes the film I have been most looking forward to: “The Lake House,” starring Sandra Bullock and Keanu Reeves. This remake of a celebrated South Korean flick tells the story of a lonely doctor who exchanges love letters with a frustrated architect through a mailbox in a house they are both currently living in, only they are living two years apart. I know it sounds kind of odd, but the trailer was really compelling and I've had a real soft spot for Keanu ever since “Sweet November.”
On June 23, we find Adam Sandler controlling his universe with a special remote control that lets him fast-forward and rewind life in “Click.” Summer would not be summer without a big superhero blockbuster. On June 30, “Superman Returns” to Metropolis after an absence of several years. Lex Luthor is back to his evil ways and Lois Lane might have just moved on.
That same weekend “The Devil Wears Prada” comes out. The “devil” is Meryl Streep as one of New York City's biggest magazine editors and Anne Hathaway (whom I can never look at the same since her breast-baring in “Brokeback Mountain”) is her new assistant.
The second installment of “Pirates of the Caribbean” will be released July 7. The whole gang is back and this time–Johnny Depp's Captain Jack Sparrow must pay off a blood debt to ghostly Davey Jones, or else be eternally damned. That same weekend we see Keanu Reeves showing up for a second time this summer as an undercover cop who is hooked on a popular drug, which causes users to develop split personalities. What is really neat/weird about “A Scanner Darkly” is that it was shot normally and then animated.
This year's “Wedding Crashers” is “You, Me and Dupree,” a comical tale about a recently married couple (Matt Dillon and Kate Hudson) whose newlywed joy is threatened when their best man (Owen Wilson) indefinitely moves in with them.
If “You, Me and Dupree” fails to deliver on laughs, I know a film sure to split sides–“Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby.” Will Ferrell plays a rebel NASCAR driver and that's all you need to know. It is about time that (a) Will Ferrell made another off-color comedy (I've almost forgiven him for “Kicking and Screaming” at this point) and (b) someone made some serious fun of NASCAR and the people who enjoy it. “Talladega Nights” will hit theaters Aug. 4.
Culinary review: A sweet little ice cream shop in Springfield
Emily Martin - Public Affairs Reporter
The days of May are quickly dissolving and soon many of us will be unbearably hot. When seeking a cool-down in Springfield this summer, skip Baskin Robbins’s 31 flavors and check out KaleidoScoops; they have 40 different varieties, and a pretty cool staff.
“We actually have the capacity for 44 flavors,” said KaleidoScoops owner LaJean Ligori. The little ice cream shop on South Dirksen Parkway is full of surprises. I left with a belly full of samples – Ligori says that is the best way to advertise – and a few fun facts for my brain to munch on.
The store’s ice cream comes from a dairy farm in Luttington, Mich., where Ligori said you could take a ferry to Canada, if you so desired. Once the cream becomes iced, and treated with wonderful little marshmallows, Tootsie Rolls or whatever delicious additive, it usually goes in a cone.
And the cone, I came to know at KaleidoScoops, was invented by a St. Louis man at the 1904 World’s Fair, when he ran out of cups selling ice cream. Who knew? Apparently these folks did.
It wasn’t just the insane blends of candy and frozen dairy that made KaleidoScoops my new favorite place, nor was it only the good conversation, something else was in the air at this area business.
Ah, yes, I smell a co-op. The store’s complete name is “KaleidoScoops and More” – the latter part signifying its freedom as a business and its distinction from other ice cream franchises. Ligori’s “More” consists primarily of appetizing baked goods, coffees and ice cream pizza. “I could sell hot dogs if I wanted to, and maybe I would if they didn’t smell so bad,” she joked.
Co-ops allow local business owners to modify what works best for them, said Ligori. Because they are not strictly bound with corporate mandates, owners can change menus, hours and prices to fit the store’s locale and the business owner’s lifestyle.
Although KaleidoScoops has regular hours regular, staying open 11 a.m. – 9 p.m. through the week, Ligori says she can close whenever she needs to. She just attended two graduations last week. “That is something I wouldn’t miss it for the world,” the shop owner said she normally stays open on the busy Mother’s Day weekend, but understaffing and special events made this time an exception.
After losing most of her frozen goods and perishable items in last March’s storms, Ligori said KaleidoScoops has had some hardships. Lucky for her, she said, a few friends come in to volunteer during their spare time.
“We come in on our vacation to do this!” Yvonne Mann smiled as she topped the day’s last ice cream cake. Mann said she helps at the shop whenever she can, and does not mind icing the cakes as long as she keeps pace with the fast-melting dessert. Her job is usually baking the red velvet, chocolate and white cakes that are later topped with one of the store’s many ice cream flavors and decorative frosting.
Another volunteer is Amanda Bly, a UIS alumna and admissions counselor at the university. Bly began working at the shop when she was 14, and today she volunteers. “I sometimes find that decorating cakes is kind of an attention breaker - it helps relives stress.” She said she loves working with the people at KaleidoScoops and the creative outlet it provides.
Almost everyone can find something suitable, and tasty, on the store’s menu. They have “kid” flavors (that some of us still secretly love) with super hero names and scary ingredients – “Play Dough” tastes better than it looks. They have dairy-free daiquiris and ice mixtures. They even offer a nice selection of “no sugar added” ice creams, smoothies and other health conscious concoctions upon request. And of course, chocolate, vanilla and mint chocolate chip are accounted for as well.
A conclusion may be necessary here: I like this place because it is different. I decided to stop here on my quest for a better ice cream shop because the employees chatted, force-fed me delicacies (OK, it was voluntary), and offered me a change from the ordinary. This is a business that steps outside of traditional corporate practices, with unlimited creative power and a fine tuned focus on the consumer. Mix the truly democratic flare of a co-op with equal measures of friendly staff and too good treats and you have a five star shop. A drive down Dirksen this summer may be in order.