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Krannert Center hosting a series of TED talks this weekend

If you're a product of the 21st century as we all pretty much are at this point, there is no doubt that you are familiar with TED talks, where experts from various fields are invited to discuss their research, and apply it to a broad audience.

This Sunday, the TEDxUIUC series takes over Krannert Center for the Performing Arts for a full day of information, some of which will undoubtedly make you a more informed, better human being.

For more info, including tickets, check out the Facebook event here and the description below:

Every year, TEDxUIUC hosts an annual event on the University of Illinois campus to bring together our community and inspire each other through "Ideas Worth Spreading". This year, we would like to invite you to our largest event yet, TEDxUIUC 2017: Creative Chaos!

Applications are closed! Tickets are being sent to those who applied, so buy yours soon before prices go up!!!

This year's speakers embrace incredibly diverse ideals and perspectives through stories from their experiences working with the cutting edge of technology, crowdsourcing creative inspiration as a renowned author, designing tattoos for celebrities like Robert Downey Jr., and serving as a US Ambassador to nations around the world.

Join us on a unique journey as we bring creativity and chaos together to find meaning in our own stories.


Allerton Park hosting Forest-to-Mansion Dinner

Allerton Park and Retreat Center is hosting a five-course forest-to-mansion dinner on Sunday, May 7th. 

This is the third iteration of this event, and it's bound to be a charm. Five local chefs with forage for (some) ingredients, and create a course featuring items collected in the Allerton Park forest. Tickets are $95 per person, and can be purchased here

Here are the details:

Join us for the 3rd Annual Forest-to-Mansion Dinner! This year five great chefs will prepare a five course dinner highlighting wild ingredients collected from the forest and fields of Allerton Park. See how the best chefs in our area prepare wild morel mushrooms, wild ginger, American ginseng, stinging nettle, wild wood mint, and more.

$95/person. Make your dinner reservation here

Overnight accommodations in the Mansion are available for $90. Call (217) 333-3287 to reserve your room.

3:00pm – Cash Bar
4:00-7:30pm – Dinner and Cash Bar

Please note, collecting wild materials (including mushrooms) is normally prohibited, and will only be allowed for this special event.


1st Course
Whipped Salmon Rillette, Allerton Wild Ginger & Morel Mushroom Relish, Toast

2nd Course
Wild Allerton Ramp Gnocchi with Smoked Lamb Shoulder and Fried Morels

3rd Course
Pistachio and Allerton Stinging Nettle Flatbreads with Pickled Allerton Ramps, Prairie Fruits Farms Goat Cheese topped with a Truffled Fennel, Radish and Blood Orange Salad

4th Course
Sugar Grove Family Farm Berkshire Grilled Pork Belly & Sassafrass Root Braised Pork Butt - Foraged Morels and Ludwig Cheddar Grits, Dehydrated Wild Ginger, Stinging Nettle Stems, Sassafras Reduction, Pickled Red Bud Flowers

5th Course
Wild Allerton Japanese Knotweed Mousse, Rhubarb-Sassafras Jam, Butter Mochi Cake and Caramelized Skyr

About the Chefs

Alisa DeMarco – 1st Course

Chef Alisa DeMarco led the kitchen at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery for 8 years, where her farm dinners and breakfasts earned her a reputation for outstanding local and seasonal cuisine. Alisa learned the pleasures of eating locally at an early age, helping her mom in the garden, fishing for dinner in the river behind her house, foraging for mushrooms with her grandmother, raising her own laying hens and eating beef raised by the neighbors across the road. Her formal training at the Culinary Institute of America solidified her beliefs in seeking out the best ingredients and forming relationships with local farmers and artisans in order to do so. Alisa lives in Savoy with her husband Jeff and their son Cole. She enjoys gardening, yoga, music and anything and everything involving food and wine.

Drew Starkey – 2nd Course

Drew Starkey is the Chef/ Owner of Bacaro, which is a high end restaurant located in downtown Champaign. Chef Drew, who has been cooking for more than 14 years, is committed and passionate about using fresh local produce and meats provided by area farmers.

Ann Swanson – 3rd Course

Ann Swanson is the founder and Director of Operations at Hendrick House Farms. Hendrick House Farms consists of a three-acre vegetable farm, hydroponic facility and 1,000 sq/ft urban rooftop herb garden. Ann is a trained chef and spent the majority of her career in South Carolina, where she found her passion for farm to table cuisine. She is now committed to providing and educating students, cooks and the community on the importance of fresh, locally grown food.

Adam Shallenberger – 4th Course

Awarded Chef Adam Shallenberger is as local as they come. Raised in central Illinois and graduating from Mahomet Seymour High School, he returned home with his culinary finesse in 2013. A Le Cordon Bleu Atlanta alum, he honed his skill working in kitchens from Savannah, GA to Fort Worth, Texas. At Ellerbe Fine Foods serving as sous chef he helped achieve the Bon Apetit award of one of the Top Ten Best New Restaurants opened in America in 2010. He met his lovely fiancé, Madeleine, in Texas and they have a precious 5 year old son, Miles. Coming "home" and bringing the skills with it, he was the executive chef at 3 established local restaurants. Most recently he opened and was executive chef and General manager to V. Picasso. While there he participated in numerous charity events, winning the Central Illinois Artisans Cup, a fundraiser for The Land Connection. His style can be defined as southern comfort with bold flavors and unique ingredients. His next move has been to transition from the brick and mortar grind to his brand new food truck, FIRED, coming to Champaign this April. Be on the look out for his latest conquest and be surprised by the integrity of locally sourced and creative street food.

Mark “Shades” Hartstein – 5th Course

Mark "Shades" Hartstein projects include "Shady Dawgs," a mobile hotdog and sausage cart; "Saru Ramen," an infrequent ramen pop-up; "The Urbana Pickle Project," a private larder club; and (partnered with Leslie Bettridge) "CuSP: Champaign Urbana Smørrebrød Project," a Danish sandwich pop-up to raise funds for the Eastern Illinois Food Bank. He is currently the chef/owner of Watson's Shack & Rail. Stay tuned for the next adventure.

Photo from Facebook. 


Local engineer blows away Kickstarter goal with his incredible musical instrument

The Hyve Touch Synth is an innovative handheld synthesizer that responds to touch and movement. The 60-voice polyphonic analog synth is truly one of a kind. Its sophisticated circuitry is extremely user-friendly, enabling people of all ages to create a wide range of synth sounds and music with just a tap or swipe of the finger. The Hyve is also engineered with the capability of being hacked, so it can be tweaked with precision in order to meet the unique desires of any techie music fan. Yeah, it’s pretty cool.

Danville resident and creator Skot Weidmann is an engineer, musician, and educator who created a Kickstarter page to fund the proliferation of his Hyve Synth, and the result is the stuff of Kickstarter dreams. Starting off with a $20,000 goal on March 22, the project has almost quintupled its original target, and currently sits at a financial backing of almost 98,000 dollars. This project was so popular, it reached its going on the very first day - within FIVE HOURS. (Holy crap.) A large part of why this Kickstarter campaign got blown out of the water is the fact that it enables you to acquire your very own Hyve. Different levels of donation get you your Hyve in various states of construction.

Weidmann’s Kickstarter campaign, as of this posting, has 28 hours left. Let’s help him make it to an even $100,000.

Watch a demonstration of the Hyve in the video below. Get your hands on a Hyve (no pun intended) and donate to the cause here.


Mutt Strut 2017 to take place May 7th at Crystal Lake Park

The Champaign County Humane Society will be hosting it's annual Mutt Strut fundraiser on Saturday, May 7th. Check out the press release below for the all the details, including how to get yourself and your mutt registered for the event.


Dog Walk & Festivities Fundraiser

Urbana, IL. May 7, 2017: Grab your doggies and head on over to Crystal Lake Park from 4-7pm on Sunday, May 7th. Why? For a dog walk, some Triptych brews, and loads of fun – all to benefit the Champaign County Humane Society. Come have a go at paw painting, the doggie dress up station, see some shelter dogs in Project Ruffway, and much more! Register and start raising funds today to win the war against pet homelessness in our community. Register at or go to to learn more!


Maize is hiring for their Downtown Champaign location

Perhaps one of the biggest questions circling around the Champaign-Urbana restaurant scene over the last few years is: When is the Maize location in Downtown Champaign opening?

Well, per this post on Craigslist, it may be the closest it has ever been to hosting humans to eat there.

For a while now, this location — previously occupied by Cafe Luna — has been a host to their commecary for their incredibly-high-demand catering services. Also, you could rent the space for a party. They are just trying to keep up with that component of their business.

Is this an indicator that the location will be open soon? They are hiring a variety of positions for the Downtown Champaign location, so it looks likely.

Check out a few things while you're at it:

Per the Craigslist post:

Servers, Bartenders, Line Cooks, Dishwashers NEEDED at Maize (Downtown Champaign, IL)

We at Maize are dedicated to giving our guests the best service possible!
¡Somos una empresa dedicada a proporcionar excelentes servicios a nuestros huéspedes!

We are looking for experienced servers, bartenders, hosts, dishwashers, and line cooks who enjoy a fast paced environment, has a great attitude, great customer service skills, a willingness to learn and a good work ethic for our downtown Champaign location.
Full-time and Part-time wanted.
Estamos buscando servidores experimentados, cantineros, anfitriones, lavavajillas y cocineros de línea que disfrutar de un ambiente de ritmo rápido, tiene una gran actitud, habilidades de servicio de cliente grande, una disposición a aprender y una buena ética de trabajo para nuestra ubicación centro de la ciudad de Champaign.
A tiempo completo y medio tiempo querido.

Spanish language skills are preferred but not required!
¡Habilidades de la lengua española son preferidos pero no es necesario!

If you are interested in working in a fun and safe environment please EMAIL us a RESUME.
Emails WITHOUT a resume WILL NOT be answered.
Si usted está interesado en trabajar en un ambiente divertido y seguro por favor envíenos un curriculum vitae.
Correos electrónicos sin un curriculum vitae no serán contestados.

Photo from the Craigslist ad. h/t Kevin Miller on Facebook.


Upper Bout wins “Best Gear Photography” from

If you needed any more proof that Champaign-Urbana's local businesses are some of the best in the country, the good folks at have named The Upper Bout's photography as some of the best in the country, and quite frankly, I'd have to agree.

To read the full article, click over here, and check out the description below:

Whether it's every angle of a Paul Reed Smith Sonzera posed in front of chalkboard–painted wall or a walnut–stained Gretsch 6122 Reissue posed in front of their brick wall of guitars, this Champaign, Illinois based shop consistently takes drool–inducing photos of each piece of gear it lists.


Earth Week schedule of events organized by Students for Environmental Concerns

Next week is Earth Week, and the group Students for Environmental Concerns have scheduled a diverse slate of activities to educate the community on how to care for the environment. You can attend lectures and screenings, learn how to repurpose items, get your bike tuned up for free, swap out some clothes, and wrap up the week with the Sonified Sustainability Festival.

Find the full schedule of activities here.


WILL hosting marathon pledge drive for 26.2 hours today

If you care about your public media, and you should, WILL is hosting one its annual fund drives today, and a very little bit of tomorrow. Their goal is to reach a week's worth of fundraising ($100,000) in just 26.2 hours, a nod to the Illinois Marathon, happening this weekend.

For more information, including how to donate right now, read the description below and check out their site here.

Over the last several years, WILL has been working to be more efficient with fund drives. This year we’ve decided to try our boldest experiment yet, but it can only work with your help! The WILL Marathon is a community effort to support high-quality news, unparalleled arts programming, great classical music, essential early childhood educational tools and programming—with less on-air fundraising. In order to keep the focus on the programming you love, making sure more of it’s available to you, WILL is racing to fit a whole week’s worth of fundraising into 26.2 hours. Join us on April 12. Our goal is to reach $100,000 by April 13, and you can help us get a head start with your gift today at

Ready to join #TeamWILL? You can join right now!

Need more information? Check out the full WILL Marathon FAQ.

Click here to enter the WILL Marathon contest without making a gift.


Ebertfest debuts new website

With Ebertfest looming in the very near future (a week and a day, to be exact), it only makes sense that the festival, which is celebrating its 19th anniversary, gets a fresh new digital face.

While you are probably adept enough to do some poking around on your own, the site features some gorgeous shots of the Virginia Theatre, ticket sales, easy ways to plan your trip to C-U, and a historical archive of past festivals.

All of this can be yours if you just click this link, and check out the new


Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbor event April 22nd at Urbana Free Library

The local chapter of Muslim-American Society is hosting another Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbor event on Saturday, April 22 from 11am-1pm at the Urbana Free Library. That weekend is shaping up to be a busy one in C-U with all the running, movie-watching, and science marching, but taking a couple of hours to celebrate our community's diversity and meet some new friends sounds like time well spent to me.

See the full press release below, and check out Sam's stunning photography from last month's event.

The local chapter of Muslim American Society (MAS) is holding a “Get to Know Your Muslim Neighbor” event. This is a family-friendly event where local communities come together in a celebration of diversity and unity and that will provide you with an opportunity to meet new people, gain new experiences, taste delicious food, and enjoy conversation with local Muslims. We’ll be offering activities for all ages including hands-on crafts, a poster exhibit, and short talks on the contributions of American Muslims in the past and present. More information can be found in the attached flyer.

When: Saturday, April 22th, 2017
11:00 AM - 1:00 PM

Where: The Urbana Free Library
   210 W Green St, Champaign, IL
  Lewis Auditorium on the First Floor

More information can also be found at our facebook event. Feel free to share it with your family and friends:

For more information, please feel free to contact

Looking forward to seeing you and your friends at the event.