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Common Ground Food Co-op hosting ice cream social benefit this Sunday

This coming Sunday from 12-3 pm, Common Ground Food Co-op in Urbana will be hosting an ice cream social, with gelato provided by Prairie Fruits Farm. The event won't just feature treats, though - there will also be live music and activities for kids.

For more information, RSVP to the Facebook event here, and read the description below:



Common Ground is hosting its annual Ice Cream Social Sunday, June 25 from 12-3 pm on the porch in front of the store! There will be delicious Prairie Fruits gelato and Kilgus ice cream to top with any of the items in the buffet.

We will also have face painting for kids (and kids-at-heart), live music performed by Sambolo and Jason Reinglass, and more (stay tuned!).

There is no admission fee, but all donations benefit Eastern Illinois Foodbank, which is working to alleviate hunger in the area by providing food to local food pantries, soup kitchens and shelters. Learn more at Our goal is to raise 10,000 meals on this Sunday afternoon. We'd love to see you there!


U of I postpones south end zone renovations at Memorial Stadium

According to The Champaign Room, earlier today Josh Whitman announced that the proposed, $132 million renovations to Memorial Stadium's south end zone and horseshoe section would be postponed for the foreseeable future.

Instead, a new project (costing half as much) will take place at the Irwin Indoor Practice Facility, and add a new performance center.

As of right now, there's not any reason why resources were re-allocated, but I'm guessing a $132 million price tag was maybe too much to swing for an underwhelming football team in a state that has no budget, but that's just me.

Check out some tweets below:


Allerton Park releases camping details for Prairie Sky Music Festival

Camping, in an of itself, is enough to get someone excited - when you throw in a breathtaking location to the mix, it gets even better.

It's a very rare opportunity to be able to camp out at Allerton Park, in nearby Monticello, and it's even rarer that you'd be able to camp out at a music festival in one of the most beautiful natural areas in Central Illinois, yet here we are.

On August 18th and 19th, as part of Allerton's inaugural Prairie Sky Music Festival (whose lineup was announced last month), concertgoers will be able to camp on the grounds of Allerton Park for $20/tent and $50/R.V.

For more logistical information, check out Allerton's site here, and read the description below:

Camping reservations are limited and must be made in advance. All campers must purchase a Festival Pass. Make your reservations here.

Tent Camping: $20/tent. Each reservation permits one tent and two adults. $10 fee for each additional camper. Sites are unmarked and will be “first come, first serve” in the center circle of the Sun Singer.

RV Camping: $50/RV. Each reservation permits one RV and two adults. $10 for each additional person. Sites are unmarked and will be “first come, first serve” along the approach to the Sun Singer. Quiet generators are okay, but need to be shut off during quiet hours (12am-7am).

All sites are primitive. No power, water, or septic hook up. “Take only memories, leave only footprints!”

Check-in and set-up is Friday, August 18 from 3pm-7pm and Saturday, August 19 from 10am-7pm. Check-out is 11am on Sunday, August 20.

There will be a shuttle to the Main Stage (approx. 1.5 mile) every 15 minutes from 4-11pm on Friday and 10am-11pm on Saturday. Cars will be parked around the outer circle of the Sun Singer. Please keep trips in and out of the Park to a minimum. Cars will not be permitted to leave the area from 10pm-5am.

• All campers must purchase a Festival Pass.
• Must be 21 years or older to make a reservation. Although children are allowed to camp, we will not be enforcing quiet hours until 12am.
• Quiet hours are from 12am-7am.
• Camping wristbands will be provided and should be worn at all times.
• No alcohol is permitted to be carried in, you can buy it at the Festival.
• No open fires or charcoal grills. Small camp stoves are permitted.
• Site will be monitored, but Allerton is not responsible for lost or stolen items.
• Closest indoor bathroom facilities will be at the Visitor Center (approx. 1.5 miles away). There will be port-a-potties and limited water available on-site.
• No pets, please.
• All sales are final; no refunds. View the Concert cancellation policy here.

For more information on the Prairie Sky Music Festival click here.

Photo by the Allerton Park Photography Group


Spark Museum + Play Cafe opens in Urbana officially on June 24th

We posted about Urbana's newest children's museum, Spark Museum + Play Cafe, back in March when they had a tentative opening date of mid-May. That has since been adjusted and will officially open June 24th. The address of Spark is 142 Lincoln Square in Urbana.

UPDATE: Here's a press release:

New Children’s Museum Opening in Urbana-Champaign

(Urbana, IL – June 24, 2017)

Spark Museum and Play Café (Spark) will open at Lincoln Square Mall, Urbana, Illinois at 10:00 a.m. on Saturday, June 24.

Spark is a destination for families that combines diversified opportunities including innovation education, social interactions, play, entertainment, and café fare. Spark will exert substantial drawing power to Urbana-Champaign and beyond.

Spark is the first and only establishment in the region that combines active play, education, entertainment, and organic food options for children and families in Champaign County. It will quickly become a destination for play dates, a respite for parents, a place to engage with children and family, and all of the above through special events.

Spark’s primary focus is children's education, play, and healthy cafe options. Spark fills an equally important social need for parents and caregivers. Adults will enjoy free Wi-Fi, magazines, relaxing, socializing with friends, meeting new friends, and café fare.

Spark’s mission is innovation. All exhibits and programming are linked by the common thread of creative thinking and problem solving. Spark exhibits support the active child and curious adult with explorations in color, sound, light, emotion, music, balance, and dramatic play using established old-school practices as well as modern learning techniques. Spark activities challenge and develop children’s creativity, imagination, thinking skills, and social skills.

All visitors will enjoy a safe, clean, non-commercial and climate-controlled environment for children to learn, play and explore. Children will be given opportunities to develop basic motor skills, social skills, creative-problem solving, and self-confidence. Parents and caregivers will enjoy hours of close interaction with their children and other adults in stimulating and stress-free environment that is affordable, accessible and rewarding.


Spark is located in Lincoln Square in Urbana, Illinois. The space offers a barrier free entrance, convenient restrooms, and ADA-compliant ramps. There is ample free parking for patrons. Getting to and from the Museum is easy via automobile, CUMTD, bus, or bicycle.


To tour the museum, schedule interviews,  or obtain additional information please contact:

Sonya Darter, Executive Director,, (217) 721.8162

Megan Gillette, Associate Director,, (217) 649.8999


Sonya Darter, Executive Director

Ms. Darter has over 20 years’ experience in not-for-profit management, museum leadership, interactive and education events, exhibit design, and annual strategic and creative planning. Sonya has worked in multiple local museums and looks forward to serving and playing with community members at Spark Museum + Play Café. Additionally, Sonya has worked with Lumen Events on event management and planning services for corporate, private, and public events. Over the last several years, Ms. Darter enjoyed facilitating the implementation of transportation-related innovations to a national audience.

Megan Gillette, Associate Director

Ms. Gillette has a multi-disciplinary background in event management, graphic and environmental design, marketing, retail sales, and strategic re-branding of real estate properties. She is the creative force behind re-branding Lincoln Square Mall and The Prairie Glass House. Megan is contributing her expertise and skills towards Spark Museum + Play Café. Ms. Gillette’s experience also parlays on a personal level with weddings, corporate events, trade shows, and private parties.


As stated in The Case for Children's Museums developed by the Association of Children's Museums, children's museums are unique places that bring children, families, and communities together for quality interaction. Offering lifelong learning opportunities for audiences as tender as newborns, children's museums are vital cultural institutions.  Grounded in well-established pedagogy, children's museums are leading a movement that combines specific learning objectives with play in informal learning environments. As highly desirable meeting places and as proponents of play, children's museums bring a world of possibilities to families who want the best for their children.

Photograph credit for all images: © 2017 Leslie Lewis


Salad Meister announces Salads for Sprouts program

In what is certainly some good news, Campustown restaurant Salad Meister has announced a new Salads for Sprouts initiative, where they will donate healthy meals to area schools.

Donations will be collected, and a percentage of sales will go towards this venture, a phenomenal way to both promote healthy eating, and give options to those who don't typically have them. Area schools that would like to be included are asked to email a contact, found below, to enroll.

For more information, check out Salad Meister's Facebook post below:


Polyvinyl Records launches 10th annual Garage Sale

Hometown heroes Polyvinyl Records are back with their 10th annual Garage Sale, kicking off today.

Here, collectors and casual fans alike can find a huge selection of heavily discounted music that has been damaged, if only ever-so-slightly.

Pay a visit to the web page here, and check out what Polyvinyl had to say about the sale below:


Throughout the year, we find ourselves with a fair amount of CDs and vinyl records that were damaged in shipping. Sometimes our warehouse goofs and forgets to double box our vinyl when they ship it to us, and the corner of a record jacket is bent; occasionally the jewel case of a CD cracks or the corner of a digipak is crushed.

What do we do with the banged up product we receive? Well...that's how the idea of a garage sale came up.

Nearly all of the record jackets in the garage sale have some superficial damage to them. Some are worse than others and we've done our best to come up with fair prices based on availability and condition. In most cases, the albums are still shrink-wrapped meaning the vinyl inside is in pristine condition.

All CDs in the garage sale are guaranteed to be scratch-free and will play with absolutely no problem. Any CD normally in a jewel case will be sent in a plastic sleeve. The tray card and the booklet are both included and can easily be placed in a new jewel case. Any CD normally in a digipak will be sent in the digipak, just not shrinkwrapped.

If you are a die-hard collector whose record collection must be in mint condition, this is not the sale for you. If, however, you are looking to find some excellent gems at affordable prices - welcome home and happy shopping!

The sale is first come first serve and we cannot hold items back for anyone under any circumstances. Have fun browsing!


Champaign City Government 101 Academy registration open

Whether you are considering jumping into local politics in the future, or you're just interested in learning more about how our city government works, the City of Champaign is offering classes to fill you in on all that goes on in the day to day business of running a local government. From their website:

The Academy consist of 12 classes. Each class will introduce you to a new City department, including: City Council/City Manager’s Office, Finance, Human Resources, Information Technologies, Legal, Planning and Development, Public Works, Neighborhood Services METCAD 9-1-1, Police, Fire, and Library.  After attending the Academy, participants will have a better understanding of the intricacies of operating a municipal government and what it takes to support Champaign’s high quality, essential public services.

Classes meet on Mondays and Thursdays from September 14 to November 13. A meal is served at 5:30, and class begins at 6:00. It's free and open to anyone 16 years or older.

Find more info and the registration form here.


Seven years ago, your venerable Smile Politely editors went to Illini Inn and joined the Mug Club

Here's the article.

I can't sit silent about this. Our Managing Editor, Patrick — that silly sonuva — sent me this link, and it got me goin'.

Especially not during a week where Smile Politely and its current cast of crazies detail for you the BEST and the WORST of what's what in Champaign-Urbana-U of I-whatever. 

Fact is, the Illini Inn got torn down last week. Demolished. Pummeled. In a pile. Ripped to the goddamned ground. 

I have no doubt that the building was in disrepair, and that it was far more economically viable for Green Street Realty to tear it down, and build on the land. It's valuable land, no doubt. 

But in my heart, somewhere, somehow, you wish there was someone in some board room saying something like "Folks — this one stays. We'll build into it. We'll take the top floor off. But this one — this one stays."

Obviously, that didn't happen. 

And that, my friends, is the death knell of Campustown, as it once was, for many many years. Officially. That's that. The end. No more. Nothing. Literally, nothing.

OK. Campus Florist. Respectfully. Cookie Jar, Espresso Royale. OK. 

Fine — but really, nothing.

I drove by 6th and John the other day and saw that the That's Rentertainment logo still remains on the awnings that now host an all too familiar and ubiquitous Asian grocer. Believe me, I am thankful. One of the greatest things that C-U has is its Korean-Chinese-Japanese, etc. presence. 

But it's still hard to look at. That logo. So powerful. So unique. It's still hard to remember the way Campustown used to be, and how it used to literally bind the community together. Literally. It's not something that didn't happen. 

I hear there will be a new iteration of Illini Inn, one for the next era. I call bullshit. The only thing — the ONLY thing — that Illini Inn had was its ghosts. Ghosts leave once the walls come down. Now, it will be just another place that dads come to and say "I was member 23,455 at this place — sure isn't like it used to be." And then chug. Oh, they are gonna chug. They are gonna chug 'til it's ready to go to the game, or to the party they shouldn't be at. They will chug. They will chug like you do when you are young and you think to yourself, "I am gonna chug this fuckin' beer."

RIP Campustown. I'd give anything to shove $7.00 of quarters into Ghosts 'n Goblins at Spaceport, buy some bootleg live CD of Nine Inch Nails at Record Swap, pet the cat(s), and make my way over to the old Zorba's for fake college gyro.

The kind I really, really like.