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Allerton Park hosting Garden Party on May 21st

One of the best things about having Allerton Park so close-by to Champaign-Urbana is undoubtedly the limitless party potential of the grounds. Sure, the hiking trails are great and the statues are unlike anything else you'll find in central Illinois, but partying, now that's something I can put my chip down on.

If you want to do just that, Allerton will be hosting a Garden Party on May 21st from 3:30 - 6:30 PM. Tickets are $80 and will include live music, a couple of drinks and food. $40 of that is a tax deductible, as well.

For more information, be sure to check out Allerton's site here, and some more tidbits below:

We’re revamping and expanding this year’s Garden Party Fundraiser! Spend a Sunday afternoon strolling through Allerton’s Gardens – with live music, drinks, and food along the way. Mingle with friends, start-up a game of croquet or bocce ball, and watch the plein air artists create their masterpieces. Unique auction items will be up for bid, including one-of-a-kind arrangements from area florists, exclusive Allerton events and merchandise, and more. As the afternoon winds down, take a seat in the Meadow to enjoy local favorites Pies by Inge and Prairie Fruits Farm gelato.

Grab your hat and join us to celebrate – and support – all things Allerton!

Tickets are $80/person and must be purchased in advance. $40 of your ticket price is a tax deductible donation. (Includes a complimentary ‘welcome’ Mint Julep and two drink samples. Cash bar available.)

Purchase your ticket here.


Register your doggo for the 2017 Mutt Strut

The Champaign County Humane Society's 2017 Mutt Strut is next Sunday, May 7th from 4 to 7 p.m. at Crystal Lake park in Urbana. Today and tomorrow (April 28th and 29th) you can get a $5 discount on your registration by entering code rm38. Regular price registration is $25 until May 5th, and $35 day of. 

The 2017 Mutt Strut will feature beer by Triptych, doggo activities, prizes, live music, and food trucks. It's bound to be fun for the whole family, perhaps most for your furry creature. 

This event is a fundraiser for CCHS, and an important one, too. So make sure your dog is up-to-date on vaccines and get registered

For more info, and a list of all the activities and contests, check out the event's website


News-Gazette union employees losing jobs due to outsourcing staging picket

Per an informational newsletter from AFL-CIO of Champaign County, some union employees from the News-Gazette are losing their jobs — ones outsourced to Peoria. While this might not come as a surprise to most based on the current publishing climate in print — the employees are staging a picket in front of the N-G building in Downtown Champaign in order "to get greater community awareness about the situation and hopefully get a fair severance."

Check it out:

Recently, a member from Teamsters Local 568M, Graphic Communications Conference, came and spoke at the AFL-CIO meeting about how the News Gazette is outsourcing their jobs to Peoria, and they are all losing their jobs. Some of these workers have been there for decades, and at this time they are seeking a severance package that appropriately acknowledges their years of loyal and dedicated service. Local 568M is holding an informational picket on Saturday April 29, 2017 from 10am-2pm in front of the News Gazette at 15 Main St. in Champaign. They asked if we could support them by getting people out to their informational picket. Their goal is to get greater community awareness about the situation and hopefully get a fair severance. 

As a related bonus, this is just down the street from the Black Dog Smoke & Ale House Champaign location. Friday April 28 - Sunday April 30 is Union Weekend at Black Dog in Champaign. In order to say "Thank You!" to Black Dog for building this location with 100% Union labor, we want to give them our business. Tell your server that you are a union member and would like to be entered into the raffle for a chance to win a $50 Black Dog gift certificate. So hit up the picket, then go get some BBQ! 

Thanks for your time,

Kevin Farrell


AFL-CIO of Champaign County

CFT Local 1925


Blues, Brews, and BBQ Festival announces 2017 lineup

This year's Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival has announced their lineup and full scope of programming for this year — which now takes place at Market Place Mall (2000 N. Neil Street, Champaign). It'll take place on June 23th and 24th this year.

Check out the Facebook event for the full scoop, but here's a little bit regarding location and music:

Join us this summer as we celebrate 10 years of fantastic blues music, refreshing brews, and that sweet, sweet, savory BBQ at Champaign-Urbana's one and only Blues, Brews & BBQ Festival!! 

We've got one of the best lineup the festival has ever seen, new BBQ vendors and much much more coming your way this June! Keep an eye on this page for announcements, VIP ticket sales, vendor, staff & volunteer signups, sponsors and everything Blues, Brews & BBQ! Festival information included below.

* * * NEW LOCATION!! * * *

This year the festival will be located in the Old Theater Parking Lot on the North East corner of the Market Place Shopping Center property located at 2000 N Neil St. in Champaign, IL 61820. As many of you know the festival has been bursting at the seams in downtown Champaign for the past few years and we are happy to announce that we have secured a larger venue area that will allow us plenty of room for future growth! This new location provides us with almost three times the area of our former downtown location and provides our vendors, guests, & staff the opportunity to park within a stone’s throw from the festival grounds and we can’t wait to see you all out there!

Time: On Friday, June 23rd, the festival gates will open at 3PM and the festival grounds will remain open to the public until midnight. On Saturday, June 24th, the festival will reopen at noon and remain open until midnight.

Main Stage Lineup!

Friday, June 23rd:
3:00 - 4:40 : WEFT Community Radio
5:00 - 6:30 - Robert H. Sampson
6:50 - 8:20 - Toronzo Cannon Chicago Blues-man
8:40 - 10:10 - Bernard Allison
10:30 - Close - Dirty Dozen Brass Band

Saturday, June 24th:
12:00 - 2:00 - WEFT Community Radio
2:25 - 3:55 - Kevin Cory
4:15 - 4:45 - Dinosores Motorcycle Club Awards Ceremony
5:00 - 6:30 - Candy Foster
6:50 - 8:20 - Selwyn Birchwood Band
8:40 - 10:10 - Mr. Sipp " The Mississippi Blues Child "
10:30 - Close - Robert Randolph & the Family Band


Triptych Brewing tapping two new beers for Chambana Craft Beer Pub Crawl launch party

This year marks the 7th iteration of the Chambana Craft Beer Pub Crawl, and starting tomorrow (Thursday, April 27th), you'll be able to buy your tickets for the event, happening on May 21st.

To celebrate the launch of ticket sales, naturally, craft beer fans will be happy to know that Triptych Brewing, one of C-U's meccas of craft beer, will be tapping two new beers at their brewery in Savoy. What this means is that you'll be able to drink awesome locally-made craft beer while buying tickets to drink even more craft beer across town in May. What could be better?

For more info, check out Triptych's Facebook post below, and RSVP to the event here.


Giertz Gallery local artist exhibition submission deadline extended to May 4th

If you're a local artist, you will want to be sure to check out Giertz Gallery at Parkland College's latest community exhibition, Around the Block II: Artists from our neighborhood, which has just extended their submission deadline to Thursday, May 4th.

For more information on the exhibition, and how you can enter, check out the press release below:

Deadline has been extended to Thursday, May 4th!


After such a successful turn out for the first time around, Giertz Gallery and 40 North are gearing up for version 2.0.

Entry is open to all artists 18 years and older residing in Champaign County and counties within the Parkland College 505 district. Submitted works may be in the following disciplines: painting, sculpture, ceramics, metals, drawing, printmaking, photography, textiles, video and mixed media.

Juror: Gisele Atterberry, Art History teacher in the Fine Arts Department at Joliet Junior College

Online Submission Deadline: May 4, 2017

Acceptance Notification: May 15, 2017

Delivery of accepted artwork: Friday, June 9, 10 am-6 pm, or Saturday, June 10, 10 am to 1 pm

Entry fee: $20 (up to three works with maximum of one accepted)

Show opens June 19 and runs through August 9, 2017

Visit for complete details and online entry form.


CONFIRMED: Nick Offerman is the U of I’s 2017 Commencement speaker

Per the University of Illinois' Twitter account, they are dropping a huge hint for who will be the commencement speaker:

They're announcing at 4 p.m., so we'll keep things updated when we find out more. But Pawnee, Indiana is a direct reference to Offerman on Parks & Recreation. So, it seems obvious, as he's an alum, and has spent time here recently. Read Seth's interview with Offerman here.

While it isn't exactly Barack Obama, this is a pretty awesome thing to hear, if true.

UPDATE: 4:10 p.m.

Per the U of I News Bureau — it is confirmed: Nick Offerman will be this year's commencement speaker:

Actor, humorist, author and woodworker Nick Offerman will give the commencement address at the University of Illinois on May 13. Offerman is a 1993 graduate of the U. of I. in theatre.

Photo by Joseph Brumleve

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — Illinois alumnus and actor, humorist, author and woodworker Nick Offerman, best known for his role as Ron Swanson on the NBC hit comedy series "Parks and Recreation," will be the U. of I.’s commencement speaker Saturday, May 13. The ceremony is 9:30 a.m. in Memorial Stadium.

Offerman is a 1993 graduate of the U. of I. in theatre. A native of Minooka, Illinois, Offerman learned basic carpentry from his father. He used these skills in building sets in the scene shop at the U. of I. While a theatre student, Offerman enrolled in a Kabuki theater class taught by Shozo Sato, the founder of the U. of I.’s Japan House and a professor emeritus of art and design. He flourished in the class and became close to Sato, traveling to Japan with Sato's Kabuki troupe.

After graduating, Offerman moved to Chicago, where he and a group of U. of I. students founded the Defiant Theatre, an experimental acting company. Offerman continued to build scenery and props for large unionized theaters to supplement his meager acting income.

Offerman began earning feature film roles and bit spots on TV shows, including “ER,” “24,” “Deadwood,” “The West Wing,” “Will & Grace,” “NYPD Blue” and “Gilmore Girls.” He also continued work as a carpenter, building cabins and decks. His breakout role came as the taciturn bureaucrat Ron Swanson in “Parks and Recreation.”

His work also includes TV roles on “The Simpsons,” “Fargo,” “Bob’s Burgers” and “Drunk History,” and in films, including “We’re The Millers,” “Sin City,” “21 Jump Street,” “22 Jump Street,” “Smashed,” “The Lego Movie,” “The Founder,” “Me and Earl and The Dying Girl,” “Kings of Summer,” “A Walk in the Woods” and “The Men Who Stare at Goats.” His most recent project is a six-episode reality series he’ll host with Amy Poehler called “The Handmade Project,” which will feature a competition among artisans and makers.

Offerman received a Television Critics Association Award for his role in “Parks and Recreation” and a Critics’ Choice Television Award for his role in the FX series “Fargo.”

“Nick Offerman found success as an actor and also found a lifelong mentor while an Illinois theatre student,” said Chancellor Robert Jones. “His story is an example of the power of a U. of I. education to shape the lives of our students and help them find their place in the world. He has maintained close ties with his alma mater, and he’s done it all with a sense of humor. We’re proud to have him serve as our 2017 commencement speaker.”

Last October, Offerman released his third book, “Good Clean Fun: Misadventures in Sawdust at Offerman Woodshop,” a New York Times bestseller. His series of humorous publications began with “Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living” in 2013 and “Gumption: Relighting the Torch of Freedom with America's Gutsiest Troublemakers” in 2015.

Offerman continues to operate his woodshop in Los Angeles, where he and a team of woodworkers build handcrafted canoes, fine furniture and other items. He built a gazebo, made from salvaged California old-growth redwood, on the grounds of Japan House to honor his teacher Sato.

Offerman visits campus for special events and fundraisers to benefit his alma mater. He was on campus April 1 for a “Whiskey, Wood & Barbecue” fundraiser for Japan House that included a raffle of items from Offerman Woodshop. He brought his “American Ham Tour” to Krannert Center for the Performing Arts in 2013 as a benefit for Japan House.

Information about commencement, including convocation and reception details, ticket distribution and parking, can be found at or through the commencement app at

And here's his announcement via U of I's Twitter:


UPDATED: State Rep. Carol Ammons making announcement via live stream today

I'm not going to say I called it just yet, but things are looking more and more like I called it.

Our very own State Rep. Carol Ammons has just announced, via an email blast from The People's Agenda, that she will be holding a very special announcement via her Facebook Page this afternoon at 12:15 p.m.

While there is room for speculation, it is largely postulated that this means Ammons will officially announce her intent to run against everyone's favorite MIA US Representative, Rodney Davis, in 2018.

While we can't say that for sure just yet, be sure to check out the live-stream at the link above at 12:15, and find out what the announcement is.

For more information, check out the email blast below:

Please log on to my Facebook page tomorrow at 12:15 pm for an exciting announcement! I will be speaking at the Illinois Women March on Springfield rally. After my announcement, I will need you to take action.

Log in tomorrow at 12:15!

Thank you,

UPDATE: 12:56 p.m.

State Rep. Ammons has announced that an "exploratory committee" will be formed, and she's wanting to hear from you about whether or not she should run for the 13th District seat vs. Rodney Davis. (PS)

Here is the proper press release:

Rep. Ammons Announces Exploratory Committee for Congressional Bid
Vows to listen to voters across the 13th District and then make final decision

SPRINGFIELD, IL : Rep. Carol Ammons announced the formation of an exploratory committee at the Women’s March on Springfield to formally decide whether she will challenge Congressman Rodney Davis in 2018. This decision followed weeks of encouragement from constituents and conversations with her family. 

Ammons said: “I’ll be listening to voters throughout this district, not just Democrats. I’m heading to small towns, university communities, and manufacturing cities. I’ll be listening to everyone: coal miners, students, manufacturing workers, service workers, professors, farmers, and more.”

“During this exploratory phase, I’ll learn about our district and its community member, as well as their expectations for their next Representative. I’ll learn about their jobs and their schools, their struggles and their successes,” Ammons added.

“Following weeks of listening, I’ll decide if it is in the best interest of the 13th District for me to run for Congress,” Ammons said.

Background on Rep. Ammons

● Currently: IL State Representative for the 103rd district

● Formerly: Champaign County Board Member & Urbana City Council Member

● From: Joliet, IL - has lived in Champaign County for the past 17 years

● Lives in: Urbana, IL with her husband, Aaron Ammons


Kessler Optical stocking EYEVAN glasses from Japan

For the visually-inclined, one of the best local businesses in town is Kessler Optical, who stocks one of the biggest (and coolest) collections of eyewear in C-U.

Last week, they announced the stocking of a special spring collection from EYEVAN, a Japanese eyeglass frame company, and have included some new sales to boot. It's always nice to see a connection between Champaign and larger global trends, but it's even neater when that connection involves a locally-grown business.

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