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Jarling's Custard Cup named best ice cream shop in Illinois by Business Insider

All kinds of lists happening over the past 24 hours, this time from Business Insider, which put together a list of "The best ice cream shops in every state". The publication listed Champaign's own Jarling's Custard Cup as the "best" for Illinois:

ILLINOIS: Jarling's opened in Champaign in 1983 as a full-service soda fountain and desserts destination. The flavors are traditional, and the shop also specializes in waffles (with or without ice cream).

We're obviously fans of Jarling's because it is kind of the best (and the worst). So on that accord, congrats to Jarling's — they are, afterall, a C-U institution.

We will say though — isn't an ice cream shop, more like an ice milk shop, and definitely not custard.

A House of Lies, if you will.

Thoughts? Agree or disagree? What other stops in Illinois are worth discussing?

Photo by Jess Hammie. h/t to Visit Champaign for the tweet.


Allerton Park featured in Huffington Post's "Most Underrated Tourist Attraction" list

People love lists. Sure, they are all over the place, all of the time — but when they get a little more specific and focused, I can deal with it. It's pretty cool to see things like this, and get to know a bit more about some hidden gems across the United States.

When it comes to Illinois — there are a wide array of options and destinations, sure. Huffington Post just published a list of "The Most Underrated Tourist Attraction in All 50 States", and Monticello's own Allerton Park was listed for Illinois. Check out the list linked above, and discover somethings about other states while you're at it.

From Huff Po: 

Robert Allerton Park
Touted by some as the Midwest's must beautiful park, this 1,500-acre meticulously landscaped estate's grounds were dreamed up by the industrialist and philanthroper Robert Allerton, who transformed them into a fantastical series of gardens bedecked with Neoclassical statues and Far Eastern art.

I mean, check out that photo of that statue — just one of many aspects of Allerton — beautiful, isn't it?

Check out our very own Sam Logan's piece on Allerton's Sun Singer statue here as well.

Photo by Sam Logan.


High-speed rail in Illinois moving forward, Champaign stop in the mix

There's been talk of a high-speed train being developed and built out in Illinois for quite some time, but according to Time Out Chicago, things could be happening fairly soon. The rail would connect Chicago to Champaign — making a trip from Union Station to Champaign a mere one hour. That's bananas.

From the article

The Illinois Senate passed a resolution on Sunday urging Governor Bruce Rauner and IDOT to prepare "an investment grade ridership analysis" for such a high-speed rail project. If acted upon, the resolution could bring about a study capable of attracting federal and private investments that would help bring the Midwest's rail system into the 21st century. It also calls upon Congress to pony up $2.5 billion for the project.

Check out the map:

This would be an incredible jump forward for transportion in Illinois, no doubt about it. Though it is interesting to see that the Illinois Senate is "urging" Governor Rauner to prepare for it. We shall see.


Merchant Street Music Festival returns to Kankakee

Merchant Street Musicfest is a two-day music festival taking place in Kankakee July 24th & 25th. It might be worth the drive to check it out — for $5 each day, there will be three stages of music, as well as food and drink vendors. Locals Rebecca Rego & The Trainmen are playing on Friday, and headliners include The Fifth Dimension featuring Florence Larue, and The Ohio Players. Check out the full lineup below and see the website (linked above) for directions and more details.


Happy hour ban in Illinois could be lifted soon

Good news for fans of happy hour (bar owners and patrons alike), but things could be changing: The happy hour ban could be lifted soon in Illinois.

Per The News-Gazette, legislators approved the bill to reinstate happy hour, though there are still some steps to be taken to make this a reality. Here's what it means, if it passes:

Under the act, restaurants and bars could offer discounted beer, wine and spirits for up to 4 hours a day or 15 hours a week. They would still be prohibited from offering volume discounts, such as 2-for-1 specials, or happy-hour deals after 10 p.m. And they would have to advertise specials a week in advance.

So, what happy hour specials should bars be offering in C-U if it passes?

Photo by Patrick Singer.


SP EIC Emeritus Chris Maier’s Little Salon gathering serious buzz in D.C.

As a community magazine, people come and go constantly from SP — which is kind of a positive thing about it from which to begin. People move through this community and keep things flowing. New writers, editors, and all of that, all the time. It keeps things fresh.

Editor-in-Chief Emeritus and co-Founder of SP, Chris Maier, was recently featured for the growing trend of Little Salon which has been creating some buzz in the Washington, D.C. area. Though this article was published about a month ago, it's definitely worth mentioning here.

Check out some of the information below, and go ahead and read the whole thing (linked above):

On a Tuesday night in July, in a Harvard Street NW rowhouse that looked like any other, Charlie Nilles hoisted his 35-pound bass over a sea of people chatting and drinking wine on the staircase, filling the living room and spilling into the kitchen and foyer.

Nilles gingerly set the instrument down next to Mark Evans' cello. All heads turned toward the string musicians, both members of the National Symphony Orchestra and a smaller ensemble, the LeDroit Chamber Players. They picked up their bows and glided into "Duo," a piece they'd transcribed for cello and bass. The room fell silent. The wine-drinking paused. There was no icy glow from a cell phone. The entire crowd was mesmerized by the musicians, close enough to touch, serenading them in the middle of a Columbia Heights row house.

This is the magic of Little Salon.

Conceived by fiction writer Chris Maier (below), Little Salon brings high-quality art to informal settings, with no ticket prices or exclusive invitations. Next month, the event will celebrate its first anniversary of monthly gatherings in D.C. residences.

At the July show, the "stage" between the fireplace and makeshift wine bar featured poetry, another piece by the LeDroit Chamber Players (this time, a Béla Fleck song originally composed for banjo), and short fiction.

“A lot of us arrive at genres of art with preconceptions of what that art is supposed to be, and how accessible it's supposed to be, and who it's supposed to be made for,” Maier said. “If we can challenge those things, and do it in a fun, conversational, unpretentious space...it's good for everyone.”

Good stuff, Chris!


Great tips on how to start hiking and exploring the outdoors

For those that find the gym routine to be a little drab, there’s a great alternative to hitting the treadmill. Hiking outdoors is not only a powerful cardio workout but includes a nice view, fresh air, and the sounds and smells of nature.

If you’re just getting into this adventurous outdoor activity, here are a few tips that can help you get the most out of your hike:

Start slow and build up your hike:
A short hike, close to home is best for beginners. Gradually work your way up to trails that are a bit longer or ones that include more difficult terrain.

Look to step it up:
Uneven terrain works muscles all while improving balance and stability. Even small hills will intensify your workout and help burn those extra calories.

Pack a bag:
Get a day pack for shorter trips or a larger one for multi-day hikes. If you’re just going for a short local hike, a hydration backpack might be the best option. It’s important to have everything you may need in case of emergency, including plenty of water, first aid pack, food, and a cell phone. This extra weight will also help strengthen your back muscles while you hike.

Make it a routine:
Even on the days you can’t make it out to your favorite trails, power-walk around the nearest hilly terrain while carrying your pack. This will keep your muscles ready for your bigger hikes

Know the safety rules for hiking:
At first, don’t hike alone, especially on unfamiliar or remote routes. A friend or group can help you navigate and assist you if you get injured or need help. As your skills improve, you’ll feel more comfortable going alone. When hiking solo, always remember to familiarize yourself with the trail map ahead of time and check the weather so you can pack the proper equipment. However, no matter how prepared you are, it is vital to always let someone know where and when you will be hiking. Never head out alone without first notifying a friend or family member as to where you will be and for how long.

Local hiking trails:

Homer Lake Preserve
Meadowbrook Park
Allerton Park
Kickapoo State Recreation Area
Turkey Run
Lake Mingo Trail
River Ridge Backpack Trail, Forest Glenn Preserve
Moraine View State Park

With Memorial Day weekend right around the corner, we want to encourage everyone to get outside and be adventurous! Whether that means taking a family camping trip, going on a weekend backpacking excursion, hiking the local trails or simply relaxing in a hammock in your own backyard, Champaign Surplus has the gear and advice you need to get it done!

The massive CampTastic Sale starts today and runs through Memorial Day! From tents and sleeping bags to backpacks and hiking boots, you’ll find everything you need to have a happy, campy summer at amazing prices.

Shop the CampTastic Sale now at 303 S. Neil St, Downtown Champaign or www.champaignsurplus.com.


Change.org petition by C-U’s Chris Green is crushing it, 100K+ signatures and counting

You might know Chris Green. He's pretty much one of the best dudes there is, like, anywhere. He knows I'd say this to his face, too. He's just one of the best. 

As Seth mentioned once before, he's been in and out of Champaign for years, and when he's not hanging out with Lady Gaga, he's fighting the good fight for defense of animals around the world, amongst other really cool things.

Anyway, this something that's worth noting — as his petition on Change.org now has over 100,000+ signatures for the fight to end transporting exotic animal hunting trophies on airlines

His letter is to the following:

CEO, Delta Air Lines Richard Anderson
Delta Air Lines
President, Delta Air Lines Ed Bastian
Executive VP & COO, Delta Air Lines Gil West
SVP & Chief Communications Officer, Delta Air Lines Kevin Shinkle

Please follow the lead of South African Airways and end the transport of exotic animal hunting trophies

Amazing work, Mr. Green. Incredible that it has that many signatures and is moving swiftly across the internet. 

We're behind you, pal — plus we've dipped into this sort of thing in the past. We're looking at you, Jimmy.

One last thing, for kicks: