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Watson’s will now serve brunch every Sunday

Brunch is a big deal in Champaign-Urbana, and everybody knows it. Over the course of this year, Watson's Shack and Rail in Downtown Champaign has been pumping out an awesome monthly brunch, paired with bluegrass music to match. This has been so successful, that now, they're going to expand into the weekly brunch game, offering their awesome fare every single Sunday, starting June 4th.

For more information on what you can expect every week, check out what Watson's had to say below:


Starting Sunday, June 4th we will open our doors EVERY Sunday for brunch, dinner, & our exclusive patio parties. The official Sunday hours for the shack will be 10 AM – 9 PM with our kitchen operating from 10 AM – 2 PM and 4 PM – 9 PM.  The bar will remain open through both brunch & dinner service. 

The last Sunday of the month will be dedicated to Bluegrass & Burgers with a special, limited menu available in place of our regular brunch menu. Our friend Sam Payne will join us for a live performance either indoor or out on the patio (weather permitting) from 12 PM – 2 PM for these events.

Summer menus & our first brunch menu will be released via our website shortly! Thank you for your continued support through all of this. We are looking forward to seeing you all at the Shack this summer!

Watson’s hours of operation:

Tuesday – Thursday: 4 PM – 10 PM

Friday: 11 AM – 2 AM

Saturday: 4 PM – 2 AM

Sunday: 10 AM – 9 PM

*Bluegrass & Burgers last Sunday of every month!

**Lunch EVERY Friday!


City of Champaign and SBDC win Roger Luman Program Excellence Award

It is no doubt that Champaign seeks to foster small businesses, from a personal standpoint and from a governmental standpoint, and today, they've won an award for just that.

The City of Champaign and the Illinois Small Business Development Center at the Champaign Count Economic Development Center have been awarded for their continued efforts to make small businesses viable for entrepreneurs.

For more information, check out the press release below:

SBDC and City of Champaign Win Program Excellence Award

CHAMPAIGN, IL, May 23, 2017 – At the end of the 2017 Illinois Entrepreneurship and Small Business Growth Association (IESBGA) Conference, held May 17-19 in Champaign, the Illinois Small Business Development Center (SBDC) at Champaign County EDC was awarded the Roger Luman Program Excellence Award.

The award recognizes the City of Champaign’s Small Business Incentive Program, a collaborative effort by the City of Champaign and SBDC to target new and existing small businesses by offering financial assistance for legal, financial, marketing, and training expenses.

As of May 19, 2017, more than thirty SBDC clients have enrolled in the Small Business Incentive Program and the City of Champaign has committed up to $230,000 in matching and educational grant funding to these clients. These businesses provide important benefits to the community in such industries as retail, foodservice, healthcare, contracting, professional services, information technology, and agricultural technology, among others.

“We’re honored to receive this award,” said Don Elmore, Director of the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC. “I want to thank Bruce Knight, T.J. Blakeman, and Tina Ansong in Champaign’s Planning and Development Department for their roles in developing this program, as well as the Champaign City Council for recognizing the value of providing key financial support to emerging and existing small businesses.”

Bruce Knight, the City’s Planning and Development Director thanked the awards committee, stating “the Champaign City Council has a goal to promote economic opportunity and provide support for small businesses, and it would not have been possible to achieve that without our collaboration with the SBDC at Champaign County EDC. We want our community to be one that is inviting for entrepreneurs and accommodating to new small businesses and we very much appreciate being recognized for our collective efforts to support small businesses starting on the right path.”

The greatest benefits of the Small Business Incentive Program are connecting new and existing businesses in Champaign to the services provided by the SBDC and providing financial assistance to allow these businesses to use critical professional services they may otherwise believe they cannot afford. While the program does not limit participation to underserved members of the community, the location- and income-based incentives provide even more benefits to this group. This is an important benefit to both the City of Champaign and the SBDC.

About the Roger Luman Program Excellence Awards:

The Roger Luman Program Excellence Awards were created to recognize outstanding, innovative and best practices in the programs and services offered by member centers. These awards recognize specific programs developed by centers to meet a particular identified need and not the overall program or services offered by a center. It is intended that this awards program will facilitate the sharing of information regarding these programs with other IESBGA members resulting in their replication, and will be used to promote the excellence of Illinois small business assistance programs to small businesses and to similar small business assistance programs administered in other states.

The award is named in honor of Roger Luman who was the Managing Director of the Turner Center for Entrepreneurship in the Foster College of Business Administration at Bradley University. As a founding member of IESBGA, he coordinated the Program Excellence Awards for many years. The award looks to recognize those organizations that embody Mr. Luman’s dedication to supporting small businesses in their communities. Learn more at

About the Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC:

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC is part of America’s Small Business Development Center Network, the most comprehensive small business assistance network in the United States, and provides information, confidential business guidance, training and other resources to start-up and existing small businesses.

The Illinois Small Business Development Center at Champaign County EDC is funded through a cooperative agreement between the U.S. Small Business Administration, Illinois Department of Commerce, and the Champaign County Economic Development Corporation; with additional support provided by EDC of Decatur and Macon County and the Midwest Inland Port. Learn more at


Check out the curriculum for First Federal’s Sprouts at the Market 2017 season

First Federal Savings Bank is teaming up with Urbana's Market at the Square again this year for their annual Sprouts at the Market series, where they provide an opportunity for kids aged 3-8 to try a variety of fresh foods as they traverse through the Saturday market.

Sprouts at the Market will take place once a month for the duration of Urbana's Market at the Square. To find the full curriculum, check out the schedule and descriptions below, via Market at the Square's website:


May 20, 2017: From Seed to the Stem
Learn about a plant’s growing cycle, plant seeds to start your own garden, and sample parts of plants you may never have thought to eat!

June 17, 2017: Know your Farmers, Know your Food
Learn the benefits of local food versus food that has traveled a long distance and sample food grown right here in Illinois.

July 15, 2017: Sprouts Shop the Market
Kids will get to decorate a tote bag and get a $2 voucher to use that day to shop for their very own fruit/vegetable item at the farmers market.

August 19, 2017: Sprouts Explore the Senses
Learn about the five senses and take them on tour of the fresh produce available at the farmers market.

September 16, 2017: Great Sprouts Exploration?
What is round, red, and people think I’m a vegetable but I’m really a fruit? Explore the market to find all of the clues to help you solve various puzzles just like this one! Children will receive a prize for completing the Great Sprouts Exploration.

October 21, 2017: Sprouts Food Science Lab at the Market
There is a lot of science behind farming and our Sprouts are going to learn all about it as they take part in three experiments using food! This is one chance when we strongly encourage children to play with their food!

Sprouts at the Market was a program developed with the help of Jennifer Hewitt and former Market Director Lisa Bralts. The program curriculum is now developed by local registered dieticians Ginger Reeser and Alex Lundquist, in collaboration with current Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez.

For more information please contact the Market Staff.


Neutral Cycle announces Bike Fit Program

Now that it's getting warm, and you can actually go outside without your face hurting, it's about time to get your bicycle out for the season, if you haven't already. Along the way, you may find that a winter of non-use has left your bike in relatively bad shape.

That's where Neutral Cycle's new Bike Fit Program comes in, where they tune up your bike to custom specifications, all in one visit.

For more info, check out this description and interview with a Neutral customer, Elizabeth Bastian:

Neutral Cycle recently launched it's Bike Fit program, giving community members and professional cyclists alike the same high quality custom fit to their bicycle. This service helps prevent injury, increase commuter's comfort, strengthen race performance, and build perfect cycling form. This service has multiple levels depending on what you ride, how frequently you ride, and if you'd like to become a competitive cyclist.

1. How long have you been a cyclist?

I've been a serious cyclist for about 3 years, since I moved here. I grew up in Michigan just outside of Detroit, and mostly biked only to get to friends' houses.

2. When did you decide to become competitive and/or serious about biking?

I moved here and sold my car 3 years ago. When I sold my car, I decided I was going to bike everywhere.

3. Why do you love biking?

I think about the Susan B Anthony quote about women on bicycles.
Let me tell you what I think of bicycling. I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world. It gives women a feeling of freedom and self-reliance. I stand and rejoice every time I see a woman ride by on a wheel…the picture of free, untrammeled womanhood. I love getting on the bike and feeling the wind in my hair. I feel so much better getting off my bike than I do getting out of my car.

4. What does you average cycling workout look like?

Mostly I ride to commute and get around town. I'll get in touch with some friends and take a joyride around town, maybe take a brew tour. I'll go on longer rides on the weekend.

5. How many miles do you clock a week?

50-60 miles per week. Mostly commuting. Definitely higher in the summer.

6. Have you ever suffered any injuries over the years biking?

Definitely some injuries from running over the years, never cycling. A lot of the time it would be one thing that would develop into another. I'd twist my ankle which would lead to hip pain or something similar. Mostly hip flexor issues.

7. How has getting the Trek basic hybrid women's step-through bike changed the way you ride?

With it, I can go so much faster now. I thought 'this is what biking is supposed to feel like'. I've always felt like I was a faster cyclist and now I can really keep up with anybody.

8. How has getting a Bike Fit changed the way you ride?

I feel much more comfortable riding after my fit. Small discomforts seem to have disappeared, and I feel much more confident on my bike.

9. Would you recommend a Professional Bike Fit to your fellow cyclists or even daily commuters?

Yes, I would totally recommend a bike fit to any kind of bike enthusiast! As a bike advocate, I think it is so important for people to feel comfortable and confident on a bike to begin to see it as a via means of transportation. A bike fit can be crucial to establishing that sense of security on a bike, and to eliminating the potential for discomfort. I mostly use my bike for commuting or for longer, easy-pace weekend rides in the area; but without the fear of pain after riding, I am so excited to try out more strenuous biking activities!

10. If you could cycle anywhere in the world where would it be?

My immediate thing that I'd like to do, maybe this summer, is the GAP trail greater allegheny something. Pittsburgh to DC, so it is definitely pretty doable. I'd like to ride the 101 someday. It'll take a lot of hills training but I think I can get there. The bike is perfect for touring so I definitely want to take advantage of it!

11. What do you hope to achieve with the bike fit?

I would like to be more comfortable and confident on this bike. Going from my old bike to this was awesome but a little intimidating, so the knowledge that the bike is specifically fit for me will give me a lot of confidence.


Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival 2017 has been canceled

After announcing their lineup for the 10th anniversary of the festival, Blues, Brews and BBQ has decided to not move forward on this year's installment of the event.

Citing financial concerns and other elements of planning — you can read their full statement here:

Here's the text:

It is with the deepest sadness that we have to make the following announcement…

The Champaign Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival is difficult to manage and an expensive process to deliver. We’d love nothing more than to put the 10th anniversary event together for everyone but it’s just not financially viable. With that said, we have made the very difficult decision not to proceed with the festival in 2017.

We have all worked very hard at building a great music event for our community so the last thing we wanted to do was to cancel the show or push ahead with anything less than an amazing event. Decisions like this are really tough to make and we have spent a long time considering all of our options. We had to consider our costs to date as well as our patrons and their experience, and felt we wouldn’t be able to deliver an event that would represent the Blues, Brews and BBQ Festival name properly.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank the amazing and generous team of people that have worked so hard for many years to make the past nine events happen. We extend our thanks to the numerous sponsors, artists, agents and talent that have helped us throughout the years. We also want to express our sincerest apologies to the artists that were supposed to appear this year, we are very sorry we could not make this work and absolutely hate that we cannot go on.

Most of all we want to say thank you to all of our loyal fans and friends that have supported us over the past nine years… you made the Champaign Blues, Brews and BBQ so incredibly special while it lasted and we will miss each and every one you. Thank You!!

While the future of the festival remains unclear, we'll see if they decide to come back to the table in 2018.


“Shoot/Don’t Shoot” simulation to be held at Willard Airport on May 23rd

EDITOR'S NOTE: It has been brought to our attention that this event is not open to the public. Apologies for any potential confusion. (PS)

As part of a two-day seminar on police shootings in the United States by the University of Illinois, Willard Airport will host a "Shoot/Don't Shoot" simulation at 8:30 am on Tuesday, May 23rd.

For more information on what this entails, check out the full press release below:

‘Shoot/Don’t Shoot’ simulation to be held May 23 at Willard Airport

CONTACT: Craig Chamberlain, Social Sciences Editor 217-333-2894;

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — A “shoot/don’t shoot” simulation will be held Tuesday (May 23) at the University of Illinois Willard Airport, Savoy, as part of a two-day seminar on police shootings in the U.S.

The seminar is being hosted by the U. of I.’s Cline Center for Democracy, in partnership with the university’s Police Training Institute, as an early step in a Cline Center effort to create a comprehensive national police shooting database, making use of the center's expertise in data collection and analysis.

The seminar will involve about two dozen participants from a variety of backgrounds and perspectives, including academic researchers, law enforcement professionals and representatives from the NAACP and ACLU. (See list of participants in the attached document.)

The “shoot/don’t shoot” exercise is designed to simulate decision-making challenges faced by law enforcement. Groups of seminar participants will be guided through the exercise by PTI instructors and role players.

Prior to a safety briefing that will precede the simulation, news media can seek permission from participants who wish to be filmed or who are open to interviews.

Three groups will be taken through the simulation, with the event scheduled to end at 10:30 a.m.

For questions about the seminar or database project, contact Cline Center Director Scott Althaus at 217-265-7879 or For questions about the simulation, contact PTI Director Michael Schlosser at 217-244-4200 or


The Land Connection announces “Weed Dating” event on June 1st

No, it's not what you think it is. But it is pretty funny.

The Land Connection, famous for their Downtown Champaign farmers' market, will be hosting a "Weed Dating" event on June 1st, starting at 6 pm at Delight Flower Farm, just north of Urbana.

The event, which does NOT include illegal recreational drugs, is an opportunity for singles to meet each other while helping to pull weeds at one of Champaign-Urbana's most unique farms.

For more information, including how to register, check out the official press release below:

Weed Dating returns to Champaign County

CHAMPAIGN, Ill. — The birds are chirping and the bees are buzzing as Weed Dating returns to Champaign County. Starting at 6 pm on June 1, local singles can head out to Delight Flower Farm in Champaign, for a fun evening helping to pull weeds while meeting new people (who aren’t afraid to get their hands a little dirty!). The Land Connection is planting the seeds of love and friendship in the rows of a local flower farm by hosting our agricultural spin on speed dating. “The best thing about it is that because it’s something different, you meet different kinds of people,” says Jeff McGuire, who participated in the inaugural event in 2014.

The evening will start with participants meet at the farm for a drink and some brief introductions. Then, after a short farm tour and instructions from farmers Maggie, Liz, and Holly, the group will be split into pairs to work together to tackle the weeds growing in a row and get to know each other. After 5-10 minutes, everyone will switch partners and spend some time chatting and weeding with a new person. At the end of the evening, everyone will meet back at the barn for refreshments, drinks, and a chance for more socializing.

This event is open to people 21 or older of all orientations as a fun way to meet people with similar interests in local food and agriculture, find new friends, and maybe even something more. Will you find love amongst the weeds?

Registration is required and costs $10 which covers locally sourced refreshments, including Prairie Fruits Farm gelato! BYOB is encouraged. Visit to register and learn more.


Annual Ride of Silence bike ride taking place tonight at 7 pm

This year's annual "Ride of Silence" bike ride kicks off at 7 pm tonight from the iHotel Conference Center parking area. 

The ride will be completely silent, slow-paced, and will bring attention to those that have been lost cycling on our roadways. It should also serve as a reminder that cars need to share the road with bikes.

For more information, check out the quote below:



The Ride of Silence is part of a national event occurring in cities throughout North America. See for more information.

The purposes of this ride are to be a memorial for those who have been injured or killed due to unsafe riding situations and to raise awareness that bicycles and cars are to share the road.

Join us in a silent, slow-paced ride (max. 12mph, aprox. 8 miles). The ride leaves from the parking lot at Houlihan's (corner of First and St. Mary's) -- feel free to arrive early to eat and socialize.  We will traverse through downtown Champaign and Urbana. Following the ride, socialization can continue at Crane Alley.


Urbana’s Market at the Square to offer double LINK benefits this year

It's a sad fact of American society that fresh and affordabe food generally don't go together. This summer, however, Urbana's Market at the Square and Farm Credit Illinois are joining forces to change that by offering double SNAP/LINK benefits for the entirety of this year's market season.

For more information, check out the press release below:




Urbana’s Market at the Square has received a combined $12,500 in funding from Farm Credit Illinois and LINK Up Illinois to directly support the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) program.
In Illinois, SNAP benefits are loaded onto a card called LINK. Customers may then use their LINK card at the farmers market to purchase eligible items including produce, meat, dairy, honey, bread, and food-producing plants. While the Market has accepted LINK since 2010, this year marks one of the largest awards ever received by Urbana’s Market at the Square to support the SNAP Double Value program. The SNAP double value program is currently underway for the 2017 season.

“Both of these organizations do incredible work for the people in our community and their support is so very much appreciated,” said Market Director Natalie Kenny Marquez. “Farm Credit Illinois, along with LINKUp Illinois, have made a huge contribution to the farmers market’s efforts to expand access to healthy local food. They were instrumental in helping Urbana’s Market at the Square to distribute a combined total of $21,500 in SNAP and matching funds during the 2016 market season. Thanks to these very generous organizations, Urbana’s Market at the Square will be able to better connect the broader community to local farmers and local food and make a positive impact on our local economy.”

“Farm Credit Illinois is proud to partner for a second year with Urbana’s Market at the Square to provide double value on SNAP purchases,” said Beth Bolger, industry engagement manager Farm Credit Illinois. “This program enhances the value the market already provides to the farmers who sell their agriculture products there weekly, as well as the entire community in support of our local foods system.”

For more information about using SNAP at Urbana’s Market at the Square, and about the SNAP Double Value program, please visit, or contact Natalie Kenny Marquez at or 217/384-2319. For more information about Farm Credit, visit


Urbana School District announces free lunches this summer for those 18 and younger

It's no secret that food insecurity is no joke, and that many students who attend schools, even right here in Champaign-Urbana, rely on those lunches for nourishment. In the summer time, those meals seemingly vanish, which is why the Urbana School District has announced that it will offer free meals to those under 18 years old for the better part of the summer months.

From June 5th through July 13th (Monday - Thursday), free meals will be available at various Urbana schools allowing for much-needed help for those who require it.

For more information, check out the press release below:


Urbana – Urbana School District #116 will once again participate in the Seamless Summer Food program sponsored by the federal government.  Free meals will be offered Monday through Thursday during the month of June and part of July at one location.  Breakfast and lunch are offered to all children, 18 years of age or younger regardless of enrollment in summer school or home of record. As with last year, hot breakfast and lunch will be offered at all of the locations. The meals will be served for the public at Urbana High School, Urbana Middle School, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary, and Dr. Preston L. Williams Jr Elementary during the following times (Monday through Thursday only):

Urbana High School (1002 S. Race St., Urbana)
June 5 through July 13, (no meals on Tuesday, July 4)
Monday - Thursday
Breakfast: 8:30am to 9:15am
Lunch: 12noon to 12:30pm

Urbana Middle School (1201 S. Vine St, Urbana)
June 5 through June 29
Monday - Thursday
Breakfast: 8:30am to 9:15am
Lunch:  12:15pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Elementary School (1108 W. Fairview Ave, Urbana)
June 5 through June 29
Monday - Thursday
Breakfast:  8:15am to 8:30am
Lunch: 12:30pm to 1:00pm

Dr. Preston L. Williams Jr Elementary School (2101 E. Washington St., Urbana)
June 5 through June 29
Monday - Thursday
Breakfast:  8:30am to 8:45am
Lunch: 12noon to 12:30pm

Please note: there will be no meals served on Tuesday, July 4.  When available, the menus will be posted at

Free meals will be made available to all children 18 years of age and under or individuals over 18 with a state-defined mental or physical disability.  Free meals are made available to all eligible participants without regard to race, color, national origin, disability, sex or age.  The U.S. Department of Agriculture prohibits discrimination against its customers, employees, and applicants for employment on the bases of race, color, national origin, age, disability, sex, gender identity, religion, reprisal, and where applicable, political beliefs, marital status, familial or parental status, sexual orientation, or all or part of an individual’s income is derived from any public assistant program, or protected genetic information in employment or in any program or activity conducted or funded by the Department. (Not all prohibited bases will apply to all programs and/or employment activities.) Any person who believes that he or she has been discriminated against in any USDA-related activity should write immediately to:  USDA, Director, Office of Civil Rights, 1400 Independence Avenue SW, Washington, D.C.  20250-9410 or call (800) 795-3272 or (202) 720-6382 (TTY).

For more information about the program, please contact USD #116 Chief Financial Officer, Carol Baker at 384-3642.

Urbana School District #116 is a unit district located in east central Illinois. Our outstanding schools in an outstanding community comprise of an early childhood school, six neighborhood elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and an adult education center.  To discover more about our award winning schools and students, please visit You can find us on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter: @Urbana116.