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The CSA Fair is March 2nd at Lincoln Square Mall

This year's CSA Fair will be held from 5 to 7:30 p.m. on March 2nd at Lincoln Square Mall/Common Ground Food Co-op. The event is sponsored by The Land Connection, Common Ground, and Urbana's Market at the Square/City of Urbana, and will take place during Imbibe Urbana's First Fridays.

The fair is an opportunity for you to meet local farmers and sign up for community supported agriculture (CSA). CSA options include produce, of course, but also meat, cheese, and flowers. 

Last year my CSA produce offered some of the best bites I had in 2017. If you're around during the late spring and into early fall, a weekly CSA is an easy way to incorporate more local fruits and veggies into your diet. 

For an idea of what to expect, check out our guides to CSA 2017 and CSA 2016. Additional inforomation about the March 2nd event is available on Facebook


Silvercreek has a wine dinner set for March 15th

Silvercreek is offering up another wine dinner next month, this time featuring selections from Kenefick Ranch in Napa Valley, CA. I've had the pleasure of participating in a few of these in the past, and they certainly make for a lovely evening of good food and good wine. With five courses and five wine pairings, it's definitely worth the splurg for a fancy date night or gathering of friends in the greenhouse. You can contact (217) 328-3402 for reservations. 


Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh now open in Illini Union

Garbanzo Mediterranean Fresh, a Mediterranean fast-casual restaurant chain with twenty-plus locations nationwide, is now open at the Illini Union (1401 W Green St, Urbana). C-U in seriously lacking in Mediterranean food options, so this is a very welcome addition, even if I might have to brave the U of I campus and student union to get some. 

The fast-casual concept is one you're familar with: pick your base, add your protein, veggies, condiments. Some menu highlights include pitas, gyros, falafel, baklava, tzatziki, and tahini sauce. Take a look at the menu for more details. The restaurant has halal certification.

For more info and some drool-worthy photos, check out Facebook.

Photo from Facebook. 


Art Remastered event at the Krannert Art Museum on February 23rd

The Krannert Art Museum will be hosting their Art Remastered event on February 23rd at 7 p.m. This event, which is meant to “break the quietness” of the museum, invites you to attend performances by local musicians who have composed music in reaction to pieces of art at the museum. These musicians were able to walk through the museum with Kamila Glowacki, the museum’s education coordinator and the organizer of Art Remastered. They selected the pieces that they were drawn to and have written something that fits their own style and genre of music in response. At the event, you’ll walk through the galleries with the musicians to their chosen piece of art, and they’ll perform alongside it, allowing you to “focus on the performances but still be looking at and engaging with the artwork, in kind of a unique way.”

Click here for a full article on how and why the event is coming together.

Here’s a breakdown of the musicians that will be performing, provided by Glowacki:

CJ Run
CJ Run is a singer, rapper, and songwriter whose influences include British hip-hop, RnB, and electronic music. CJ is best known for their engaging performances that give a voice to experiences and reflections that are both personal, yet relatable. Since moving here, CJ has become a huge part of the Champaign-Urbana music community, performing in local spaces ranging from the Pygmalion Music Festival to Girls Rock Camp benefit house shows.

Sharon Li
Sharon is best known for her role in Jarring, a band that is a staple in CU’s DIY music community and stay’s true to the emo roots in CU’s music scene history. Pulling away from the fuzzy, math rock riffs and heavy-hitting drums of Jarring, Sharon will be performing in a stripped down solo setting, showcasing her earnest voice and impactful lyricism.

Keegan Gulick
Keegan Gulick started out as a solo performer in the CU DIY music scene, but has since moved on to leading the charming lofi fuzzpop band Ghoul Jr. With the combination of the shy sweetness in Keegan’s vocals and lyrics as well as bouncing guitar riffs, Keegan’s performances will make you want to be his best friend!

Teddy Lerch
Teddy Lerch is a talented guitarist and songwriter whose mastery over several instruments and effects pedals gives him a palette of sound textures at his disposal. Teddy’s current projects include bands ZXO and Shazu, ranging from psychedelic and melodically intricate ambience to heavy sludge rock.

N. M. Garcia
N. M. Garcia’s gentle voice and gorgeous layers of harmony, guitar effects, and delicate melodies swirl together and leave listeners with the peacefulness and thoughtfulness of looking upon light playfully reflecting off of water. Garcia’s lofi sound increases its intensity in his other project, Windmills, with the addition of drums and loud guitars pairing with intriguing vocal melodies.

Olivia Tasch
Olivia Tasch is an acoustic folk songwriter and guitarist. The softness and subtle twang of Olivia’s voice creates charming and engaging songs about subjects that speak to the small town environment of central Illinois. Olivia is also a member of the Chickadee Sermon, a harmony-based acoustic folk band that utilizes delicate instrumentation.

And here’s the website and Facebook page for the event.

Photos taken by Veronica Mullen at Art Remastered at Krannert Art Museum, 2017.


Urbana Park District is participating in The Great Backyard Bird Count this weekend

This Saturday, February 17th, between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., you can hang out with people at Anita Purves Nature Center and Busey Woods and count birds. Seems like a rather insignificant activity, but it's actually part of a nationwide event: The Great Backyard Bird Count, taking place over four days this week. According to the national website, "scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, to get the “big picture” about what is happening to bird populations." 

So get out there in nature, count some birds (and learn more about them in the process), and be a part of a broader scientific event. And right now, it looks like it's going to be 40+ degrees and sunny on Saturday...downright balmy. More details below from their Facebook event page:

Guided Hikes at 10am & 3pm | All Ages; under 15 with adult

Help with conservation by counting birds. Anyone can participate - count for as little or as long as you wish! Record the birds you see through the windowed Wildlife Observation Room and during guided hikes. Instruction in bird identification will be provided. Dress for the weather, and bring binoculars if you have them or borrow a pair at the nature center. Free activity stations will also be available. To learn more about this annual four-day-long nationwide event, visit

Photo from Facebook.


“Give Kids a Smile” free dental clinic at Parkland on February 17th

Parkland College's Dental Hygiene Clinic will host a free "Give Kids a Smile Day" dental clinic for youths ages 1–17 on Saturday, Feb. 17, from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Room L148.

Treatment provided will consist of a free dental exam, cleaning, fluoride, dental sealants and educational activities for children. No appointment is needed.

"Give Kids a Smile Day" is sponsored by the Illini District Dental Society in partnership with Parkland College's Dental Hygiene program and the SmileHealthy Dental program through Promise Healthcare.

Individuals interested in this special event may contact Peg Boyce at 217/351-2386 or for more information.


Vinny’s Pizza is moving to Campustown

Vinny's East Coast Pizzeria, currently located at 401 West Kirby Avenue, Champaign, is moving to a new location on Green Street. The restaurant's Kirby Avenue location will remain open through February 28th. It's been open on Kirby Avenue since 2009. 

The News-Gazette reported that Vinny's will reopen on March 15th at 50 East Green Street, under the new name Vinny's by the Slice and More. The new location will have a few parking spaces, and offer more "gourmet" pizza options, as well as pizza by the slice. 

Photo by Jessica Hammie.


Smile Politely seeking Food & Drink writers

Smile Politely is always welcoming new writers into the fold, and that, of course, includes our Food & Drink section. Being a town with a plethora of dining and drinking options, there is constantly much to cover.

We want to add your voice to the Food & Drink section.

What's required? You should have a mild grasp on food culture, and be curious enough to explore C-U's local culture. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part. Prospective writers must be able to take at least 6 high quality photos to accompany their features. Smartphones take great photos these days, so you don't need to have a fancy DSLR. 

Perks of being a Food & Drink writer include, but are not limited to:

  • Going to restaurants and providing a take on your experience for our readers.
  • Eating foods and drinking drinks, which isn't out of the ordinary, we hope.
  • Earning (a little) extra spending money.
  • Pick up some valuable writing experience along the way.

If this sounds like something you're interested in, fire off an email to