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Learn to hike with the Outdoor You series at Champaign Surplus

If you look at the byline, you’re well aware that I’m a Chicago suburbanite. I played indoor sports for the most part and the closest that I’ve gotten to being an outdoorsy-type is when I’m on the ninth hole in the middle of July or the handful of times that I went to Bonnaroo.

Outside is great. I love it. But man, I have no idea what I’m doing out there by myself. And I don’t mean boating or hanging out at a beach. I mean hiking or mountain biking or other serious outdoor activities.

It’s not that I don’t want to do those activities, either. I really don’t know what I’m doing. The fear is that I’d end up like that guy in the movie that got stuck in the rock for a few days

Fortunately for me, Champaign Surplus is presenting the Outdoor You series. It’s a speaker series that’s geared towards outdoor recreation and and environmental sustainability and it’s for people like me. It’s not a class, it’s not a straight up lecture about the rules of hiking, it’s an opportunity for those who are experienced with outdoor recreation to share their experiences with those who could use a little more.

The next event is Thursday at 6 p.m., and it features a talk with TauSpotting about hiking for beginners.


OUTSIDE at the Research Park 2015 announced

Big news for music fans!

Per a Krannert Center press release:




June 12: Della Mae

July 17: Kilborn Alley Blues Band

Krannert Center for the Performing Arts once again joins forces with Fox/Atkins Development, LLC and the University of Illinois for a two-show series of summer concerts at the University of Illinois Research Park. Both concerts are free and open to the public. OUTSIDE at the Research Park plays upon a simple concept: great music, fresh food, and a green state of mind in open, relaxed environment. The performance space and seating area are located just south of the Atkins Building at the corner of First Street and St. Mary’s Road in Champaign. The tree-lined, grassy space has hosted thousands of audience members each summer since the inception of OUTSIDE in 2007. The 2015 OUTSIDE series will continue to demonstrate Krannert Center’s commitment to reduce waste, decrease energy consumption, and provide environmentally friendly services to patrons.

The July 17 event will feature a green fair that will invite sustainability-minded local businesses and organizations to take advantage of free exhibit space to share information about their green efforts. Interested parties can contact Lisa Lillig at 217.244.6298 or lillig@illinois.edu for more information.


Friday, June 12, FREE

Tara Terra at 6:30pm

Della Mae at 7:30pm

The night will start right with local artists Tara Terra who will usher in OUTSIDE with an upbeat and smooth pop-rock vibe, sprinkled with a bit of folk and jazz. As sunset approaches, Della Mae will take the stage. This dynamic, multi-faceted all-female force garnered a 2013 Grammy nod for the breakthrough album This World Oft Can Be. With an approach to traditional bluegrass that’s at once sensitive and assertive, firmly steeped in the past yet vibrantly original, Della Mae and their expansive musical vision have gained a place alongside such roots-conscious young acts as the Avett Brothers, Punch Brothers, the Lumineers, and Hurray for the Riff Raff.


Friday, July 17, FREE

Green Fair starts at 6pm

James Jones Trio at 6:30pm

Kilborn Alley Blues Band with special guests Corey Dennison and Gerry Hundt at 7:30pm

The second installment of the OUTSIDE series is a great precursor to ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival (coming September 10-12, 2015) and starts with the James Jones Trio, who will kick off the night with their refreshing take on traditional blues. Then, Kilborn Alley Blues Band tears into the stage with a mixture of gritty Chicago blues and southern-fried soul. The CU-rooted Kilborn Alley Blues Band “is a sophisticated, R&B-soaked throwback to 1950s Chicago. While their music is vintage, their attitude is defiantly current” (Living Blues).



Location, Parking, and Services

These concerts will be held just southwest of Assembly Hall on First Street in the Research Park. Free parking is available in the lot south of the Caterpillar Building at 1901 South First Street.

All performances are free and open to the general public.

Restrooms are available inside the Caterpillar/SAIC Building at 1901 South First Street.


Presented by Krannert Center, Fox/Atkins Development, LLC & the University of Illinois

Corporate Sponsors:


Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon



Champaign Cycle Co.

With thanks to the Illinois Natural History Survey/Prairie Research Institute


Uncork Urbana Wine Festival announces musical entertainment

The Illinois Grape Growers and Vintners Association and the Urbana Business Association are excited to present the second annual Uncork Urbana Wine Festival, scheduled for June 13th, 2015.

The festival will take place at Main + Race Streets in downtown Urbana, from 1–9 p.m. Attendees will have a chance to sample locally-made wine from up to 15 different vineyards. Food trucks will also be present.

In addition to wine and food, the festival will provide live entertainment throughout the day. Scheduled to perform are Katie Flynn, Kenna Mae, Ryan Groff (of Elsinore), Emily Otnes and The Diva & The Dude.

Admission to the festival is $10, which provides the attendee with a souvenir tasting glass and 5 tasting tickets, good for 5 samples of wine. Additional tasting tickets may be purchased for $1 each. Wine may also be purchased by the glass, bottle and case.


Merry Ann’s Celebrity Server & Chef Fundraiser taking place June 1st

Last year, Merry Ann’s Diner raised over $6,000 for charity during their annual Celebrity Server & Chef Fundraiser. This year, Merry Ann’s is raising their goal to $10k.

From 7 a.m. until 2 p.m. on June 1st at the Downtown location and June 2nd at the Neil Street location, all proceeds will be donated to the Unit 4 Summer Youth Employment Program.

If you’re a local personality or can’t attend but want to donate, you can do so here.


WCIA Anchor Dave Benton passes away

According to WCIA, longtime anchorman at Dave Benton passed away this morning. Condolences to his family and friends, we'll miss Dave's great reporting and wonderful outlook. 

It is with great sadness that we tell you this.Our friend Dave Benton died this morning at his home.He was surrounded...

Posted by WCIA 3 News on Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Next Triptych beer dinner will be at Prairie Fruits Farm

We attended the last Triptych beer dinner, which was held a few weeks ago at Big Grove Tavern, and had rave reviews. The next meal will be four-courses and will feature pairings of Triptych brews and food from Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery.

Triptych is happy to announce that our next beer dinner will be taking place at Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery! Join...

Posted by Triptych Brewing on Monday, May 25, 2015

New play by Mark Roberts reviewed in The New York Times

Following its debut at the Cherry Lane Theater, New Country — the most recent dark comedy by former C-U resident Mark Roberts — has received its review in The New York Times, courtesy of Neil Genzlinger.

In the review, Genzlinger praises cast member Sarah Lemp and has complimentary things to say about Roberts' acting as well:

Mr. Roberts, who also has logged time as an actor and a stand-up comic, gives himself the toughest job in the play as Justin’s gnarly uncle. Jim is crass and alcohol-soaked, yet he also has a poetic way with words and a back story laced with pathos. It makes for an inconsistent sort of character, but Mr. Roberts renders it deliciously, showing a real knack for deadpan comedy.

The play was directed by David Harwell, who, like Roberts, has presented work at Urbana's Station Theatre.

Read the full review below:



New basement art gallery in Downtown Champaign to open

Whoa. This is a really cool and ambitious idea coming from The Basement Gallery. There are very limited details, so we'll let the people behind the gallery tell you about it:

The space is open to visual artists looking to display their art and host a reception. The gallery can hold up to 20 pieces but can be modified depending on the artists' needs. The space has ample room for a reception and restrooms are available. As the name implies, the gallery is in a basement which provides a beautiful exposed brick backdrop for the art. Ok, Ok, but where is it? When you buy a ticket (modestly priced at $2) you get rendezvous instructions for the night of the show. Usually the artist will have set up something fun like a happy hour or scavenger hunt for the group before the show. During the activity, the artist will arrive and escort you through the oldest neighborhood in Champaign and to the gallery where you will enjoy the art, music, conversation, beer, wine, and snacks. We will be announcing our first show tomorrow afternoon so stay tuned!

Interestingly, Chris "Two Brainz" Smith is listed in the Artists' Profiles section of the site, so expect his work to be included somehow.


Auditions Saturday, May 23rd, for Station summer show

Per a Station Theatre release:


Saturday, May 23 from 2-5pm
Station Theatre
223 N. Broadway, Urbana

Director Tim O'Neal will be auditioning actors for this summer's production of a two-person show, Mary's Wedding, this Saturday, 5/23 from 2-5pm in The Station's lobby. He is looking for two actors in their 20s, a female and a male, and actors can audition with a prepared monologue or from cold readings from the script. Details of the production follow:

Show dates: JULY 2–18, 2015



Coinciding with the 100th anniversary of World War I, this love story opens on the night before Mary's wedding. Through a dream-like poetry, the play examines the endurance of love and the consequences of war.


Kamakura to close, reopen with new owners

We're a smidge late on this, as this Facebook post just came to our attention. But it appears that Kamakura will be closing at the end of the month and then reopening with new ownership sometime in July.

Kamakura has been serving the Champaign and Urbana area for 30 years! We were the first restaurant in the area and...

Posted by Jyunichi Niizuma on Friday, May 15, 2015