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U of I Community Credit Union eliminates foreign transaction fees

For anyone who travels internationally (or dreams of the day they'll be able to travel internationally), the U of I Community Credit Union has just revealed some pretty awesome news: they'll be eliminating foreign transaction fees for all cardholders.

This is pretty exciting news, as bigger banks have consistently dinged their customers for using their debit/credit cards outside of the United States, and thus any service that offers an alternative is certainly exciting, and will make life easier for a ton of C-U residents who will go on to spend some time out of the U.S. in the future.

From UICCU's Release:



Now use your Illini Visa Rewards Card with EMV chip technology anywhere in the world with the same ease and security you enjoy at home.

Need another reason to get away? Earn 10,000 points when you spend $500 within the first 30 days.

No Fees

NO Balance transfer fees
NO Cash advance fees
NO Foreign transaction fees
NO Annual fee


Lineup announced for bluegrass festival at The Great Pumpkin Patch

Mackville Bluegrass will be hosting the Chet Kingery Memorial Bluegrass Festival on Saturday, September 3rd, at The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur. They've just released the lineup for the fest, featuring five acts that will all perform twice, so you're guranteed not to miss out on the tunes.

This is an excellent chance to get a preview of how things are growing over at TGPP before their season officially starts. I can almost smell the pie just thinking about it.

Check out the official press release for more information:

Chet Kingery Memorial Bluegrass Festival

Arthur, IL – September 18, 2016 – Mackville Bluegrass will be hosting the 4th annual Chet Kingery Memorial Bluegrass Festival on September 3, 2016, at The Great Pumpkin Patch in Arthur, IL. Bands will be picking from noon to 10:00pm.

The festival line-up features Grammy winner, Doyle Lawson and Quicksilver, as well as Michael Cleveland and Flamekeeper, Blue Mafia, Samuel Payne and host band, Mackville. Each band will perform twice, once in the afternoon and once in the evening.

Catch a glimpse of The Great Pumpkin Patch just before its season opening, while listening to the rootsy sounds of Bluegrass.  Instrumental workshops, vendors and food will all be available. Come experience the music that tells a story through blissful harmonies and acoustic accompaniment that evokes the ideal Bluegrass spirit.

Tickets for the event are $20 in advance and $25 at the gate.  Children 16 and under are free with a paying adult.  Tickets can be purchased online at or by calling 217-460-1439.
The 200 Acres, located in rural Arthur, Il, includes The Great Pumpkin Patch, The Homestead Seeds and The Homestead Bakery. The Great Pumpkin Patch welcomes thousands of visitors every year and boasts over 300 varieties of homegrown pumpkins, squash and gourds from over 30 countries. The Great Pumpkin Patch is open to the public September 15th through October 31st. The Homestead Seeds is a cucurbit seed business dedicated to growing, selling and sharing the stories of rare and unusual cucurbit varieties, while The Homestead Bakery specializes in providing made-from-scratch baked goods to the communities in the Arthur area, as well farmer’s markets nationwide. The Bakery is open year round and the Seed store can be found on

For more information, contact:

The Great Pumpkin Patch

1749A CR 1900 N

Arthur, IL 61911



You have one week to perfect your Snoopy dance or Sondheim solo

Or both. 

Parkland Theatre will hold open auditions for the first two shows of its 2016-2017 season Saturday, Aug. 27, at the Miner Theatre from 1–4 p.m. Auditionees can register at the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre lobby. Callbacks, if needed, will be Sunday, Aug. 28, at 6 p.m. No appointment is necessary to audition. All members of the community as well as Parkland and U of I students are invited

First Lady Suite is a historical musical about the women behind (or beside) the men of the White House. Director Stephen Fiol is looking for 1 baritone to sing 2 male characters and a half-dozen or so ladies that range from sop to mezzo-sop to general voice. He's looking for range, musicianship, acting, projection and clear diction. What says that better than Sondheim? 

(Editor's Note: a bunch of women are going to pick "No One Is Alone" from Into the Woods or "Everything's Coming Up Roses" from Gypsy. Maybe dig a little deeper?) 

A Charlie Brown Christmas is the stage adaptation of the TV special you loved growing up. Director Latrelle Bright is casting 5 females, 5 males, and an additional male or female (aka Snoopy -- ed). All ages, abilities, sizes, ethnicities and orientations are encouraged to audition. Audition will consist of a 1-minute monologue and 18 bars of a song (ballad or upbeat); participants should wear comfortable clothing and be prepared to move (because Snoopy dance -- ed). Rehearsals begin Oct. 24. 

More questions? Email  


Performances for First Lady Suite will run in Parkland Theatre's Second Stage Oct. 6–23. Performances for A Charlie Brown Christmas will be held in the Harold and Jean Miner Theatre Dec. 1–11.



Unit One / Allen Hall announces artist-in-residence schedule

Living in the residence hall that's at the heart of the University of Illinois' arts community has a lot of advantages, but you don't need to be a student to partake in many of the benefits. Each year, several guest artists live in the hall for the majority of a week, holding nightly events, many of which are open to the C-U community. It's a fascinating chance to meet and get involved with artists from many different disciplines and to explore things you might not normally seek out. 

The 2016-17 schedule is as follows: 

September 11, 2016 – September 15, 2016
Drew Matott and Jana Schumacher are paper artists focused on healing and therapeutic use.

September 18, 2016 – September 22, 2016
Tristan Taormino is an award-winning author, columnist, editor, sex educator, and adult filmmaker.
September 25, 2016 – September 29, 2016
Magdalena Gómez is the author of Shameless Woman, a memoir in poems.
October 23, 2016 – October 27, 2016
Kevin Reader earned his Master of Arts in Theatre from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
January 22, 2017 – January 26, 2017
The Andrew Alden Ensemble is a contemporary and electronic chamber music group from Detroit, Michigan who have performed previously at the Art Theatre. 
February 5, 2017 – February 9, 2017
N’Jelle Gage-Thorne is a dancer and is co-founder, president, and choreographer of FuturPointe Dance, a genre-bending dance theater company based in Rochester, New York. 
February 19, 2017 – February 23, 2017
Meredith Scheff-King is a writer, hardware hacker, cartoonist, sculptor, and kinetic artist.
March 5, 2017 – March 9, 2017
Valarie Kaur is a national interfaith leader, award-winning filmmaker, and civil rights advocate who centers her work around the power of storytelling.

Friday Night Live adds fourth location to lineup

Friday Night Live, an outdoor seasonal event featuring various bands playing on the streets of downtown Champaign, has added a location to their lineup. For the last two Fridays, there will also be music to catch on the corner of Main and Chestnut in front of Exile on Main St., so make sure to add that spot to your list of summer band-hopping. And while you're there, stop into Exile and pick up some tunes by artists you just heard at the local music table. 

Here is the full lineup for this Friday:

FRIDAY, August 19th

Walnut & Chester: 
6pm: Mark Smart and his Virtual Jazz Orchestra
7pm: Ms. M & the Jokers – international

Main & Chestnut:
6pm: Mike and Olivia – contemporary folk, jazz, & Americana
7pm: Ausar – conscientious hip-hop
7:30pm: Rogue Tendency – hip-hop/storytellers

Neil & Park: 
6pm: George Turner Trio – jazz
7pm: Samba Soul, The Best Sounds of Brazil

Neil & Church (One Main Plaza):
6pm: Todd Hazelrigg – folk/Americana
7pm: The PBS Band – eclectic blend of rock/country/roots jam


Five years ago, Fleurish opened in Downtown Champaign

It's hard to believe it's been five years since Downtown Champaign florist Fleurish has opened its doors in it's current location. Earlier this year, I walked in for the first time to discover a world of flowers (and other trinkets) that I had previously never experienced, and that have apparently been in existence for half of a decade, making Fleurish one of Champaign's best hidden gems.

Fleuish's current spot was not their first, as they started initially in Urbana but decided to make the trek westward, taking over the space formerly occupied by florist Rick Orr (pictured above).

Some of you may also know the building as the current home of Bull & Dog Studio.

Pictured from when Rick Orr occupied the space.


Urbana Public Arts Program receives Illinois Arts Council Agency grant

There are few things as universally good at public art, and luckily, the Urbana Public Arts Program provides such things to the public, adding a little flare to city landscapes with installations all over town.

Today, they announce that they have received their biggest grant yet from the Illinois Arts Council Agency, ensuring that public art will continue to prosper in Urbana.

For more information, check out the press release below:

The City of Urbana Public Arts Program is pleased to announce that it has been awarded a $6,800 grant for operating support from the Illinois Arts Council Agency (IACA). This is the sixth time that the Urbana Public Arts Program has received a grant award from the state agency since 2011, with past grant amounts ranging from $1,750 to $4,250.

The Urbana Public Arts Program was established by the Urbana City Council in 2008. Since then, the Program has developed initiatives such as the Urbana Sculpture Project, Artist of the Corridor exhibition series, Art at the Market, Murals on Glass, the Urbana Art Expo, the Urbana Arts Grants Program, Arts in the Schools, and the Art Now program on Urbana Public Television. Urbana is an Illinois Arts Friendly Community, designated by the Illinois Arts Alliance and Illinois Municipal League in 2008.

“The Urbana Public Arts Program works to provide public support for the arts, thereby enhancing the quality of life, economic development, and vibrancy of the community,” says Pauline Tannos, Public Arts Coordinator for the City. “The Illinois Arts Council Agency’s support will allow the Urbana Public Arts Program to maintain its efforts to enrich the lives of Urbana residents through arts programming, arts funding, and arts advocacy.”

For additional information, contact the Public Arts Coordinator at (217) 328-8265 or, or visit the Urbana Public Arts Program’s website. To receive updates on arts opportunities in Urbana, follow the Urbana Public Arts Program on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram; or subscribe to the Public Arts e-newsletter.


Smile Politely seeking Arts writers

Smile Politely is always welcoming new writers into the fold, and that, of course, includes our ever-vibrant Arts section. There are constantly new artistic endeavors happening all over Champaign-Urbana, and as an Arts writer, you'll be able to have your finger on the pulse of the local art scene.

We're looking for some writers for this particular section, and in order for this to really work, you must have at least a mild grasp what's happening locally, and preferably a grasp on art as a whole, as well. Don't worry, you don't have to be a perfect writer — we'll help with that part.

Perks of being an Arts writer include, but are not limited to:

  • Being involved in a wide variety of art-based events
  • A little extra spending money.
  • Valuable writing experience.
  • Sometimes people recognize you at the bar.

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


Finer Feelings to play Exile this Thursday

CU indie folksters Finer Feelings will be playing a gig with Kentucky psych rock band White Knight at Exile on Main St. this Thursday, August 18th. The show starts at 8 p.m., and will be all ages and free, as per the usual Exile awesomeness. Shows at this place don't happen every day, so one would be wise to attend the party.

Plus, just look at that show flyer. Now you've GOT to go.

Check out the event page for more information.