Category: Word

Diana Ross will be at the State Farm Center this July

As part of her Diamond Diana: 75th Birthday, A Year of Celebration tour, Ross will grace the State Farm Center stage with her iconic presence on July 11th at 7:30 p.m. Tickets will go on sale Monday, April 22nd at 10 a.m. Here's the full press release:

Diana Ross is considered one of the most successful recording artists and entertainers of all time. 2019 will be remembered as a milestone in history with a year-long Diamond Diana Celebration marking the 75th birthday of the iconic superstar.

From her landmark solo career to the early days as the leader of The Supremes, Ross helped shape the sound of popular music, changing the landscape and paving the way for contemporary music.

Ross’ international achievements were acknowledged by the prestigious Kennedy Center Honors in Washington DC (2007), celebrating her lustrous career of excellence in music, film, television and theatre, as well as her cultural influences, humanitarian work and her contributions to American culture. The National Academy of Recording Arts & Sciences celebrated her remarkable career with its highest honor, The GRAMMY® Lifetime Achievement Award in 2012. In 2016, Ross received the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the most prestigious civilian award given to a U.S. citizen.

Her portrayal of Billie Holiday in the classic film Lady Sings the Blues resulted in an Oscar® nomination and a trophy at the Golden Globe® Awards. As a stage actress, she won Broadway’s top honor with a Tony Award® for her one-woman show, An Evening with Diana Ross.

All over the world, countless celebrities, musicians, artists, and young dreamers have been inspired and empowered by Ms Ross' beautiful journey.

Tickets can be purchased at, by calling 866-ILLINI-1, or in person at the State Fam Center Ticket Office. Tickets range in price from $43.50 to $144.50 plus fees depending on seat location.

Photo provided by State Farm Center


Krekel’s is closing their Champaign location

Well, that didn't last long. We posted almost exactly a year ago that Krekel's, based in Decatur, would be opening a location here in C-U. It's arrival was the cause of rejoicing and a bit of controversy, as it opened right next door to Jarling's. Here at SP we liked it enough to include it in our Top 8 Burgers list, but alas — we will have to make the trip to Decatur to enjoy one now. They will be open Saturday from 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m., and that'll be it.

Here's the full story from the News-Gazette. 

Photo by Patrick Singer


“Those Who Teach, Can” is coming up next week

Each year, art teachers from Unit 4 put their talents on display for the community to see. This year's show, hosted by 40 North, is happening at 40 Point One | art space at 1300 S. Neil St. (the Consolidated Communications building), and the opening reception is next Thursday, April 18th, from 5 to 8 p.m.

From the event page:

A group of accomplished art teachers set out to dispel a common myth about the abilities of teachers with their show. The artwork, from Champaign Unit 4 School District Art Teachers, represents the diverse talents of its faculty, working in a range of media. These artists/teachers prove that they CAN with their creative, inspirational and thoughtful works of art.

Whether you have a kid in Unit 4 schools or not, this is a unique opportunity to see the expertise and creativity that local art teachers bring to local students year after year. Here is the full list of artists:

Lucy Christianson
Carol-Lynn Compretto
Josh Doniek
Melissa Farley
Scott Fernsberg
Stacey Gross
Rachel Kinney
Amy Johnson
Amy Lozar
John Odum
Emily Pawlicki
Shannon Percoco
Priscilla Putnam
Ravyn Rodgers
Grant Thomas
Enrika Stulpinaite-Maldonado


Epiphany Farms is now serving weekend brunch and Sunday dinner

Have you been to Epiphany Farms in Bloomington? It's an actual farm-to-table restaurant — they literally source most of their product from their farm. The food I've had has been incredible. 

Starting this weekend, the restaurant will sere weekend brunch and Sunday dinner. Details are in the press release below. 

There are several restaurants in the Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group; you can read our reviews of Old Bank Restaurant & Bar in this recent SPlog and a Date Night column, their performance at the 2016 Artisan Cup & Fork, and their dish at the Spence Farm Foundation's 2015 Harvest Feast.


Bloomington, IL, April 8, 2019---Epiphany Farms Restaurant launches their new Weekend Brunch, Saturday, April 13, and adds Sunday dinner service starting April 14, with the brunch service team being led by Ani Craig. Also happening this week is a rebranding of Epiphany Farms’ dinner menu.

Epiphany Farms Restaurant is excited to offer Weekend Brunch for the downtown Bloomington crowd. Brunch hours will be Saturdays and Sundays starting at 7:30am until 1:30pm. From 1:30pm until 4pm, guests can still enjoy the ambience of the Epiphany dining room for a late lunch, early dinner, office work, or meetings, featuring the menu from Anju Above, with full bar and coffee service.

Epiphany will be offering two menu options for brunch:

Available from 7:30am–1:30pm, the Farmers Breakfast a la carte menu will feature Chef Driven, Hyper Local choices showcasing our local farm-grown vegetables, pasture-raised pork, and eggs from our pasture-raised chickens. Highlights include sections dedicated to avocado toasts, waffles, omelets, and egg benedicts. Specialties will include a vegan tofu scramble, farmer’s plate, croque madame, bacon flight, and more.

From 9:30am–1:30pm, guests can also enjoy the All-American Buffet. The perfect cure after a late night, the buffet will feature classics such as eggs two ways, waffles, biscuits and gravy, yogurt parfaits, Epiphany Farms vegetables, a cereal bar, and more alongside an assortment of fresh-baked offerings from Bakery and Pickle.

Rounding out the perfect brunch will be bottomless mimosas and bellinis, and Epiphany Farm’s famous loaded Bloody Mary. Epiphany is celebrating over 7 years of serving local Coffee Hound coffee at Epiphany Farms Restaurant, and promises coffee and espresso drinks that will satisfy your morning caffeine fix.

Epiphany is proud to announce the internal promotion of Ani Craig to lead the service team for brunch at Epiphany. Ani has been with the company for six months as the office manager and accounting assistant at the Epiphany Farms Hospitality Group Corporate Office.

To end the weekend on a high note, join Epiphany Farms for their new dinner service. Seating from 4pm until 9pm, dinner at Epiphany is the perfect way to end the weekend and be ready for the week ahead.

Together with these additional service hours, Epiphany Farms Restaurant is excited to announce the rebranding of dinner service. To keep up with dining trends and provide a more affordable and approachable farm-to-table option to the community, Epiphany Farms Restaurant will be revamping its menu and prices starting this week.

Epiphany Farms
220 E Front St

Photo from Facebook


Learn about and taste kosher wine at Binny’s tomorrow

The Champaign-Urbana Jewish Federation and Illini Chabad are hosting a kosher wine tasting at Binny's tomorrow, Thursday, April 11th from 7 to 9 p.m.

Here are the deets:

You'll have the opportunity to taste many kosher for Passover wines, nosh on cheese and crackers, learn about the connection between wine and Passover with Rabbi Dovid Tiechtel and schmooze with friends!

The cost of this event is free, although please RSVP via our Facebook event or by emailing with the words "wine tasting RSVP" in the subject line.

As an added bonus, you'll receive 10% purchases from Binny's that evening!

Passover begins Friday, April 19th. 

802 W Town Center Blvd

Photo from Facebook


Instagram Story Takeover with Krannert Center for the Performing Arts

Our next installment in our Instagram Story Takeover series takes place this Friday, April 12th. Krannert Center will be taking the controls to show us how things are moving along while their 50th anniversary weekend is gearing up.

Follow us at @SmilePolitely on Instagram to follow along with this installment of our Story Takeover series. Check them out and give them a follow @krannertcenter on Instagram if you don't already. Head over to our Instagram Highlight section to see our previous installments we've done in the past, which includes Polyvinyl Records, Krannert Art Museum, Erin Erdman of Page Roasting Company, and more.

Here's some information about Krannert Center's Come Home to Krannert weekend from their website:

Register now—and help spread the word—for this Come Home weekend, a centerpiece of Krannert Center’s two-season 50th-anniversary festivities. Events include:


10am to noon and 1pm to 2pm: Forum on the Future of Performing Arts in Higher Education (observation)*
3:30pm: Panel discussion: “The Miracle on the Prairie”—The Genesis and Structure of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts*
5pm to 7pm: Casual Welcome Gathering**
Evening: Informal social time on the town


9am to 12pm: Krannert Center Open House* 
2pm to 3pm: Richmond Family Welcome Gallery Tour*
6pm: The Come Home Gala, including remarks and a global toast**


3pm: Krannert Center Debut Artist recital***

Details below!

It’s amazing what can happen when you dream boldly. Fifty years ago, in April 1969, Herman and Ellnora Krannert joined University of Illinois campus leadership; students, staff, and faculty from across campus, including the performing arts at Illinois; and friends from throughout the region and nation to open the doors of this unprecedented facility. Those first moments set in motion decades of extraordinary creativity and impact. This weekend is a time for friends old and new, near and far, to come together in reflection and revelry, celebrating all that has led to this moment in Krannert Center’s history.


10am to noon and 1pm to 2pm: Forum on the Future of Performing Arts in Higher Education (observation), Colwell Playhouse*

Invited guests both local and national will convene on the stage of the Colwell Playhouse for a series of moderated conversations about the future of the performing arts in higher education, inspired by five decades of “the Krannert Center Effect.” Observers are welcome in the audience area of the Playhouse to hear and watch this dialogue, which will explore visions for the future for university-centered arts practitioners, their venues, and their institutions. Observers may come and go quietly at appropriate times.

3:30pm: Panel discussion: “The Miracle on the Prairie”—The Genesis and Structure of Krannert Center for the Performing Arts, Colwell Playhouse*

Krannert Center was unprecedented in scope and scale. This engaging discussion, featuring former Krannert Center Senior Associate Director Rebecca McBride, former Technical Director Tom Korder, former Lighting Director Ray Caton, former Alumni Association CEO Jim Vermette, and others, provides a look at the facility’s history through behind-the-scenes stories and archival images.

5pm to 7pm: Casual Welcome Gathering, Stage 5**

This informal meet-up time is a great chance to reconnect and converse. There will be a cash bar and food available for purchase.

Evening: Informal social time on the town


9am to 12pm: Krannert Center Open House, Lobby* 

With Dance at Illinois, Illinois Theatre, and Lyric Theatre @ Illinois, Krannert Center presents guided tours, open rehearsals, and special displays including a look at research during this behind-the-scenes experience. Intermezzo cafe and Promenade Showcase + Gift Shop will be open throughout the morning. 

2pm to 3pm: Richmond Family Welcome Gallery Tour, 601 S. Lincoln Avenue, Urbana (directly east of Krannert Center)*

Join the University of Illinois Alumni Alliance for a tour of the newly opened Richmond Family Welcome Gallery on the first floor of the Alice Campbell Alumni Center. This experiential showcase celebrates the magnificent history, traditions, and innovations of the University of Illinois and also features a Memory Space where visitors are encouraged to capture their Krannert Center memories for future inclusion in the exhibit. 

6pm: The Come Home Gala, including performances, remarks, and a global toast, Lobby**

This event will feature formal remarks by leadership followed by a performance of an original composition by ELLNORA | The Guitar Festival alum Steve Dawson, performed by Dawson and the School of Music’s Jupiter String Quartet and complemented by a slideshow of Krannert Center images. The formal presentation will finish with a “global toast”—both on-site and by friends around the world—via social media using #KrannertCenterat50. DJ and dancing will follow, festive attire encouraged!

Festive attire; black tie optional (dress to the nines in whatever that means to you)


3pm: Krannert Center Debut Artist recital***
School of Music student Wilson Poffenberger, saxophone, was chosen by audition to be featured in this professional recital. He is joined by pianist Casey Gene Dierlam.

*Free, no tickets required
**Free, no tickets required; cash bar
***Ticket purchase required

Please register for the weekend's events.

Top photo provided by Krannert Center


Open Scene Slam featuring voices of those impacted by incarceration

The Urbana Public Arts Program and the IMC are hosting another installment of Open Scene Urbana, and this iteration will showcase artists impacted by incarceration, either personally or second-hand. The event is being cosponsored by First Followers, a local organization that provides guidance and support to formerly incarcerated individuals, and Time Scholars at UIUC. You can expect moving performances of poetry, spoken word, and music from the presenters during the evening. This Open Scene is taking place Thursday, April 11th, beginning at 5:30 p.m. at the Espresso Royale on Oregon St


Urbana Boulders is celebrating spring this Thursday

It seems spring might finally be here to stay, and Urbana Boulders is hosting a "Yay Spring" potluck and seminar on taking your climbing skills outside.

Members and non-members are encouraged to come, bring food, and socialize with other climbers. There will be no gym entry fee during the event, which is from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. this Thursday, April 11th.

From 7 to 8:30, there will be a free Gym-to-Crag seminar that will offer up info on outdoor climbing. 


Smile Politely seeking Culture writers

Our culture section attempts to capture the essence of C-U. We write about the people, places, and events that make this community a pretty awesome place to live.

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 on the world outside of Champaign-Urbana, yet also be able to keep up with what's happening locally, and preferably be able to tie the two together.

This section is great because we can cover a bit of anything and everything, and whether you are more of a niche writer or one that is open to a wide swath of topics, this could be a place for you.

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


Record Swap, Leonards Pawn Shop moving out of spaces on University

Record Swap (114 E. University) and Leonards Pawn Shop (112 E. University) will both be vacating their respective locations in the coming months. Record Swap is about to turn 40 years old, and as of this moment, without a new home. Leonards will be moving out June 1st, and Record Swap will be leaving at the end of July.

"Still haven't found a place but I am looking." owner Bob Denier mentioned in an email to us. "We are opening our back room on Record Store Day and selling a lot of stuff that we have stored over the years."

Denier mentioned Record Swap will have their "largest RSD order" and will open at 7 a.m. — their sale includes 20% off used and 10% off new (not including the new 2019 RSD stock and the back room items). The sale will cover the whole weekend, Friday to Sunday.

While it appears that Leonards will find a new brick-and-mortar home, the future remains unclear for Record Swap. Denier has been in search of a new location, but hasn't had much luck.

"One day I think I will find a place and the next I want to go mailorder." He mentioned, so while a new location is possible, mail order business might be the most clear path forward for Record Swap. Read The News-Gazette's story which covers the situation more in depth.

Record Swap has had many iterations over the years since opening in 1977. John Steinbacher does an excellent job at outlining that timeline in his series (part one and part two). Record Swap has been located at this location on University in Champaign since roughly 2007, but prior to that, RS was set up in Urbana, then before that, Campustown, and on 5th Street before that.

Watch John Isberg's video about Record Store from early last year:

Top photo by Patrick Singer


Two Intercultural Spotlight trainings on U of I campus this week

ISSSTRAINS, hosted by the Office of International Student & Scholar Services, is a series of trainings that are designed to help the campus community gain a foundation in many areas of international education, including cultural competence and intercultural communication, to best meet the needs of students and peers from diverse cultural backgrounds.

Mark your calendars and join us!

Intercultural Spotlight: Understanding Students and Scholars from China
Tuesday, April 9th, 2019
3-5 p.m.
ARC Auditorium
201 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820

Intercultural Spotlight: Understanding Students and Scholars from Nigeria
Wednesday, April 10th, 2019
3-5 p.m.
ARC Auditorium
201 E Peabody Dr, Champaign, IL 61820

The Intercultural Spotlight talks feature students and scholars from around the world sharing their individual perspectives about their home country, culture, family dynamics, educational expectations, academic systems, their Illinois experience, and more.