Smile Politely

Get your Culture here: Five experiences to have in February 2022

Ah February. The shortest month of the year. The last month of meteorological winter. I have different feelings about February than I do about January. January feels dreary  a let down after the previous month’s festivities. February has more action. There are so many official happenings: Groundhogs Day! Valentines Day! Presidents Day! Black History Month! And, with so few days in this month, it feels doable. We can get through it. Because guess what’s next…March. Spring feels within reach. 

However you feel about February, I have some suggestions for experiencing C-U this month, whether you want to be outdoors, out and about, or at home online. 

Three bundled up children are on a sled, sliding down a snowy hill. At the top of the hill there are kids and adults in winter gear, some holding sleds. Photo from Champaign Park District website.

Photo from Champaign Park District website.

Go sledding

On the day this publishes, Champaign-Urbana is on the verge of getting completely walloped with snow. For some of you, this inspires dread. For others, excitement. I think it’s the perfect time for this sort of snow event. It’s still winter (there’s nothing worse than something like this happening in April), and at least for a while the landscape becomes a bit more magical. I’ve begun to tire of being cold and seeing nothing but dead, brown, scenery. Once the snow subsides and the salt trucks do their thing, get out there and hit a sleddin’ hill. The hills at Centennial Park and Colbert Park are probably the most well known, but if you want some variety Chambanamoms has a solid list of all of your sledding options. Don’t have kids? Who cares! Sledding is fun for all. 

A close up of one corner of The Station Theatre building. It's a brick building with a pointed roof. There is a small square window and a semi-circle window. There is a sign under the latter that is black and says Urbana in white letters. Below that there is a black sign that says The Station Theatre in white letters. Photo by Patrick Singer.

Photo by Patrick Singer.

Celebrate love with Uniting Pride

A collection of local performers will be doing a cabaret style show with love songs from musical theater at The Station Theatre. The event is a fundraiser for Uniting Pride, and your $40 ticket will include a swag bag with treats to take home. There are two performances, on February 11th and 12th at 7:30 p.m., and space is limited, so be sure to snag your tickets soon. If you want to be a little extra, you can sponsor a performer for $75 or dedicate a song for $100. Find out more and order your tickets on the Uniting Pride website

Three curling stones sit in the center of a target on the ice. There is a portion of a red circular band, a white space, then a thick blue circular band with a small white circle in the center. Photo from Prairielands Curling Facebook page.

Photo from Prairielands Curling Facebook page. 

Drink and watch curling with new friends

The Winter Olympics are happening this month, and while there are so many sports that feel just completely unfathomable to ever even attempt (hello skeleton), curling feels like it’s within reach for us average folk. That’s not to say it doesn’t take immense skill and years of perfecting to achieve Olympic level greatness. Just saying I could attempt it without severely injuring my body or chancing death. In fact, in the before times, my husband and son joined Prairielands Curling for an open house at the U of I Ice Arena. The club was trying to gather local support for the sport. Then, of course, COVID happened. Now, Prairielands Curling has new leadership, and they are setting up a watch party at Collective Pour on February 15th at 7 p.m. to watch the U.S. Women. Enjoy some delicious cocktails and an extensive beer selection while getting to know some other curling enthusiasts. 

In the center of a mass of brown branches, there is an owl looking towards the camera. It has mostly brown feathers, with white speckles. Photo from Champaign County Forest Preserve Facebook page.

Photo from Champaign County Forest Preserve Facebook page.

Prowl for owls

Did you know that February is prime owl viewing time in this area? More owls can be found during the winter months, and some species are in breeding mode. The Owl Prowl is an opportunity to learn more about these nocturnal creatures, and see how many you can find along the trails at Lake of the Woods. This year’s prowl is February 24th, from 6 to 7:30 p.m., and will begin in the Museum of the Grand Prairie parking lot. Grab your tickets now, because spots for this will fill up quickly. The prowl is suitable for ages 5 and up, and it’s $5 per person. 

A black and white photo of a group of mostly Black men in suits and two Black women in dresses and hats. They are posed in front of a church, a brick building with a sign over the door that says Bethel AME Church. The man on the far left is sitting behind a drum set, and one person is holding a banner sign that says Bethel S.S. Bible Class. Photo from Facebook event page, courtesy of Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Collection, at the Museum of the Grand Prairie.

Photo from Facebook event page, courtesy of Doris K. Wylie Hoskins Collection, at the Museum of the Grand Prairie.

Dig into Black history in Champaign County

In the fall, plans were announced for an African American Heritage Trail project happening in Champaign County. Led by Angela M. Rivers and Barbara Suggs-Mason, with a nearly 30 person committee of community stakeholders, the project will document African American history in Champaign County, with stops planned in Homer, Broadlands, Champaign-Urbana, Rantoul, and on the U of I campus. On February 19th, you can attend a virtual discussion with Rivers and Suggs-Mason about the planning of this project. Hidden Stories, The History of African Americans in Champaign County, will offer an opportunity to learn more about the project, and hear stories about the African American experience in our community. The discussion will happen from 12 to 1 p.m. over Zoom. Sign up here for the link. 

Top photo by Andrew Pritchard. 

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