Smile Politely

Weekender: April 4-7

An overhead photo of the potatoes at Old Time Meat & Deli in Champaign, Illinois. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.
Alyssa Buckley

Thursday, April 4th

Buy a potato, Old Time Meat & Deli, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., $4.29

Ensure a good weekend by having an on-call potato. Who knows if you’ll want to leave the house this weekend, so why not stash a big, fat, cheesy baked potato in the fridge for whenever hunger strikes? These twice-baked potatoes are so amazing that I can eat one all by myself as a meal, but they can make a nice sharable side with fresh steaks, seafood, and other deli offerings. (AB)

Friday, April 5th

A group of young Black children take turns looking into a microscope.
Beckman Institute via Jenna Kurzweil

Learn more about science, Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 405 N. Mathews Ave, Urbana, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., free

The annual Beckman Institute Open House runs Friday and Saturday and will be an incredible way for people in the community to experience science in a new way. Attendees of all ages are encouraged to engage with over 30 exhibits. You can be part of a science scavenger hunt, see hands-on demonstrations, or even try and make your way out of an escape room. You can read more about this unique event in my interview with one of the organizers. (LKG)

Thin-crust pizza at Old Orchard in Savoy.
Thin-crust pizza at Old Orchard; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

This weekend, go have a slice of the thin-crust pizza at Old Orchard. This ‘za recently won our 2024 Food & Drink Tournament. In the final round, readers voted overwhelmingly for the tavern-cut pizza to win over Black Dog’s burnt ends. The pizza has a super, super thin crust, deliciously melty mozz, and the toppings are customizable. Eat this winning pizza at the Savoy bowling alley or get it to go. (AB)

Celebrate La Casa at the U of I, 1203 W Nevada St, Urbana, 1 p.m. to 11 p.m. and continues all weekend, free, but check in / registration might be required for some events 

La Casa Cultural Latina, the Latin American cultural house at the University of Illinois, is celebrating its 50th year of existence. That’s an incredible feat! There is an entire weekend of programming; check out the schedule here. (JH)

A dynamic performance captures the audience's attention, featuring a woman mid-song, her expression full of emotion as she grips the microphone with both hands. A man beside her passionately delivers his own lyrics, holding a bright red megaphone. Behind them, a diverse ensemble of classical musicians, including a cellist, a flutist, and a trumpeter, blend their traditional sounds with the contemporary beats from a DJ, visible at his turntable station. The striking juxtaposition of classical and modern elements suggests an innovative fusion of musical genres, engaging and lively. A breakdancer, mid-flip, adds to the spectacle, embodying the energy and rhythm that defines this unique performance.
Thee Phantom and the Illharmonic Orchestra on Facebook

Catch live hip-hop with an orchestral twist, Bloomington Center for the Performing Arts, 7:30 p.m., $21 to $46

Thee Phantom & the Illharmonic Orchestra blend the electrifying energy of hip-hop with the grandeur of live orchestral music, creating a unique concert experience. Led by the duo Phantom and Phoenix, their performances showcase a seamless fusion of rap, classical music, and soulful vocals, promising a completely entertaining mash-up of genres that will undoubtedly be a great show. (DP)

Saturday, April 6th

An open space full of tables of books and people walking along the tables. There are bright florescent lights above and a window on the left wall.
Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners Facebook

Buy some books to support a great organization, Independent Media Center, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., free, but bring money for books, t-shirts, and tote bags

Urbana-Champaign Books to Prisoners is having its Spring Benefit Book Sale. The organization helps provide free books to people incarcerated in Illinois. There will be over 8,000 books for sale in almost every genre. These books can’t be used by prisoners for various reasons, and the proceeds of the sale will help provide supplies for the organization and more books to incarcerated people. Hardcovers are only two dollars and paperbacks are one dollar. Buy a bag there or bring one from home so you have something to carry all of your books out. (LKG)

The dining room of Aroma Garden restaurant in Urbana, Illinois.
Alyssa Buckley

Eat Chinese food, Aroma Garden, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., prices vary

The newest restaurant in town, Aroma Garden Chinese restaurant, opens this weekend in Urbana near Five Points. It has a menu of 250 items, from noodles to fried rice to vegetarian dishes; the new restaurant’s Chinese cuisine has something for everyone. Aroma Garden has dine in and takeout available. (AB)

An aluminum cake pan is filled with a cake with dark purple icing, yellow eyes, and red lips. It is sitting next to the book The Great Gatsby.
C-U Edible Book Festival on Facebook

Devour a book, Common Ground, 11:30 a.m. for viewing and 12:15 p.m. for tasting, free

The 18th Annual Edible Book Festival is happening this year at Common Ground Food Co-op. The event starts at 11:30 a.m. with a viewing of all the cake entries. Cakes in the contest will all be inspired by a book, and guests will be able to vote on the cakes in different categories like Best Depiction of a Classic and Most Appetizing. For more about what it’s like, take a peek at last year’s winning cake, or our coverage of the event in 2019. (AB)

Check out Dance Arts Conservatory’s Snow White, The Virginia Theatre, 2 p.m., $16-$18

With so many films, art exhibits, and poetry readings happening this month, I didn’t want to leave out opportunities to appreciate the exquisite beauty of dance. Join the Dance Arts Conservatory and enjoy this perennial favorite as it unfolds on the bewitching stage of Champaign’s Virginia Theatre. The story will be followed by a showcase of dancers performing in ballet, tap, and jazz. (AP)

A road stretches into the distance between a landscape of rolling, barren hills with a brownish-brass color, under a hazy sky. There are no vehicles or people in sight, just an open road inviting travel through this serene, open terrain.
Lyric Opera @ Illinois

Hear runaway tunes from the Lyric Theater @ Illinois, Rose Bowl Tavern, 3 p.m., $10 to $15

Head to Rose Bowl Tavern to catch a matinee performance and hear the narratives of America’s wanderers in Fugitive Songs, a musical exploration by Chris Miller and Nathan Tysen. Presented by Lyric Theater @ Illinois, this collection of 19 songs weaves a tapestry of stories with a fresh blend of traditional folk, pop, and gospel sounds. (DP)

View the work of U of I School of Art & Design MFA candidates, Krannert Art Museum, 4 to 6 p.m., free

MFA candidates at in the School of Art & Design have their thesis research on display at Krannert Art Museum. The exhibition opens in conjunction with an opening reception (that means snacks). See what these students have been up for for the last few years, what they’ve been thinking about, and help send them off into the world to become professional, working, creative people. (JH)

Dance to 80s music, Gallery Art Bar, 8 p.m. to 2 a.m., free entry, but buy drinks

Disco Phil, Mr. Gone, and KamauMau will be spinning 80s dance hits all night. This will be a perfect way to detach from the rigors of daily life and just be. It will be fun! (JH)

Sunday, April 7th

Prepare yourself for the totality, your house, all day, free-ish

Are you going to drive to see the solar eclipse on Monday? The closest viewing location for the total eclipse is just about two hours away, though there will most definitely be traffic, so plan accordingly. Do you have your eclipse glasses? Do you have one of those little boxes to view the eclipse if you don’t have glasses? Do you have road snacks? I recommend picking up sandwiches from Cheese & Crackers ahead of time. Make a plan, people! (JH)

Photo of the faces of six people against a white background.
Glass Room Poets on Facebook

Enjoy the Glass Room Poets at the Urbana Free Library, 2 p.m. to 3:30 p.m., free

I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the creative work of this group in the past and look forward to their reading this weekend. Guest readers this year include: Robert Manaster, Emily Kerlin, Elizabeth Majerus, Elaine Palencia, Marla Jarmer, Will Reger, and John Palen. These accomplished poets will share from their original work (aimed at teens and adults) and enjoy light refreshments in celebration of National Poetry Month. (AP)

All event information is accurate to the best of our abilities, but sometimes we make mistakes and sometimes event information, times, prices, etc., change after we look them up. Whenever possible, we’ve provided a link to the original event page; you should always double-check the source before you make any firm plans. Thanks for your understanding.

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