Smile Politely

Weekender: May 16-19

A field of peony flowers in light pink, dark pink, and white against a dark green bush. There is a blue sky and white clouds above.
Allerton Park and Retreat Center

Thursday, May 16th

See the peonies in peak bloom, anytime, Allerton Park and Retreat Center, free

It’s peony season and the best place to see these beautiful flowers is at Allerton. They have over 50 different varieties that are in bloom from late April to June. I like to go on a weekday morning which pretty much guarantees that I have the place to myself, but anytime is a good time to get out to the park and enjoy the gardens. (LKG)

Two white women and one white man sit in chairs on a stage with green bowls of soup in their hands.
(from left) Lauren Ashley Hayes, Melih Sener, and Helvi Witek; Photo by Jesse Folks

Let Describe the Night wash over you, Station Theatre, 7:30 p.m., $13 + $17

Director Latrelle Bright brings Rajiv Joseph’s Obie-winning play to life at Urbana’s Station Theatre for one final weekend. The story examines both imagined and real interconnections between the 20th-century Jewish writer Isaac Babel and the emerging repressive Russian regime that would eventually destroy him and much of his life’s work. The play contains mature themes and explores those to the fullest. (AP)

Friday, May 17th

A maki sushi roll with raw fatty tuna with a yellow sauce and raw jalapenos on a black plate.
Sunset roll at Sakanaya; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Eat sushi rolls in Campustown, Sakanaya, 3:45 to 9:30 p.m., $6-$21

The students are on summer break, and Green Street eateries will be easier to enjoy. Go for sushi this weekend at Sakanaya. The Campustown favorite offers stellar sushi, amazing udon, and the best crispy rice with spicy tuna of my life. They even boast a full page vegetarian/vegan menu in addition to wine, beer, and sake. For more info, check out my full restaurant review from last week. (AB)


Leap back in time with the Tigerbeat reunion, Rose Bowl Tavern, 8:30 p.m., tips in bucket

Tigerbeat, a renowned Champaign-Urbana band, reunites for a one-night-only event at Rose Bowl Tavern, promising an evening of nostalgic music and vibrant energy. They will be joined by the Clayton Burke Band and Claws of Joy, featuring Matt Yeates and Eric Fitts, to deliver an engaging performance. There’s no cover, but donations are appreciated. (DP)

Saturday, May 18th

A line of cars in a parking lot, with several people in bright yellow vests approaching the cars. In the foreground is a stack of electronic consoles.
Nichole Millage

Remember to drop off your electronics recycling, Parkland College, 8 a.m. to noon, free

Did you sign up for the spring residential electronics collection event? If so, you got a postcard in the mail with your drop off time. Don’t forget to go! If you missed this one, there will be another one in October. Keep your eyes peeled for info; we’ll share it as soon as it’s available. In the meantime, dump all your weird cords and electronics in a box and either drop them off this Saturday or hang on to them until October. (JH)

Swap some clothes, Art Coop, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., free

Drop off clothes (no undies, no racist imagery), and Art Coop will sort them. Then you can take a look through the clothes and see what works best for you. Anything leftover will be donated. (JH)

Attend a book club event for Hijab Butch Blues by Lamya H, The Literary, 4 to 5 p.m., free

Even if you haven’t read the book yet, it’s easy to get caught up by the lively conversation at The Lit’s book clubs. There’s a children’s story time right before this discussion so you can listen to a children’s story and then soak up conversation about this timely and inventive memoir. You can always buy Lamya H’s Stonewall Book Award winner there and enjoy it this summer. (AP)

A flowery arch frames Taylor Street of Downtown Champaign. The road is closed for traffic and several red tents have vendors selling art. Manyt people gather and stand around the paved road in between buildings.
Toast To Taylor Street

Chill, vibe, and unwind at Toast to Taylor Street, Downtown Champaign, 4 to 11 p.m., free

The Toast to Taylor Street event celebrates the local culture of Downtown Champaign with a block party that features live music performances all day/night, a marketplace for local artisans, and a variety of food and drink options. This community-driven event, free to the public, takes place from 4 p.m. to 11 p.m., offering an opportunity to enjoy the vibrant local scene and support regional talent​. (DP)

Have a nice dinner, Analog, 5 to 8 p.m., $24

Analog’s supper club returns with a three course meal for $24 (that’s practically free). On the menu: pea salad, meatloaf with mashed potatoes and green beans, and pie a la mode. You’ll need to get tickets ahead of time, but you can stop by anytime between 5 and 8 p.m.; don’t forget to grab a glass of wine at the bar. (JH) 

Sunday, May 19th

A baby reindeer standing on the grass. It is leaning toward the camera. Its brown fur is soft and fluffy looking.
Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch on Facebook

See some baby reindeer, Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., $8

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch has three new baby reindeer, and they are cute. This weekend and next, head to the farm to see them (and the big reindeer, too). Note: The corn maze is not available at the ranch right now (you know, no corn), so you’re just going to see cuteness of all sizes. (JH)

Drink a beer in your yoga pants, Riggs Beer Company, 12:30 p.m., $10

Certified yoga instructor Jodi Adams will be leading a fun, one-hour, all-levels yoga class on the lawn of Riggs. Early registration is encouraged and the $10 fee must be paid in cash to Adams at the start of the class. While the fee doesn’t include beer, beverages will be available for purchase at the bar and water is free. (LKG)

The strawberry Bee's Knees cocktail at Hamilton Walker's in Champaign.
Strawberry Bee’s Knees at Hamilton Walkers; Photo by Alyssa Buckley

Sip a strawberry Bee’s Knees cocktail and dance a little, Hamilton Walker’s, 7 to 9 p.m., $10

Once a month, Downtown Champaign’s swanky steakhouse hosts a swing dance with Illini Swing Society, and May’s dance is this Sunday night. There’s no cover charge, but dancers are encouraged to buy a drink (or maybe some cheesy macaroni) at the bar. I’ll take any excuse to sip one of Hamilton Walker’s cocktails because they are delicious and fancy. I particularly love the strawberry Bee’s Knees, a twist on the classic drink with the addition of strawberry liqueur. The swing dance event is very chill and open to all levels of ability, but a little liquid courage never hurts. (AB)

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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