Smile Politely

Weekender: October 25-27

Friday, October 25th

Check out the “Of Jealousy, Women Warriors & Spin Offs,” lecture at the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library, 3 to 5 p.m., free

Traffic and construction aside, the University of Illinois Rare Book & Manuscript Library is a treasure trove of fascinating materials and tons of cool information on a variety of topics.  Eleonora Stoppino, Professor of Italian and Medieval Studies, will be exploring Secondo Tarentino’s “Della Bradamante Gelosa.” Press for the event promises an introduction to “the chivalric tradition and its contexts as well as this extravagant little poem, printed in Venice in 1552. The book, featuring five half-page woodcut illustrations, will be on display.” (DD) Image from the Facebook event page

Do the 4th Friday Downtown Champaign Art Crawl, 5 to 8 p.m., free

I am so happy to see art crawl culture take root in downtown Champaign. If you’re heading downtown for a Friday happy hour, stop over at any of the designated locations. Enjoy the chance to see inside real-life art studios as well as local spots where art is featured. Get the details here. And have I said that art makes holiday gifts, especially when it’s locally-made. (DD) 

Try some samples, Common Ground Food Co-op, 5 to 7 p.m., free

Common Ground’s annual fall sampling event is this Friday (and there’s another one on November 1st). You’ll be able to sample holiday side dishes prepared by Common Ground, pre-order turkeys, and get some of your Thanksgiving menu in order. There’s no shame in buying premade sides, or placing orders for stuff you know you’ll be tasked to bring to someone else’s house. Or, you can just stop in the store for a pre-dinner snack. (JH) Photo from Facebook

Make your way through the maze, Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., $8 daytime/$9 after 5 p.m.

Fall temperatures are dropping quickly and before you know it, we will all make the yearly retreat indoors to hibernate. Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch is a great way to spend the remaining days of comfortable weather outside. While the name implies Hardy’s is a Christmas place (which it is), it also boast an array of fall activities. Most well-known is the corn maze, which covers 10 acres and challenges participants to locate eight checkpoints before making their way out, most completing the task in 1-3 hours. When the sun goes down, the maze can be navigated by flashlight or the glint of the moon, referred to as “Moonlight Madness”. Round out your experience at Hardy’s with a hay ride and the “Jack Splat” pumpkin canon. (SP) Photo from Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, October 26th

Attend the last outdoor market of the season*, Urbana’s Market at the Square, 7 a.m. to noon, prices vary

(*That is, in Urbana on a Saturday. The actual last outdoor market of the season is The Land Connection’s Tuesday market on October 29th in Downtown Champaign.) The last Urbana’s Market at the Square for this season is here, and there is no better time to visit for the first time than now. If you haven’t been, there will still be plenty of produce and baked goods and crafts and food trucks. Stock up on meat and honey and things you can preserve. Or, just stop by on a crisp fall morning for some breakfast from your favorite food truck. (JH) Photo by Jessica Hammie

Run for a good cause, University of Illinois Arboretum, 10 a.m., $30

The annual Aruna Run raises awareness, and money, for exploited women in India. The Aruna Project helps women gain freedom through holistic care and employment opportunities. Registration for the 5K begins at 9 a.m., and your race fee includes a shirt, bag, and medal. Everyone loves a medal. (JM)

Spend your Saturday afternoon at C-U Folk and Roots Festival, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., all over C-U

So much of this weekend’s music scene revolves around CUFRF, but did you know that there are a ton of free events happening on Saturday morning? Family and kid-friendly programming, jam sessions, workshops — there’s something for everyone. If you’re not able to make any of the evening concerts, be sure to pop on in to the Urbana Free Library to see a few shows throughout the afternoon. Check out the full schedule here. (BH) Photo by Eric Frahm

Join in carving 400+ pumpkins, Crowley Pumpkins, 1 p.m., free 

Each late October I look forward to driving by Crowley Pumpkins in Mahomet to view the 400+ jack-o-lanterns they put on display in the woods for passersby to gander at. You may ask how one small operation can carve so many pumpkins in a short amount of time so they remain fresh for Halloween? That’s where the gracious volunteers of Champaign County roll up their sleeves, get elbow-deep in pumpkin guts, and bring out their carving tools. If you would like to join in pumpkin carving, they ask that you bring your own chair and carving tools. The carved pumpkins will be on display during the nights of October 29th, 30th, and 31st. Smile Politely will be featuring Crowley Pumpkins in a video segment to be published during the week of Halloween. Crowley Pumpkins is located at 435 County Road 2500 N in Mahomet. (SP) Photo by Steven Pratten

UP Center Fall Playdate, Hessel Park, 1:30 to 3:30, free

Are you a parent of a child who is LGBTQ+, questioning, gender-nonconforming, or gender-expansive? Or, are you someone that identifies as such? Here’s an opportunity to build some community with other parents and kids living that same life. You are invited to drop in anytime, but no dropping off. The event will be appropriate for kids under 13 and their parents. (JM)

Sunday, October 27th

Get your cold-weather gear in order, any time, your house, free

If you’re anything like me, you’ve been loving this cooler weather. Hanging out in the low-sixties, dipping into the mid-forties at night — I’m a happy mister fall. But, unless my weather apps are lying to me, next week we’ll see our temps sink below freezing. So this weekend, do yourself a favor and get all those heavy sweaters and coats out of storage. Shake out the moths, hit ’em with some Febreeze, and be ready to get cozy before you’re shivering. (BH)

Check out a new-to-you restaurant or brewery, all over C-U and surrounding areas, all weekend, prices vary

We are not wanting for restaurants in C-U, and even as Food & Drink editor I haven’t been able to try every single one. I do my best to try a new place every week or so, and I encourage you to do the same. Some are hits, some are misses, but it’s a story none the less. If you’re interested in getting out of C-U, check out the Travel category in the Food & Drink section. (JH) Photo of fried chicken sandwich at Old Bank in Le Roy by Jessica Hammie

Celebrate Diwali, on the Quad, 6 to 10 p.m., free to attend, food $1-10

The Indian Graduate Students Association is hosting their annual Diwali on the Quad. Help light the Quad with candles while enjoying delicious Indian food and a Bollywood DJ. You can find the full menu of food offerings on their event page. Note: only cash accepted. (JM) Photo from Facebook event page

Be scared senseless, Baldwin Asylum in Rantoul, 7 to 10 p.m., $15-25

Halloween is happening this week, and people tend to fall in one of two catagories. They like to be scared, or they can’t stand it. I’m in that first group. I had a horror movie and book (Christopher Pike anyone?) obsession as a preteen, and still dig a good scare. Baldwin has a pretty solid reputation in this area, and this week is your last chance to experience their haunted house this season. Be sure to check out our behind the scenes video to get a sneak peek of what you’re getting yourself into. You can get tickets ahead of time here. (JM) Top photo by Steven Pratten


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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