July 4th in #ILSouth!!!

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Holidays, Summer, What's Happening

independence day blog banner

OOOOOOOOOOOH!

AAAAAAAAAAAAAH!

It’s time to celebrate Independence Day in ILLINOISouth. Beginning this weekend you can find everything from live music, to sandcastle contests, car shows to volleyball and washers tournaments. Runs, festivals and more will dot our region to celebrate the ultimate summer holiday…and, of course, don’t miss all the FIREWORKS!!!

Read below, or visit our online calendar for information on what our different communities are doing!

Jun. 27, 2015
4th of July Dam Jam & Fireworks
Carlyle Lake
Come enjoy a full day of live music, sandcastle building contest, volleyball tournament concluding with a wonderful fireworks display. The fireworks will be shot from point 1 and can be viewed by boat or shore in the Dam West and East Recreation Areas.

Freedom Day
Toledo
Celebrate independence with corn dogs, Kitten Ball and lots of contests (pizza eating, Little Miss and Mister, etc.) fireworks, music and food.

Jun. 27, 2015 – Jun. 28, 2015
West Salem 4th of July Celebration
West Salem
Town Wide Yard Sale, 5K Run/Walk, Raffle, and fireworks. Church service 10:00 a.m. on the Square, Firehouse Dinner at Noon Car Show – Registration 11:30 a.m., Awards 4:30 p.m.

Jul. 1, 2015
Annual Carnival & 4th of July Celebration
Fairview Park, Centralia
The carnival will have entertainment, good games and fireworks. Patriotic event is held in the City’s park.

Jul. 1, 2015 – Jul. 5, 2015
Patriots in the Park
Wilson Park, Granite City
This event includes an auto show, carnival with food, live entertainment and rides. Don’t miss the incredible fireworks display on the 4th!

Fantastic 4th Weekend
Market St., Mt. Carmel
Mt. Carmel shows you how to celebrate the 4th with a weekend of family events. From the parade to the car show, you’ll find lots of reasons to be in Mt. Carmel on this Independence Day Weekend!

Jul. 2, 2015 – Jul. 4, 2015
4th of July
Rt. 50, Steeleville
Have fun with carnival rides, food, live music and beer stand. On July 4th, there will be craft stands before and after the parade, 3K Firecracker race at 9:00 a.m. and fireworks that evening.

July 3
Blast Off Parade and Fireworks
Albers
The parade will line up at American Legion and begin at 6:30 p.m. Fireworks at dusk.

Fireworks
Du Quoin State Fairgrounds

Fireworks
Vandalia Lake
Fireworks will start around 9:15 p.m.

July 3 – 4
Gateway Grizzlies 4th of July Games
GCS Ballpark, Sauget
The games start at 6:35 p.m. with a great fireworks display at the end of the game.

July 4
4th of July
Alhambra
Food & fireworks

Carmi Lion’s Club 8th Annual Car, Truck & Motorcycle Show
White County Fairgrounds, Carmi
The 8th Annual Carmi Lion’s Club Car, Truck and Motorcycle Show will also have tractors, lots of trophies, dash plaques and awards. There will also be a swap meet, craft vendors, food and drinks and fireworks after dark!

4th of July Bike Parade and Celebration
Main Street & American Legion, Columbia
Decorated bikes and creative patriotic costumes ride down historic Main Street to celebrate our country! Later in the day head up to the American Legion to participate in the washer and kloepper tournaments or just enjoy the music and refreshments while you wait for the amazing fireworks display at dusk!

Picnic in the Park
Dupo Community Park
Bring the family and enjoy food, rides, games, live music, washers tournament and a large fireworks display.

4th of July Festival & Fireworks
Flora

Fireworks Display
Glik Par, Highland
Come early to enjoy food from various vendors and fun family activities.

Liberty Bell of the West Patriotic Celebration
201 First St., Kaskaskia
Come out to Kaskaskia and hear and see Patriotic music & tributes, ring bell for Liberty, French Marine Salute, traditional food available and tours.

Old Fashioned July 4th Celebration
Scheve Park, Mascoutah, IL
A hometown celebration to encourage and strengthen the relationship between surrounding communities and the city. The event will have food and craft booths, softball and kickball tournaments, rides, kids’ games, raffle, poker, artisans, music and fireworks.

Fireworks Display
Olney City Park
Fireworks begin at dusk.

4th of July Fireworks
Tri-Township Park, Troy

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Gentlemen, Start Your Engines…Motorsports Revving Up Throughout ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Motorsports, Sports, Spring, Summer, Tourism Times

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

Nascar Truck Racing at Gateway Motorsports Park

You don’t have to go to Charlotte, Talladega or Daytona for a great auto race. To get in gear, you need only venture across Southern Illinois, from the burgs of Madison to Highland to Flora.

Of course, ladies can start their engines, too. And they don’t have to be named Danica Patrick. Gateway Motorsports Park provides plenty of opportunities for bona fide racers to neophytes—say, a kindergarten teacher or a British squash team—to get behind the wheel of a race-prepped Camaro. Many corporate team-building getaways are held here. Not including karting, 230 events will be held this year at Gateway, within sight of I-55 and the Gateway Arch in St. Louis.

Driving for Linemen Pace Car - Gateway Motorsports Park

Driving for Linemen Pace Car – Gateway Motorsports Park

Curtis Francois is a racer who’s parlayed his time behind the wheel to owner of the radically refurbished track and stands. Much more happens here than cars speeding around a 1¼-mile paved oval.

“The idea is to make it an entertainment,” says Francois, “and sometimes a race breaks out.”

And the karting is in a different league than what you’d find at an amusement park in Branson. These are built in France, not by Sears. You have no idea how fast these rascals go until you see and hear them up close and personal. Neither could you imagine what it’s like to be among as many as 75,000 roaring fans, even on an 80-inch screen. Want to try it yourself? Try “arrive and drive” at the new Kartplex, located within the oval itself.

April starts the season out at most tracks and speedways, whether you’re in the mood for off-road trucks in Baja-style contests, to every other type of racecar competition, officially sanctioned or not. There’s SCCA racing (Sports Car Club of America) and heart-stopping 1/8-mile NHRA (National Hot Rod Association) drag races. You can thrill to a Grand Am or marvel at pre-1972 muscle car “nostalgia” runs.

Highland Speedway

Highland Speedway

Gateway only reopened a few years ago and work is still going on to add features so would-be racers can get a feel for all racing surfaces, from the classic oval to an impossibly curvy 1½-mile road course… hold on to your stomach!

Compared to new and ever-improving Gateway, Highland Speedway is not far from collecting Social Security. It opened in 1962… and excitement is building for its 54th season. UMP (United Midwestern Promoters) DIRTcar racing here ranges from Street Stocks to KidModz (12-18).

Rt. 45 Raceway

Rt. 45 Raceway

Did we mention that nearly anyone can get involved with this sport?

The racetrack in Clay County, 2½ miles north of Flora, has been renamed Route 45 Raceway. As many as 3,500 can enjoy all classes of UMP DIRTcar racing on the 1/3-mile high-banked dirt track. And would it be auto racing without sponsors and ads on every square inch of car, uniform or grandstand? This season 480-feet of fence will be festooned with 8-foot billboards.

TriCity Speedway

TriCity Speedway

In Pontoon Beach, just south of I-270, Tri-City Speedway is a 3/8-mile dirt oval (as measured 20- feet from the outside wall). The track features 10 degrees banking in the corners and is 70-feet wide all the way around.

Rather watch drivers bust stuff up? Keep tabs on whether a demolition derby will be scheduled somewhere, probably at Belle-Clair Fairgrounds in Belleville. At this writing, plans for the season there were still being formalized.

Yes, racing is exciting, whether you’re watching or participating. But, as Francois says, you don’t have to white-knuckle yourself around tight turns at a high rate of speed. Just focus on the orange cone at the apex of each curve.

As he points out, with a grin: “Racing is more of a geometry problem than guts and gonads.”

For further information, visit:
www.gatewaymsp.com
www.highlandspeedway.com
www.route45raceway.com
www.tricityspeedway.net
www.belleclairspeedway.com

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Check It Out: Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor Festival

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Nostalgia, Rt. 66, Summer, What's Happening

BCC logoThe first annual Illinois Route 66 Blue Carpet Corridor weekend festival – “Miners, Mobsters, and the Mother Road” – will be held Saturday-Sunday, June 13-14. The Blue Carpet Corridor, from Chatham down to Collinsville, is a unique section of Route 66 characterized not only by its Mother Road charm, but also its rich mining history and colorful mobster lore.

BLUE CARPET MAPRoute 66 is known for its quirky attractions, roadside hospitality, and family fun. And on the second weekend in June, the blue carpet will be rolled out to welcome thousands of travelers all along the Blue Carpet Corridor. The event highlights 19 communities on historic Route 66 including Chatham, Auburn, Thayer, Virden, Girard, Nilwood, Carlinville, Gillespie, Benld, Staunton, Hamel, Edwardsville, Litchfield, Mt. Olive, Williamson, Livingston, Glen Carbon, Troy, and Collinsville.

A variety of events and activities awaits visitors in the nineteen participating communities along three historic alignments of the Mother Road. The cities and villages have planned a variety of activities, including festivals, car shows, live entertainment, children’s activities, and historic tours and exhibits. Food stands and eateries will be open for hungry travelers. Innovative museums, towering monuments, historic buildings, and winding stretches of original highway are waiting to be discovered. Visitors can scour antique shops, yard sales, flea markets, and unique mom and pop stores for hidden treasures.

So load the family car, start early, and join us for a whole weekend of fun on the Blue Carpet Corridor on Saturday and Sunday, June 13 and 14. Don’t forget to bring your camera because photo ops will be plentiful!

Edw Rt 66 festival cars

Each community’s activities and events, as well as local attractions, restaurants, and lodging, can be found on the Blue Carpet Corridor website community pages. For maps, updates, news, and complete event schedules, go to www.bluecarpetcorridor.org and check www.facebook.com/BlueCarpetCorridor for updates.

Get involved! Check out the “Selfies on 66” photo contest open to US residents ages 18+.  For more information, contact the Illinois Route 66 Scenic Byway at 217-525-9308 or visit www.selfieson66.com today!!!

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Nostalgia is in High Gear at Gateway Classic Cars

Bill Beggs
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Attractions, Tourism Times

gateway_blog_bIn a magical land called O’Fallon, hundreds of antique cars come to life at Gateway Classic Cars. Actually, from a slew of classic Chevys to a least one collectible Jaguar, they’re not going anywhere right now. This impressive exhibition of rolling stock is on display in an expansive new building that allows each vehicle plenty of room for admirers or prospective buyers to walk around, peer inside, but please don’t touch!

Well, for a few grand their new drivers could make them roar to life. Meanwhile, antique car aficionados may appreciate them in all their two-tone glory, red fuzzy dice optional, at a standstill. The $3 admission fee is more than worth it. But just one visit won’t do justice to this fine collection.

About 140 cars, trucks and other rides are on display any given day, but this inventory is anything but static. John Busch at the showroom-cum-museum says about 85 percent of the cars on the showroom floor go home with new owners. Gateway doesn’t actually own any of them; they are there on consignment from their owners. And cars are switched out and transferred between the company’s nine stores (as of this May), so no two visits are the same. There are about 1,000 cars from which to choose throughout the company, from Houston to Fort Lauderdale to Chicago.

And these cars aren’t just boss… they’re, well, cherry.

gateway_blog_a

The information sheets on the inside of the windshields are all a labor of love by the sales staff—also curators or docents, if you will. There are no guided tours, at least not officially, but these folks really have a gas showing off these automotive wonders. They love their work, and they know their stuff, says Busch. The information on each vehicle is exhaustive, mostly because the owners know them so well.

“Not everybody here knows everything about all the cars, of course, but everybody knows at least something about each,” he says. Most are antiques, if you go by the yardstick of 25 years old or older. But there are some recent editions, too, mostly muscle cars from a few model years back.

OMG; you’ll want to have one all for yourself.

The brand-new building, opened about this time last year, is replete with a banquet area and conference center. About 29,000 square feet of convention or tradeshow space can be configured for gearheads and wannabes. Fundraisers and business meetings fit right in. There hasn’t been a wedding booked here yet, but just you wait. Meanwhile, a movie theater runs auto-themed movies whenever anyone is in the mood. It only seats eight… although in extremely comfortable recliners… but visitors can have a glimpse at, or kick back and take in, such high-powered fare as “Smokey and the Bandit”.

And the gift shop has been lovingly stocked with die-cast metal replicas, T-shirts, plus vintage signs and placards that evoke service stations from the middle of the previous century. You could spend half your time in here.

Visit today, or check out their website for a calendar of upcoming events!!!

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here to read it online or sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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April Showers Bring…May Events in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Events, Spring, What's Happening

There are over 50 great events happening in ILLINOISouth this May. Taking a look at the Calendar, here is a handful that stand out.

Locust Street Fair
May 2 • Centralia
Crafters & artisans, great food, beer/wine garden, antique car show, historic walking tours, historic train presentation, Independent Silver Band concert, and “Tintype” photography

Willoughby Farms Spring Farm Day
May 9 • Collinsville
Local vendors including stained glass, woodworking, homemade soap, toy tractors, bird feeders, rug loom, rope making and more; baby animals, sheep shearing, wool spinning, hayrides, straw pyramid, corn table, scavenger hunts, nature walk and more
wolloughby_hayride_lo

Spring Fest
May 14 – 17 • Toledo
FREE Barbecue, Queen Pageant, entertainment, car show and the annual Fireman’s Chicken Dinner

Art on the SquareArt on the Square
May 15 – 17 • Belleville
100 juried artists from all over the world, high school exhibit, entertainment, food & wine courts, demonstrations and children’s activities
(Visit us at our Monster Mural in the Children’s area!)

Carlyle Sailing Association Open House
May 23 • Carlyle
Tour the marina, ride along on several types of sailboats and kayaks

carlyle_sailing_lo

Jasper County Strawberry Fest
May 29 – 30 • Newton
Entertainment, music, games, food, crafts and all things strawberry
(Visit our online calendar for other Strawberry festivals in Ecekert’s in Belleville, Ruma and St. Jacob)

For more information on these and other great events this month, click here for our online calendar or click here to request your FREE copy of the Spring/Summer Tourism Times!

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April is all About the Arts in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Art, Attractions, Events, Shopping, What's Happening

“Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life.”
– Picasso

This April is all about the arts in ILLINOISouth.

See works from up-and-coming creators ranging from kindergarten to college at a student art exhibition. Take a raincheck on the latest blockbuster at the multiplex and catch live performances of classics like The Sting or Into The Woods. From gallery exhibitions and quilt shows to theatrical performances and concerts there is something for every palate.

We never cease to be amazed at the immense talent throughout our region – get out this month and see why!

Schmidt High School Show Winners

Schmidt Art Center High School Show Winners

High School Student Art Show & Life Experienced Senior Art Exhibition
Now – April 6
Schmidt Art Center at SWIC, Belleville

Fayette County Schools Art Show
April 2 – April 7
304 W. Main St., Vandalia

Clinton County Showcase Presents: The Sting
April 10 – April 19
Avon Theater, Breese

Perscription: Murder Presented by MASC
April 10 – 19
Capitol Theatre, Waterloo

Funky Butt Brass Band

Funky Butt Brass Band

Funky Butt Brass Band
April 12
St. Paul’s UCC, Belleville

The Blues Brothers Revue
April 12
Kaksaskia College Jane Knight Auditorium, Centralia

St. Louis Brass Band
April 12
The Hett at McKendree, Lebanon

Love, Laughs & Loss – One Act Plays
April 17 – 18
Lindenwood University, Belleville

Indian Market Days at Cahokia Mounds

Indian Market Days at Cahokia Mounds

Spring Indian Market Days
April 17 – April 19
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, Collinsville

Quilt & Craft Show
April 18
7405 Exchange Rd, Texico

Voices of Spring
April 19
St. Paul UCC, Belleville

Dunham Hall Theatre at SIUE

Dunham Hall Theatre at SIUE

Into the Woods
April 22 – April 26
Dunham Hall Theater at SIUE, Edwardsville

SWIC Student Art Show
April 23 – May. 14
Schmidt Art Center at SWIC, Belleville

Hansel & Gretel
April 24 – April 25
O’Fallon Milburn High School Auditorium, O’Fallon

It’s a Grand Night for Singing
April 25
Union United Methodist Church, Belleville

Musical Tapestry
April 26
Lindenwood University Auditorium, Belleville

Get more information about these and other great events on our online calendar!

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The Birds Are Back – Bald Eagles in ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
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Attractions, Events, Outdoors, What's Happening

It’s a bird, it’s a…no it’s actually a bird – a Bald Eagle to be specific. There’s lots of them flying around ILLINOISouth. Ever year in January and

February several of these majestic birds flock (get it?) to several places in the area to find food in lakes and rivers that aren’t frozen over.

Visitors from near and far come to several locations along the Mighty Mississippi to take a peek at our feathered friends. Look out spots like the Old Chain of Rocks Bridge in Granite City (Madison County) and the Jerry F. Costello Lock and Dam in Modoc (Randolph County) provide the perfect vantage point to catch a glimpse. Carlyle Lake (Clinton County), the largest man-made lake in Illinois, also attracts many Eagles along its

83 miles of shoreline. This year alone 100 were spotted during an annual two-day count. This continues a trend of increased eagle populations coming
to the area in the winter months.

In addition to eagle watching, several events are held each year in ILLINOISouth and surrounding areas, which give visitors a chance to learn about our National Bird. Along with educational opportunities and activities, many of these events typically give people a chance to get up close and personal with Eagles.

There are many other places in ILLINOISouth to spot Bald Eagles and other fascinating wild life. Where have you seen them? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook and Twitter.

For more information on annual eagle watching events, visit our online calendar, or check out the US Army Corps of Engineers site here.

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12 Big Christmas Events

Alex Matthews
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Events, Holidays, What's Happening

Ho Ho Hold on a minute…what are you doing this weekend (and the next couple for that matter)?

ILLINOISouth knows how to celebrate the season in style. Don’t take our word for it – we’ve combed through our event calendar and picked 12 unique festivities that will knock your stockings off.

1. White County Christmas
Weekends, Now – December 13
Downtown Carmi
It’s a White County Christmas featuring a Chocolate Tasting on November 21, Reindeer Run 5K and Festival of Trees on November 22 and Craft Shows on November 29 and December 13.

2. Christmas in Carlyle
December 5
Carlyle
The Christmas Season in Carlyle kicks off with a parade and fireworks.

3. Christmas on the River
December 5 – December 7
1331 Swanwick St., Chester
This year’s theme is All Aboard the Polar Express. The bell still rings for those who truly believe. Enjoy a lighted parade, craft show, quilt show, carriage rides and more!

rudolph and sam costumes

4. Holly Jolly Christmas
December 5, 12, 19
Newton, IL
Singer Burl Ives (aka Sam the Snowman in Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer) recorded Holly Jolly Christmas, which has inspired his hometown to plan this event every year. Puppet shows, carriage and wagon rides, carolers in period dress and Santa Claus are just a few of the activities.

5. Christmas Past
December 5 – December 21
Mascoutah Heritage Museum, Mascoutah, IL
Relive the Christmases of your youth! Enjoy the sights, sounds, and smells of the holiday season as you view historic Christmas cards, decorations and ornaments, listen to records on our Victrola, and look at our display of old-fashioned toys. You and your family can even have your picture taken in our Victorian parlor, decorated for the season. The Museum is open every Tuesday morning from 9:00 until noon, the first and third Sunday afternoons of the month, and on December 5th after the Santa Claus parade.

 christmas at the barn6. Christmas in the Barn
December 6 – December 7
Rainbow Ranch Petting Zoo & Exotic Farm, Nashville
Stop in to see the cows, sheep, donkeys, camel and other farm animals that are waiting for the Baby Jesus to be born.

7. Country Christmas Stroll & House Tour
December 6 – December 7
Okawville
Stroll the activities throughout town – includes a craft fair, “Festival of Trees” display, and flea market/vendor show. The House Tour includes area homes and a church. Museum sites open and decorated surrey rides available (weather permitting). Breakfast with Santa will be at 9am on Saturday.

christmas picture color

8. Old Fashion German Christmas
December 7
Maeystown
Participate in a traditional German holiday with music, food, carriage rides, shopping and more.

9. Christmas at Willoughby
December 7
Willoughby Farm, Collinsville
See a new side of Willoughby Farm: decorated for the holidays! Visitors will sip hot cider or hot chocolate and nibble on holiday sweet treats while visiting with Santa Claus in the farm house. Remember to bring your camera to snap a photo of Santa with your little one. Join un in the Bank Barn for a holiday sing-along while guests make ornaments to take home. From 1-4 p.m.

10. Christmas with Dickens
December 12 – December 14
Lebanon
Enjoy shopping, carolers and characters from “A Christmas Carol” while strolling the streets.

statehouse christmas 11. Statehouse Christmas Open House
December 13
Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site
The oldest surviving capitol building in Illinois is putting on its best holiday duds and throwing the doors open to the public. Visitors to the Vandalia Statehouse State Historic Site will find the building illuminated by more than 250 candles and trimmed with decorations appropriate to the 1840s, when a young Abraham Lincoln served there. Decorations include fresh greenery and fruits.

12. Christmas in the Park
December 19 – December 20
Charley Brown Park, Flora
Christmas in the Park features horse drawn carriage rides, little toot train rides, petting zoo, Santa Claus in the Santa House, lots of festive light displays and more!

LittleTootCaboose

Don’t forget to check out some of the other great holiday happenings in our area! There are several places to see plays and concerts in the coming weeks. Plus, who can forget the great light displays in the area? Many of them like the Du Quoin Holiday Lights Fair and the Way of Lights in Belleville have live entertainment and indoor activities for all ages!!!

What are you most looking forward to this holiday season? Tell us in the comments below or on Facebook or Twitter!

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Hot Java Warms ILLINOISouth

Bill Beggs
0 comments
Attractions, Food, Holiday Guide, Tourism Times

For some folks just hoping to wake up, the end justifies the means, so they grab a warmed-over cuppa joe at McDonald’s or a Casey’s, “to go.” (And don’t let the door hit you on the fanny on your way out.)

For a coffee snob, this just won’t do! They want their coffee to stay.

When the weather outside is frightful during a hectic holiday season’s hustle and bustle, the chill may encourage shoppers to beat feet from storefront to storefront. But our area’s one-of-a-kind coffee emporiums provide respite, a haven for as long as you want. While you sip the steaming, fragrant elixir of life, you can even compare gifts. (For who would dare embark on a retail therapy session alone? Humbug! )

Throughout the burgs and villes of ILLINOISouth are coffeehouses that will make you forget there was ever a premium coffee that starts with Star and ends with bucks. And most of these java joints serve freshly baked pastries that are “slap-your-grandma good.”

Red Roaster in MaeystownWe even found one place that roasts its own beans, the Village Kaffeehaus in Maeystown, via the Lil’ Red Roaster. But you’ll have to hold off on your fix until Saturday, because most places in this authentic German village aren’t open until the Wochenende (weekend).

Sacred Grounds in Edwardsville gets its beans from a St. Louis company called Mississippi Mud. Others use beans from fine roasters in The Lou such as Chauvin or Kaldi’s. But the important thing is what they do to the brew, whether you like it black or all frou-frou—a latte, mocha or cappuccino (gesundheit).

The baristas at Mokka Café in Columbia spice up their brews with pumpkin flavoring at Thanksgiving. But why stop there? They make pumpkin-flavored gooey butter cake and whip up a pumpkin-pie latte. Closer to Santa-time is when you can enjoy a peppermint mocha or gingerbread latte here.

Any coffeehouse worth its caffeine pays great attention to ambiance. (Read: art and interior architecture.) Mokka’s walls are done in pallet wood and corrugated aluminum. Artists do murals on the chalkboard wall; kids create their own masterpieces on a chalkboard table while their parents, who’ve finally dropped after shopping, may relax.

s Cup in OlneySacred Grounds, famed for its vegetarian menu, rotates works from local artists. Ophelia’s Cup in Olney does the same, often spotlighting elementary-school talent. They’ve displayed works by autistic artists. And you can help yourself to a book, as well as leave one or a few, in the shop’s book nook.

Not sure what the brew du jour is? Check out the Facebook page, which many stores update as often as daily, among them The Coffeehouse Co. in O’Fallon. Sacred Grounds in Newton prides itself on a different flavor every day.

And don’t be disappointed to find your caffeine dealer closed on this day or that. Java Joe’s Coffee House, the pride of Centralia, is shuttered Sundays and Mondays… just like most self-respecting local barbershops.

The Abbey doesn’t sound like the name for a coffee shop. Well, Belleville locals will tell you it’s all that, and more. Not only will you find fair-trade coffees and teas, but crafts from around the globe. The Abbey leads a bit of a double life, so if espresso has kindled a holiday romance, after 5 it’s time to warm it up with spirits and maybe a bit of mellow music, often live jazz.

The Abbey in Belleville

There’s no time like the holidays, of course. It’s the most wonderful time of the year, so let’s have some coffee, and tawk.

Click Here to find information on these and other great coffee houses and restaurants on our website.

This information originally appeared in the Tourism Times Seasonal Guide. Click here and sign up to receive three issues every year at no cost!

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Small Business Saturday ILLINOISouth

Alex Matthews
0 comments
Fall, Holidays, Sales, Shopping

We all know about Black Friday (quickly turning to black Thursday – much to our dismay) and Cyber Monday. These are days to kick-start your holiday shopping with deals galore on hot items from toys to TVs and everything in between. Over the last few years, more emphasis has been placed on keeping that money at home through SMALL BUSINESS SATURDAY promotions…and we couldn’t be more thrilled!

This Saturday, November 29, several communities throughout ILINOISouth are offering great promotions to attract shoppers. On top of that, stores and other businesses are offering great discounts on their best merchandise. It’s a win-win! You get to save, and in some cases even win money, all while supporting local shops and boosting the area’s economy.

Below is a short list of specials that people told us about, alphabetized by community.

Belleville

Eckert’s Country Store
One-day coupon to receive $10 off your purchase of $50 or more
Find it Here: http://www.eckerts.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/11/10-off-50-purchase-or-more-coupon.jpg

Fall Art & Craft Fair
Belle-Clair Expo Center, 200 S. Belt E., Belleville, IL
There will be over 400 exhibitors featuring crafts, holiday items, gifts, jewelry, decorations and much more.

Piece by Peace
132 W Main St, Belleville, IL
30% off of Harveys Handbags when you bring in canned goods to be donated to our local food bank.

TOCO (Tapestry of Community Offerings)
825 West Main, Belleville
Will be running 1/2 off all Holiday Merchandise

Carmi
Businesses in Carmi will offer deals to go along with the White County Christmas Celebration. Click here to find out more on their Facebook page.

Collinsville

Biegert Jewelers
113 West Main St., Collinsville, IL
20% Off on all Charles Albert Jewelry
20 % Off on all Frederic Duclos Jewelry
20% Off on all Estate & Antique Jewelry
25% Off all Bulova Watches

11th Annual Native American Holiday Market
Cahokia Mounds State Historic Site, 30 Ramey St., Collinsville, IL
Purchase holiday gift items made by Native American artists and crafters; jewelry, paintings, baskets, pottery, weaving, herbals, bronze work and more.

Greenville

Several businesses in Greenville will be offering deals as part of a city-wide effort.

Highland

Get out and shop and enter for a chance to win $100 Chamber Gift Certificate! Shop Local & Love it!

Click Here to grab the flyer on the Highland Chamber Facebook page and take it to participating businesses.

Mascoutah

Several Mascoutah Businesses will offer discounts. The Chamber of Commerce is also running a promotion throughout the Holiday Season. Visit MascoutahChamber.com for more information.

Mt. Carmel

The Wabash County Retail Merchants Committee is again doing “Win What You Spend” for Small Business Saturday. The promotion is very easy–simply make a purchase at any RMC store on Friday, November 28th, and/or Saturday, November 29th.  Sign the back of your receipt and drop it into a registration box that several stores will have.  The receipts will then be collected and winners will be drawn on Tuesday, December 2nd. You can enter receipts separately or staple several together. If your receipt/receipts are drawn, you will win that amount in RMC gift checks up to $250.

For a list of participating businesses, call the Chamber office (262-5116) or Sharon Harris at WSJD (263-4300).

Other offers include:
Hot Tees and Cool Vinyl
431 North Walnut St.
10% off hats

The Corner Apparel
335 North Market St.
10% – 30% off

Aly Mae Images
420 North Market St
Pictures with Santa

Tastee Freez
805 West 3rd St
Homemade chili, grilled cheese, and a 22 oz drink for $4.99
Buy any slushee at regular price, get same size free. Our flavors are green apple, blue raspberry, strawberry banana, grape, cherry, and lemonade. 2 for $5 sandwich special on fish sandwich, bbq ribblet, and the breaded tenderloin.

Waterloo

The City of Waterloo will be giving away $750 in Gift Certificates. Contest cards will be available at all participating merchants 1 week prior to deadline of entry, December 1, 2014. Enjoy the extra time to shop, browse and have your card stamped early. Rules for the drawing are: Contest Card must be stamped by each participating merchant, and you must be 18 years or older to enter. Completed cards can be dropped off at any of the participating merchants prior to deadline of December 1, 2014.

Participating Merchants:

A World of Difference
127 North Main St.

Bountiful Blossoms Floral & Gifts
121 South Main St.

The Clothes Line Boutique
123 West Mill St.

Diehl’s Floral & Gifts
726 Rogers St.

Helping Hands Thrift Store
695 North Moore St.

Merle Norman Cosmetics & Boutique
742 North Market St.

Mill Street Treasures
125 West Mill St.

Nice Twice Resale Shop
518 Park St.

Peterstown Heritage Society
275 North Main St.

Reiniger Jewelers
911 North Illinois Rt. 3

For more information contact Sarah Deutch: 618.939.8600 ext. 211

These are just the deals our partners let us know about. If you know of any other offers or promotions, tell us about it on Facebook, Twitter or in the comments below!

Don’t forget to pass this information along to your friends and family!

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