Looking for something fun to do with the family this Christmas Season?

reindeer ranch

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch in Rantoul is always a local favorite this time of year!  Just a $4 fee to get up close and personal with the reindeer.  The staff lets visitors pet and feed them while they provide a brief history about reindeer and answers any questions.  A lot of fun for the little ones! 

Hardy’s also has a very cozy gift shop….a great place to stop in from the cold. You can sit around a potbelly stove sipping hot cocoa that’s for sale and browse through the lodge and gift shop.

You can finish up your day at their Christmas tree farm. They have a pre-cut selection or you can cut your own if you prefer.

Hardy’s Reindeer Ranch: 1356 County Rd. 2900 N. – Rantoul, IL

Christmas Hours

November 22nd through December 23rd: 10 am – 7 pm daily

Christmas Eve: 10 am – 2 pm ( Closed Christmas Day )  

After Christmas hours: 10 am – 5 pm daily.   Our Last Day: December 28th

5 Nights of Hitch at The Virginia

Five Nights of Hitch

It is Halloween and the perfect time for some Alfred Hitchcock thrillers. And the setting for this weeklong Hitchcock film series is the lovely restored Virginia Theatre in the heart of downtown Champaign.

Tickets for the Hitchcock series can be purchased online or at the door and they are only $5. Shows are at 7p and 10p every night this week through Halloween.

Sunday in Champaign Urbana

Champaign Urbana Real Estate Open house
1908 McDonald in Champaign will be open this Sunday from 2-4 pm

One good way to see your way around Champaign Urbana and experience the neighborhoods is to visit some real estate open houses. They are free and they give you a way to get some ideas of what is available in the Champaign County real estate scene. Walking through homes for sale in Champaign Urbana is also a way to get some remodeling and decorating ideas for your own home.

You can get a listing of real estate open houses this weekend by looking at the News Gazette website or the Sunday print paper.

Here are two open houses of note this weekend:

902 West Church, Champaign

Champaign real estate open house
This lovely and stately home at 902 West Church, Champaign will be open this Sunday, 2-4p.

1908 West McDonald, Champaign


Dragon Fire Pizza

Champaign Food Truck
Dave and Christy Saam are the owners of this new food truck soon to hit Champaign Urbana called “Dragon Fire Pizza”- photo from the News Gazette

We have yet another food truck rolling onto the streets of Champaign Urbana–and may their tribe increase! A new custom built 20 ft trailer will serve up wood-fired pizza under the name “Dragon Fire Pizza“. Plans are for it to be out there pleasing our pizza loving taste buds by Veterans Day, 2014.

The pizza will be Neapolitan style and will feature a range of meat, veggie, spicy, and build your own options.


Dancing Dog- New Vegan Option in Urbana

vegan in urbana
The new Dancing Dog in Urbana is set to open October 20 with vegan entrees. From the News Gazette

The Dancing Dog Eatery and Juicery is getting set to open in downtown Urbana. The open date is set for October 20, and this will be the first all-vegan eatery in the area. The address is 126 West Main, Urbana–downtown Urbana just keeps adding new options!

Breakfast, lunch and dinner will be offered Monday though Saturday and then brunch on Sunday. Some of the dishes on the menu are black bean burgers, eggplant parmesan lasagna, and hummus plate. Add in some crepes, super salads, and cupcakes and you have some great vegan eating.

Drinks will include coffee from Columbia Street Roastery as well as teas, soda, beer and wine…all organic.




Uncorked at Krannert Tonight

Krannert Uncorked
The James Jones trio kicks of Krannert Uncorked tonight at 5p at KCPA on the U of I campus.

The Thursday after work event at KCPA is back for another season and it get rolling tonight at Krannert on the University of Illinois campus. The Uncorked at Krannert show (and drinks) start at 5p in the spacious lobby and its free. The series extends through the school year each Thursday afternoon.

Tonights kickoff group is The James Jones Trio is traditional blues band from nearby Danville. James Jones will whail away as you sip wine after work–don’t miss it!


2nd Annual Grease Sing Along

courage connection fundraiser
Grease is the feature at the second annual sing along fundraiser for Courage Connection.

Fundraiser for Courage Connection

It was a huge success last year–raised lots of money and was fun. Now it is back for the second annual and lets hope it goes on year after year. In just 10 days the storied confines of the historic Virginia Theatre  in downtown Champaign will be echoing with the much loved music of Grease.

Here are the details: Tickets can be purchased at the Virginia site or at http://courageconnection.org/ . The event is October 11 at 7:30 with VIP party at 6p.


Fighting Illini Football Lightning Delay

It was a first ever for Memorial Stadium at the U of I–a lightning delay. There were few fireworks on the field, just a few from the corners as the Illini scored, but lots of lightning in the skies. As the tailgaters gathered into Memorial Stadium, a few clouds formed in the west–a harbinger of a long afternoon–and evening!

NCAA regulations require that when lightening occurs within 6 miles there must be a delay of 30 minutes. University of  Illinois regulations set it at 8 miles, so for almost 2 hours the Texas State game was delayed. Here are some photos from our cub reporter:

University of Illinois
The game started with a TD for Illinois on the first play from scrimmage.
Texas State vs Illinois
Then a few clouds gathered and the fans expected a bit of rain as forecasted. Lets hope the Illinois Nebraska game can go on without rain–our Illini need to be able to pass the ball in order to have a chance!
Texas State vs Illinois
Quickly, clouds formed, sprinkles dropped and lightning was heard in the west.
Tailgating parking
The stadium was emptied, the clock was frozen in the second quarter and 1000s of fans stood under the east and west stands.
Tim Beckman at Illinois
The new south scoreboard at Memorial Stadium made it clear–you must leave the stands. and take cover.
U of I
University of Illinois police and other law enforcement people made sure all was clear before the crowd was allowed to return to Memorial Stadium.

This weekend Illinois plays Nebraska in Lincoln and rain is forecasted–lets hope no lightning!

Brick Streets in Champaign

Champaign Brick streets
Both Champaign and Urbana have bricks stockpiled for future repair of existing brick streets–and important part of local history!

One of the things we have as a part of our local history is a significant number of brick streets in near west side Champaign and in certain Urbana neighborhoods as well. Dan Corkery wrote about this in last Sunday’s News Gazette. He opened with the line. “I’m a sucker for brick streets”. And I would have to agree.

They stand the test of time, they resist the destructive forces of freeze and thaw we encounter, and they sound so good as you drive them. So why have most been replaced? First of all they are costly. Secondly they don’t do as well with todays heavier vehicles and truck traffic.

Champaign has 8 miles of these antiquated roadways and their future is assured in that they are in historic districts near downtown Champaign. Much of the credit for saving what we have for brick streets is due to preservationist and former Champaign mayor Dannel McCollum.

Dannel McCollum
Dannel McCollum–the brick man of Champaign.


Real Estate Open House in Urbana

Urbana real estate
This fine home in quiet Urbana is open for you to see this Sunday 2-4p.

904 S Carle in Urbana is open for you to see this Sunday 2-4pm. This vintage home is listed for 184,900.

This home is right on Carle Park, is close to the University of Illinois, and has 3 bedrooms and  1 1/2 baths.

A real estate open house works like this:

  • there is no charge
  • we answer your questions about the home or any other real estate in the area
  • you get a chance to interact with one of our real estate pros

So drop on by and have a look!