Champaign County Fair

The Champaign County Fair opens today with a full schedule and some new features. The stage has been revamped and the ever popular “beer tent” has experienced a makeover.

The Champaign County Fair sprawls across the fairgrounds in Urbana–just behind Carle.

There will be the good ole demo derby, livestock shows, horse races, queens on display, Democrats and Republicans, and lots of cotton candy.

One highlight this year on the main stage is “Blackjack Billy”–Friday night.

Uncork Urbana Wine Festival

Wine Urbana
The first ever wine festival in downtown Urbana is unveiled tomorrow!

Saturday June 14, 2014 is the premier of a new local festival in Champaign Urbana–and it gets rolling tomorrow in downtown Urbana. The Urbana Business Association is sponsoring the Uncork Urbana Wine Festival and it will likely become one of the most popular local summer events.

Here are some details:

  • It runs 1-9pm in downtown Urbana–in the Busey parking lot
  • Admission is only $10–you have to be 21– and includes a commemorative tasting glass and 5 tasting tickets. You can buy additional tasting tickets.
  • You can buy additional wine or beer –and all from local wineries and breweries
  • Entertainment will go on all afternoon into the evening

Tennis Camps at U of I

U of I Tennis
The U of I Nike Tennis camps will be at the Atkins Center on the U of I campus. Photo from the Fighting Illini site.

University of Illinois Tennis

One true strength of the Fighting Illini sports programs is the tennis teams–both mens and womens. Over the past 20-30 years there have been some excellent coaches and players through Champaign Urbana and we have been treated to some high level local tennis. The NCAA regionals were even hosted here two years ago

Local Tennis Camps

Now your child can benefit from this UIUC resource by taking in the Nike Tennis Camps at the University of Illinois. There are both Junior overnight as well as day camps and the location at the U of I Atkins Tennis Center is so convenient. The director is U of I women’s tennis coach, Michelle Dasso and her skilled camp team.

All skill levels are welcome and there is even a section for high school tennis players.

There are two sessions coming up soon. One on June 22-26 and the other July 20-24.

Register at or call 11-800-NIKE CAMP.


Letter From Birdland

Letter From Birdland
Letter From Birdland

This lovely little Champaign area blog is written locally–well in Birdland a few miles away by a woman with an eye and a heart for quiet moments on important things. Things that get lost in the clutter and noise of life.

Recent Letter From Birdland blogs are on milkweed–you know we need them in order for the monarch butterflies to survive.

Another was reprinted in the News Gazette and featured the Indianapolis Cultural Trail–didn’t even know it existed.

Mary Lucille Hays is the aiuthor of this fine site and periodically does writing workshops.

Illiniois Marathon Today

Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon route
Watch for these signs to alert you to Illinois Marathon runners today.

Christie Clinic Illinois Marathon

Today is the day as 21,000 runners take to the streets of Champaign Urbana for the running of one our area’s biggest events. Tons of info is available on the race website and you can even watch updates on local TV WCIA. it is called “The Extra Mile“.

If you are new to race day here are some pointers:

  • If you want to watch downtown Champaign is a good spot or just go to Memorial Stadium on the U of I campus
  • Watch out in traffic and relax. Look for a Illinois Marathon map and avoid those areas
  • Make a note to volunteer next year. The marathon site has an interactive map so you can volunteer in or near your neighborhood.

Illinois Marathon Results

There are two sites for race results. One is at the race site and the other is Illinois Marathon specific.

Have a great race day and enjoy the run!

New Micro-Urban Video

Envisioning Our Micro-Urban Future

Champaign Urbana is "micro-urban" and we have a vision!
Champaign Urbana is “micro-urban” and we have a vision!

Yesterday at Busey Bank’s annual seminar, Phyllis Wise introduced this crisp new video on the vision for Champaign Urbana. Coming on the heels of the micro-urban video that introduced the concept, this one is more concrete and describes many of the plans and ideas that we will see take shape here in the years to come.

The New Micro-Urban Video

So here it is –from the people at Krannert Center for the Performing Arts:

Fox in Champaign Urbana?

Yes fox have been seen in Champaign Urbana — increasingly in the past year or so.

  1. I recall that the first I saw was – no joke- down on Fox Drive several years ago. There is a bit of a protected area along the stream that runs parallel to this south Champaign area and the large Devonshire Park just south offers a bit of natural habitat as well. So it was not totally surprising to see this bushy tailed mammal in that area.
  2. The second fox I saw was last winter in the Clark Park area in Champaign. There was snow on the ground and here came a fox- actually several times -loping through the area in and out of back yards. Hunting I guess.
  3. Just recently near the Champaign Country Club, a mama fox with four kit were observed sunning and playing in a backyard. They have a den under the deck of a home near the golf course.

There is no huge caution with fox in Champaign Urbana except that they have been known to bite people at times and then there is the possibility of damage to foundations if their dens get large.

Fox in Champaign
Fox are in the Champaign Urbana area–even in residential soaces!


Champaign Spring Garden

Cut those blossoms off those pansies before planting--and float them!
Cut those blossoms off those pansies before planting–and float them!

We are due to get some serious rain the next few days and this is a perfect day to get some early spring garden in around Champaign Urbana. No joke- April 1 is not too early for some basic flowers and veggies.

Plant Pansies

If you are looking when to plant them- now or on October 1. Pansies like cool weather.

If you are wondering how to plant pansies here are the basics:

  • Get small healthy plants
  • Cut all the blossoms off- enjoy them in a flat bowl- its called “floating pansies”.
  • Plant in a pot in light soil.
  • Water and feed them and they should keep blooming- just keep cutting the old flowers off.

Another option today is to plant some greens or broccoli family veggies–like kale, chard, etc.

Pansies will bloom well until August if you cut off old blossoms, water well, and keep them in a cool place.
Pansies will bloom well until August if you cut off old blossoms, water well, and keep them in a cool place.


Champaign Public Library Problems

The Chamapign Public Library--this facility only open a few years and already having financial problems.
The Chamapign Public Library–this facility only open a few years and already having financial problems.

CPL Money Issues

Our local Champaign Library has money problems. There have been some other controversies over the past few years related to nearby community patrons paying for usage. Then there was the proposal to cut evening hours at the Champaign Library. The issue now is operating funds.

Solving the CPL Deficit

Various ideas have come up to help raise funds for the library:

  • Charging for parking
  • Imposing a fee for meeting room usage
  • They have a donate button on their site
  • They have already cut funds in 70% of their programs
  • Late fees have been increased
  • Staff positions have been left unfilled
  • Even the beloved bookmobile has been put in mothballs–this is serious!

The problem relates to increasing costs (even though they have been actually cutting costs since 2009) and decreased property values starting with the economic downturn of 2008.

The Champaign City Council is discussing this and the Champaign City Manager has recommended a one-time payment of $273,436 to CPL.

The Champaign Public Library continues to serve us despite severe financial issues.
The Champaign Public Library continues to serve us despite severe financial issues.



Hyatt Place in Downtown Champaign

They say it will be ready soon–and the rooms are being finished now. The new Hyatt Place in Downtown Champaign has seemed so long in coming and may well be ready for guests within a few weeks. Furniture has been unloaded according to their facebook page and the News Gazette ran a picture of their swimmimg pool with water in it last weekend.

Here are some update photos:

Seems not that long ago that this downtown Champaign corner was a hole in the ground!
Seems not that long ago that this downtown Champaign corner was a hole in the ground!
Need a Champaign job? Contact Hyatt Place- they are hiring.
Need a Champaign job? Contact Hyatt Place- they are hiring.