MENARD COUNTY, ILLINOIS: A GREAT DESTINATION!
Menard County, Illinois is a great destination for a vacation or weekend getaway. Lincoln's New Salem attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors each year to step back in time and experience life in the 1830s where Abraham Lincoln spent his formative years before moving to Springfield. Theatre in the Park features live performances throughout the summer in an outdoor theatre. Jim Edgar Panther Creek State Park offers fishermen, boaters, cyclists, hunters and nature lovers a chance to enjoy lakes, trails and native prairie.
Historic Petersburg and the towns in Menard County await you for live entertainment every week, amazing festivals and unique shops with some very special antiques. If golf is your game, the area has two beautiful golf courses. The Sangamon River provides great canoeing and kayaking. Hill Prairie Winery is the perfect spot to spend a Sunday afternoon with live music throughout the year and major festivals throughout the summer that you won't want to miss.
This website will also provide you with useful information on the other popular tourist sites, all within 30 minutes of Springfield and in a perfect venue to spend a few nights in our beautiful lodge, inn or beds and breakfasts. Our restaurants offer a wide range of delicious cuisines sure to suit your tastes. Please check out our web site in June for an expansive Entertainment and Events Guide and new videos will be added monthly. Plan a weekend stay in beautiful Menard County!
MENARD COUNTY TOURISM COUNCIL BARN QUILT PROGRAM
Barn quilts are large, 8’ x 8’ painted wood decorations hung on barns and other farm buildings. They often reflect quilt patterns, hence the name “barn quilts”. They are similar to hex signs seen on barns in western Pennsylvania and other areas, but are generally larger and of different design.
Here is how the program is planned for Menard County: a team of experts will provide core leadership for each quilt. We need an engineer or someone with construction experience to help with the actual assembly and hanging of each quilt. We need volunteer artists to convert a small design sheet into an 8’ x 8’ presentation, and do the actual painting. We need either volunteer organizations with high-lift equipment or else we end up paying sign hanging personnel to do the final installation. Student art classes and home school student groups have been especially helpful in other locations with barn quilt programs.
Each quilt design is at the discretion of the person owning the barn or building where it will be hung. The Ann Rutledge Quilting Guild has indicated they will be available to help in this regard. The design can reflect family heritage, farm history, patriotic themes, local history – whatever the owner prefers. Everyone else chips in to make the quilt happen.
Once constructed and hung, the quilt becomes the property of the barn or building owner. Therefore, payment for materials used in construction and for hanging (unless we get a volunteer crew) will be the responsibility of the barn owner. In other barn quilt programs in Illinois, those costs have run from about $250 to over $400 per quilt. Each farm owner maintains control over how close viewers can approach the quilt. Sometimes it will be from the road, and in other cases it might be in an area adjacent to the barn itself.
The owners of Indian Creek Farmstead on Curtis Blacktop are chomping at the bit to get this program up and running, and plan on being the first barn quilt owners in the county. They have also pledged to give up some of their space for a limited time for construction of barn quilts for other barn owners.
We now need people of Menard County to step forward and enlist in the effort. Anyone with construction experience, painting experience or anyone wanting to gain such experience will be welcome. We also need to hear from owners of farms or agriculture-related buildings who are willing to become part of the program. Each barn quilt must be hung on the side of a farm building in direct line-of-sight to a hard-surfaced road. If you are interested or want additional information, please contact the MCTC via email at VisitMenardCounty.com, or via USPS at P.O.Box 531, Petersburg 62675. A video on the Kankakee County barn quilt program is available on the MCTC Facebook page: facebook/visitmenardcounty.
Barn quilt programs and tours are significant tourist draws in counties where they already exist. The MCTC will eventually provide and update brochures and maps of barn quilt locations. As individuals or busloads of people follow these maps, they will be traveling through our county, seeing other sights available, and will end up spending dollars for food, gas, lodging, and shopping as they visit. Taxes on all of this spending helps with funding of local services, which is what tourism is all about.
Terror on the Square haunts Menard County
Don't miss Central Illinois' spectacular Terror on the Square Haunted House and other shenanigans. Open every year in late October - check back for exact dates.
Historic Lincoln Exhibit
(PETERSBURG, Ill.) -- A new exhibit entitled “Prologue to Presidency: Abraham Lincoln on the Illinois Eighth Judicial Circuit” will be on public display at various Menard County locations during July. Admission is free at the Athens, Greenview, Oakford and Petersburg exhibit locations.
Created by the Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Commission of McLean County, the collection is being made available by the Heritage Association of McLean County and the David Davis Mansion State Historic Site. The Menard County Tourism Council is coordinating display of the exhibit in Menard County, and each location will add unique historic elements.
The exhibit grand opening in Menard County will be Sunday, July 1st at the Athens Municipal Library, noon to 4:00 p.m. Terry Jones of the Illinois Historic Preservation Agency/New Salem will be speaker, providing local insight to complement the exhibit, and refreshments will be served by supporters of the Athens Municipal Library.
The Athens Municipal Library will also open its Heritage Room collection of historic documents and artifacts to the public during the grand opening event. The Lincoln exhibit will remain open to the public during normal library hours (10AM – 7PM) through Thursday, July 5th, with the exception of July 4th when the library will be closed.
Greenview will be the next site for display of the exhibit, opening at the Greenview Community Center on Monday, July 9th. While in Greenview, the exhibit will be supplemented by an additional display of local area historic interest, including the Marbold Farm and its planned renovation. The exhibit will be available from 8:00 a.m. to noon all week long, with additional afternoon hours to be determined. The exhibit closes in Greenview on Friday, July 13th.
The next stop for the exhibit is the Oakford Town Hall, opening Monday July 16th and closing Friday the 20th. The exhibit at this location will also highlight events of a historic nature involving the Oakford area, and will be open each evening from 4PM to 8PM.
Menard County’s final stop for the exhibit will be in the county seat, Petersburg. Opening on Sunday July 22nd at the Prairie Pallet Art Gallery on the west side of the Square, the exhibit will remain in place through Monday July 30th. The exhibit will be open from noon through 6PM each day.
For more information, visit www.VisitMenardCounty.com, website of the Menard County Tourism Council.
1/2012 - Tourism Council names New Board Officers for 2012 -The Menard County Tourism Council began 2012 with 4 new board members, out of 7 on the full board. All members of the board are actively involved in promoting tourism in Menard County, and all 4 new members of the board are taking on positions of specific responsibility.
Pictured here are Louise Brown of Greenview (membership committee), Andrea Marshall of Oakford (secretary), Glen Baum of New Salem (vice-president), K.C. Sullivan of Petersburg (president), and Shirley McCombs of Petersburg (membership committee chairperson). Not pictured are current board members Ben Kiningham (treasurer) and Dick Moss (membership committee). Andy Maxson serves the council and its board as executive director. The Menard County Tourism Council constantly seeks to promote bringing tourists into the county. We are always on the lookout for county events and functions that may bring people in, and have means to provide support through promotion of these events and functions. The Council can be contacted via email at tourism@VisitMenardCounty.com. The Council offers both business and individual memberships to those interested in promotion of Menard County as a tourist destination. Additional information can be found at our website, our Facebook page (facebook/VisitMenardCounty) and in the Tourism Council column that runs in The Observer and The Menard County Review. The first meeting of the full new board is scheduled for January 26th, a Thursday, at 7PM in the downstairs conference center at Riverside Lodge in Petersburg. Council meetings are open to the public and everyone is invited to attend. There is always an item on the agenda for public input.
11/2011 - The Christmas Season Begins -The end of November and beginning of December signals that it is time to crank out your money and get shopping for Christmas. Athens starts things off on the Saturday following Thanksgiving, November 26th. More than 19 locations in Athens, stretching all the way down to Cantrall, will be involved in a shopping expedition known as “Christmas in the Country”.
Petersburg's Christmas extravaganza runs three days, December 2nd through the 4th. Shops throughout town will be offering Christmas goodies and discounts. PORTA's Music Boosters are sponsoring a Christmas Bazaar at the high school on Saturday, December 3rd, featuring local crafts and vendors of all sorts in what is always a fun shopping experience. Doors open at 8AM and close at 3PM.
The Farm, located in the southern part of the county, is holding an open house of Christmas crafts and gifts on December 3rd (10 AM to 5 PM) and December 4th (1 – 5 pm). See http://visit-thefarm.com/ for directions.
Hill Prairie Winery in Oakford (http://www.hillprairiewinery.com/) will be the site of many entertainment events throughout the remainder of 2011. Mystery dinner theater on November 18th and December 16th and 17th. Live entertainment every Sunday until Christmas weekend, then again on New Year's Eve.
Make your shopping and entertainment plans early. The above events are not exclusive – there are many other options – read your local newspaper each week for more details. You can help the Tourism Council publicize your event by sending email notice to “tourism@VisitMenardCounty.com”.
Also, remember that not everyone has the means to set aside money for Christmas shopping for friends and family. As you go out this Christmas season, set aside what you can for those in need. Give to your church, to one of the local food banks, to toy and clothing donation programs like Christmas 4 Our Kids or Angel Tree. You cannot make a wiser or more rewarding use of your good fortune.
11/2011 - Focused Advertising Campaign -The Menard County Tourism Council (MCTC) is beginning a new advertising campaign which we hope will draw more tourists into Menard County. The advertising is available to business members of the Council at no up-front additional cost, but to participate you must be willing to honor discount certificates, described in more detail below.
We will design small batch, focused brochures for distribution to people or groups of people with a high possibility of visiting Menard County. For example, our initial plan is to distribute a brochure to Women's Clubs throughout the state. In this case, the brochure will emphasize the county's day trip (or two day trip) possibilities, including shopping, visiting parks and museums, touring the area's unique architecture, dining at some of our quaint cafes, etc. We will also point out activities which may stimulate interest, like horseback riding, canoeing, golf, and so on.
The very back page of each brochure will list business members of the MCTC agreeable to offering up a discount for visitors presenting the brochure. The business owner or manager will determine what discount will be offered. What you will have, in effect, is advertising tied directly to sales.
Brochures presented for discounts will be returned to MCTC. This way, we can get a look at how effective the advertising campaign is, and make adjustments down the road to make it better. Each event for which a brochure is printed will be different, calling for different approaches.
We also solicit you for ideas on who or what groups would make good targets for this kind of advertising. If you have a big event coming up which could draw people from afar, let us know as early as possible and we will consider doing a brochure specifically for your event. Mailing lists would also be helpful. In some cases, the target population might not be individuals coming to your event, but family members who might come along and engage in tourist activities while the person on your list takes part in whatever you are doing. We are limited only by our imaginations.
If you have a business in Menard County that could benefit from this advertising campaign, please email us at “tourism@VisitMenardCounty.com”or call 632-0014 and leave a message. That phone does not get answered on a regular basis, but is checked every day. You will be contacted with details on how to become a member of the MCTC and how to be added to the advertising campaign.
10/2011- Surviving the Winter of Deep Snow - In the winter of 1830/31, Central Illinois was hit by incredibly deep snowfall and an enduring cold spell of temperatures well below zero. Known as the Winter of Deep Snow, the white stuff measured 48 inches deep on level ground out of the wind. Where the wind blew, drifts piled up to twice that depth. Cut off from the rest of the world for weeks on end, how did our pioneer predecessors survive?
It wasn't easy, but they survived the way they survived every winter. They spent the fall season preparing for winter's desolation and cold weather, using survival techniques passed down from generation to generation. Although they were faced with particularly extreme conditions this one winter, preparations made for every winter led to survival in the worst conditions imaginable.
Many of these survival techniques were on display at Lincoln's New Salem Historic Site this past weekend. Houses were made as draft-free as possible so whatever warmth could be provided by the fireplace wouldn't be totally lost. Firewood was sought out and stockpiled. Warm clothes were prepared for everyone in the family.
Quilts were repaired or made anew. Wool was spun into thread for knitted goods. A large store of candles and soap were made from the tallow of rendered animal fat. A great deal of attention was given to food preparation. Fruits and berries became jams and preserves, which could be stored for quite some time. Root vegetables out of the garden were dried and stored in the family root cellar. Meats were salted for preservation, then taken out as needed and smoked. Fruits, vegetables and meats in storage needed near daily inspection and tending, enabling a sustainable winter diet.
Many people and animals did not survive the winter of 1830/31, but those who did can thank the work done in preparation of whatever winter threw at them.
10/2011 - Enjoy Illinois - Have you been sitting around on one of these beautiful autumn days, wondering what to do? Want to get the family outdoors, away from the TV screen? Tired of the same old thing, day after day and looking to get away? Try the Illinois Office of Tourism's web site for ideas.
The web site (www.enjoyillinois.com) offers up plenty of suggestions. Under the main heading of “Things to Do”, you can find information on cultural sites and events, attractions to visit, outdoor recreation, shopping, and sports Under “Getaways”, you will find opportunities for families, couples, friends, outdoor recreation, the arts, and playtime. You can find information on travel deals, and tools for setting up travel.
If you are looking for day trip possibilities out of Menard County, try the web sites' regional offerings. Most of Central Illinois is listed under the heading “Land of Lincoln”.
Enjoyillinois is also the name of a smart phone application available for both iPhones and android-based phones. This free application gives you access to the same information available on the web site, making it easy to drop whatever you are doing and get away for a bit.
The Illinois Office of Tourism got it right – Enjoy Illinois! - Submitted by Andy Maxson
9/2011 - What happens when you cross your skis with a history lesson? - This winter when deep snow falls, think about getting out for some cross country skiing at Lincoln's New Salem Historic Site. The village is surrounded by a large wooded area, containing three cleared trails each flat enough for cross country skiing. The best time to ski would be right after a suitable snowfall, while New Salem remains pristine.
Follow a day of skiing by putting your feet up for a rest at Riverbank Lodge in Petersburg and sip on something hot from the bar. There is much more to see in Petersburg other than New Salem, so a second day browsing through antique stores or lunching at one of the town's quaint resturants would be in order. Petersburg is the site of several historic homes, including that of Edgar Lee Masters (Spoon River Anthology).
There is work yet to be done (putting up appropriate signage, for example) but if you are looking for a quiet winter get-away, this is it.
9/2011 - Cruising the Rt. 97 Corridor - From north to south, Rt 97 in Menard County was full of family fun activities this past weekend. Some of these activities continue into the weekend of 8/9 October. If you weren't able to get out last weekend, you still have a chance to enjoy some the offerings. A sampling of photos of these events can be seen at Facebook/VisitMenardCounty.
The scent of freshly baked cookies and pies led straight to the side door of the Oakford Town Hall. Inside were several vendors of not only baked goods, but colorful arts and crafts of all descriptions. For the people of Oakford, their crafts are not a hobby – they are a passion. Oakford's Fall Festival continues on the weekend of 8/9 October.
Just south of Oakford, Hill Prairie Winery held its last festival weekend of the year, although there are many other events scheduled between now and year's end. The festival featured a fish fry and fried chicken, and two bands providing musical entertainment. Visit hillprairiewinery.com for details of coming events.
The Rt 97 Craft Show was held in the Pioneer Seed Building just north of R&H. Featuring another collection of arts and crafts, as well as more delicious baked goods, this craft show will continue on the weekend of 8/9 October.
Petersburg had much to offer over the weekend. One particular event was the current showing at the Prairie Palette Gallery on the east side of the square. Conceived and run by the PORTA International Problem Solvers, the gallery exhibits art works from several local artists. As always, this current showing is impressive in depth and professionalism. The gallery will also be open the weekend of 8/9 October. Check out theprairiepalette.com on the web.
Continuing south on Rt 97, The Farm held its annual Open House last weekend. The Farm features flowers and crafts made locally, beautifully displayed throughout the grounds. See visit-thefarm.com for more information.
9/2011 - October Saturday Night Special - Plans are afoot for a series of special family fun events during October, all on Saturday nights. Many of the events involve pumpkins, which are available at Loving Creations in the old hotel on the northeast corner of the square.
Oct 1st: The Jaycees are hosting a special evening for kids in Veteran’s Park. Many downtown stores are staying open until 7PM, and many dining establishments are open until 9PM. Hopefully, people making the Spoon River Drive will stop by on their way home.
Oct 8th: Lighting Up Petersburg. In coordination with the New Salem Candlelight Tour, streets leading into Petersburg and the town square will be lit up. Stores and restaurants will be open late, with a special prime rib buffet available at Gillmore’s and Stonebake between 6 – 9 PM. Starting about 4:30PM, there will be a BONFIRE in the empty lot behind Hardees. The bonfire will feature several activities for kids including face painting and ghost stories, pumpkin bowling, campfire songs led by the Menard County Singers, and eats for sale by PREP. The Petersburg Fire Department will be there to make sure nothing goes wrong, and to give everyone a chance to take a close look at their equipment.
Oct 15th: Stores and dining establishments will be open late, and the Plaid Rooster will be offering a special evening menu from 5 – 7PM.
Oct 22nd: Once again, stores and restaurants will be open late. Dairy Queen and OMGosh Bakery will be set up on the west side of Town Square, opposite Terror on the Square, serving a variety of food and drink.
Oct 29th: The Big Finale. The pumpkin decorating contest will be judged and awards given. In early afternoon there will be a pumpkin toss and other special activities, culminating with a family trick-or-treat parade around the square. The public is invited to bring lawn chairs down and enjoy the festivities. Watch this newspaper for more details on event times and locations.
9/2011 - Traditional Music Festival -Huge crowds poured into Lincoln’s New Salem Historic Site over this past weekend, drawn by the Traditional Music Festival, clog dancing, good weather and a park full of volunteer historic interpreters. People came from all over Illinois and several other states. Camp sites were full and local retailers were busy taking care of a larger than usual number of customers. Select photographs and videos of weekend events can be seen at www.facebook.com/VisitMenardCounty.
The Menard County Tourism Council loves weekends like this. Our mission, after all, is to encourage people to travel to Menard County, enjoy what we have to offer, and enhance local coffers through increased economic activity. More tourism means more income for local businesses, more jobs available in the county and increased tax revenue in support of local government (which means maintaining lower local tax rates).
You can learn about what the Tourism Council does to attract tourists at our regular monthly meetings, which are open to the public. The next meeting is 7PM, Thursday, September 22nd at the Greenview Community Center. Monthly meetings move about the county so everyone has a chance at attending locally. If you are interested, you can become part of what the Council does by joining as either a business member or individual/family member. If you have any questions or thoughts to offer, please send an email to the Menard County Tourism Council at firstname.lastname@example.org, or drop a letter to P. O. Box 531, Petersburg, IL 62675.
Upcoming September events: Harvest Fest in Petersburg, National Alpaca Farm Days at Alpacas of Indian Point Hills, Blacktop Braggin’ Rights football game in Athens and, of course, the Tourism Council’s monthly meeting in Greenview.