Aug 24, 2015

Scenes from the 2015 Decatur Celebration

One of the many things I admire about The April is the pride she has in her hometown of Decatur, Ill.  But even she had to admit that Decatur Celebration, version 2014, was rather disappointing, especially given the lack of variety in the food vendors last year.  But that experience did not deter The April from giving the street festival, held every year on the first full weekend in August, another chance.

Conceived in the head of Fred Puglia, the Decatur Celebration has been giving the citizens of their blue collar town located in the heart of Illinois something to get excited about for nearly 30 years.  So, yeah, if you’re from Decatur or anywhere nearby, it’s kind of a big deal.  Although I am not aware of any certain aspect of the celebration that specifically celebrates Decatur. 

Aug 16, 2015

Sampling Bites on the Boulevard

Every once in a while, someone – or some group of someones – in my hometown of Springfield, Ill., surprises me and comes up with a pretty great idea for the community.  Case in point:  the recent (OK, recent in terms of this blog) Bites on the Boulevard, the first-ever gathering of some of the most popular food trucks on the Springfield scene. 

The event was hosted by the MacArthur Boulevard Association, an organization that helps promote the ongoing revitalization of one of Springfield’s major shopping and traffic areas.  I’m a little partial to the cause since I lived so close to the area for many years.  And, of course, I love food.  It was the perfect event to draw my attention. 

Aug 4, 2015

A commoner drinks at Curly’s Sports Bar & Grill, Decatur, Ill.

There are dive bars, and then there are local institutions.  After one visit to Curly’s Sports Bar & Grill on Decatur’s north end earlier this spring, I think I can safely say Curly’s is both.  

How could you miss it, right?

A commoner dines at Baumgartner’s Cheese Store and Tavern, Monroe, Wis.

I wasn’t sure a place existed that could be the perfect representation of Wisconsin life, but then I traveled through Monroe, Wis., one week...