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Farm Bureau

summer 2012


A quarterly magazine for members

Little Gardens in the

Big City Chicago neighborhood gardens sprout veggies, community spirit

Watch Them Grow Suburban moms tour farms, share their experiences

Sweet Corn Recipes: We’re All Ears

Jar Star Leepy’s Country Gourmet preserves home canning


This Issue at a Glance 2 1 4

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No Tipping Thank you for telling me that cow-tipping is a myth. I had read about someone doing that, and I thought it sounded like a silly thing to do. I’m glad to see that it is impossible to tip a cow! I was not raised on a farm, so I never heard about tipping a cow until I read about it somewhere. I’ve learned a lot from your magazine, which I get because I use COUNTRY for my house insurance. Cora A. Bales Danville, Ill.


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1. Drendels dairy farm in Hampshire page 12 2. Pretzel City Festival in Freeport page 30

Editor’s note: We’re happy to have been able to teach you a thing or two about farm life. In this issue, Illinois dairy farmer Linda Drendel covers cow-tipping and other questions from non-farmers who toured her farm as part of the Illinois Farm Families program. Turn to page 16 to read our Q&A with her.

Restaurant Redux America’s Historic Roundhouse [“Travel: Aurora,” Fall 2011] has undergone new ownership and a

name change. Purchased by Jim and Jason Ebel of Two Brothers Brewing Company in Warrenville, the Aurora restaurant and entertainment complex is now called Two Brothers Roundhouse. For more information, please visit Thanks to reader Gabe Nanni for alerting us to the change.

write to us Email us at We welcome any feedback, story ideas, gardening questions or recommendations for our events section.

3. Perry Pioneer Days page 31 4. Blossoms at Butterworth Center & Deere-Wiman House in Moline page 30 5. Kayaking in Quincy Bay page 6 6. Summer fun in Carbondale page 26 7. Leepy’s Country Gourmet Foods in Jonesboro page 18 8. Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues Festival in Bloomington page 31 2

Illinois Farm Bureau


Features 8 Little Gardens in the Big City Chicago neighborhood gardens sprout veggies, community spirit


12 Watch Them Grow Chicago-area moms tour Illinois farms, share their experiences

18 Jar Star Leepy’s Country Gourmet cultivates a small business in home-canned fruits and vegetables

Every Issue

26 Travel Illinois: Carbondale

5 prairie state perspective

Spend a weekend in this charismatic college town

Wisdom, youth mix in father-son partnerships

6 Almanac Learn which apple variety is Illinois’ official state fruit

17 country wisdom Find financial certainty in uncertain times

20 recipes Versatile sweet corn stars in salad, salsa and side dish

24 Gardening Grow the Illinois version of the English cottage garden

30 summer Events See the midway and more at the Illinois State Fair in Springfield


On the cover Georgia Milner at the Howard Area Community Garden in Chicago Photo by Antony Boshier

more online Watch videos, read stories and browse photos at

Summer 2012


Volume 5, No. 2


Farm Bureau


An official member publication of the Illinois Farm Bureau

Visit our website for videos, stories, recipes and much more






Publisher Dennis Vercler Editor Dave McClelland Associate Editor Martin Ross Production Manager Bob Standard Photographic Services Director Ken Kashian President Philip Nelson Vice President Rich Guebert Jr. Executive Director of Operations, News & Communications Chris Magnuson

Managing Editor Jessy Yancey Proofreading Manager Raven Petty Content Coordinator Blair Thomas Contributing Writers Joe Buhrmann, Charlyn Fargo Ware, Cathy Lockman, Jessica Mozo, Jan Phipps, Joanie Stiers Media Technology Director Christina Carden Senior Graphic Designers Laura Gallagher, Vikki Williams Creative Technology Analyst Becca Ary Photography Director Jeffrey S. Otto Senior Photographers Jeff Adkins, Brian McCord


Staff Photographers Todd Bennett, Antony Boshier Web Creative Director Allison Davis

Feeling Corny? Corn covers more of Illinois’ farmland than any other crop, yet you’ll need to find a backyard garden for some corn on the cob. Learn the difference between field corn and sweet corn, plus other fun facts about this top crop, at

Web Content Manager John Hood

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Accounting Diana Guzman, Maria McFarland, Lisa Owens

Web Project Manager Noy Fongnaly Web Designer II Richard Stevens Web Development Lead Yamel Hall Web Developer I Nels Noseworthy Ad Production Manager Katie Middendorf Ad Traffic Assistants Krystin Lemmon, Patricia Moisan I.T. Service Technician Daniel Cantrell Database Manager/IT Support Chandra Bradshaw County Program Coordinator Kristy Duncan

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Receptionist Linda Bishop Chairman Greg Thurman President/Publisher Bob Schwartzman Executive Vice President Ray Langen Sr. V.P./Operations Casey Hester Sr. V.P./Sales Todd Potter Sr. V.P./Agribusiness Publishing Kim Holmberg V.P./Visual Content Mark Forester V.P./External Communications Teree Caruthers V.P./Content Operations Natasha Lorens Controller Chris Dudley

Sizzling summer recipes from garden to grill.

Distribution Director Gary Smith Illinois Farm Bureau Partners is produced for the Illinois Farm Bureau by Journal Communications Inc., 725 Cool Springs Blvd., Suite 400, Franklin, TN 37067, (800) 333-8842. All rights reserved. No portion of this magazine may be reproduced in whole or in part without written consent. Illinois Farm Bureau Partners (USPS No. 255-380) is issued quarterly by the Illinois Agricultural Association, 1701 Towanda Ave., P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL 61702. Periodicals postage paid at Bloomington, IL 61702 and additional mailing offices. The individual membership fee of the Illinois Agricultural Association includes payment of $3 for a subscription to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners. POSTMASTER: Send change of address notices on Form 3579 to Illinois Farm Bureau Partners, P.O. Box 2901, Bloomington, IL, 61702-2901. Member Member

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Illinois Farm Bureau

prairie state perspective about the author Joanie writes from Western Illinois, where sometimes four generations of her farm family – from toddler to toddler’s great-grandpa – are in the same cornfield at harvest.

Family Ties Wisdom, youth mix in father-son farm partnerships A young farmer in his 20s once talked to me about satellite-guided tractors and computer mapping systems for a newspaper story about farm technology. He called back, having thought more about what impacts his multigenerational farm. He said the most valuable guidance on his farm had nothing to do with satellites; rather, it was the wisdom from previous generations. With Father’s Day on the horizon, it seems appropriate to highlight the father-son partnership, one of the most common ownership structures of Illinois farms. Fathers and sons farming together should be easy to find in any county of the state, as 94 percent of Illinois’ farms are owned by families – most often generations of families. The various combinations of spouses, parents, children, nieces, nephews and cousins share similar goals and values, yet carry their own uniqueness. And while not all father-son business relationships are the same, I have been around some of the healthiest. My dad and brother regularly lighten their farm duties with movie quotes, combining their shared enjoyment for the big screen with their passion for farming – an “in their blood” type of passion that started nearly at birth. Generally, self-employment offers the opportunity for a business to train an employee or business partner from the moment they learn the ABCs. Fathers expose their interested children to farming tasks at an early school age, teaching safety first, such as how to put the tractor in neutral, set the safety stops on equipment or approach a

Summer 2012

pen of cattle. They often work on jobs side by side until the child shows some independence in a task. They learn to share similar work ethics and viewpoints, which creates unity in the business. The level of trust intensifies, and the father knows the son’s capabilities, as he was trained from an early age. Yet both admit they’re still learning and they may disagree at times. Still, more than one opinion can lead to better decisions. The partnership is a good mixture of wisdom and youth, especially with today’s farm technologies. It’s where fresh ideas meet proven results. A son told me he recalls as a child marveling over his dad’s strength. The father feels proud watching his son grow and share his life’s passion and choosing to farm when the opportunity was presented. Meanwhile, a farm mom told me she gains satisfaction observing a healthy father-son relationship develop and seeing that it’s working as envisioned. Not all family partnerships are rosy. Ideally, you can run the business and still enjoy Thanksgiving dinner together. Multigenerational ownership of the farm is motivating. The family connection makes the farm more than just a job. They possess the mutual feeling to please the other with how they plant a field or conduct the livestock chores. After all, their successes and failures are intertwined. The partnership makes them think about the future, the next generation and how their actions today can make the farm better tomorrow.



Vertical Vegetables These gardens are reaching great heights. At Chicago O’Hare International Airport, 26 aeroponic grow towers were installed last year. Aeroponic refers to a method of hydroponic vertical gardening in which seeds are planted in small cubes of nutrient-dense spun volcanic rock, which holds in water and naturally biodegrades. The garden towers at O’Hare grow a variety of herbs, chives, lettuce, habanero peppers and green beans. Many of the plants are harvested and served at airport restaurants including Wicker Park Seafood & Sushi, Tortas Frontera by Rick Bayless and the Wolfgang Puck Cafe. Read more about how vertical gardening works at

Fruits of Your Labor Home gardeners interested in growing fruit trees should be sure to pick a species that does well in the Illinois climate. First, consider where you are located in the state. Crops such as peaches, nectarines and sweet cherries won’t withstand the extreme winter conditions of Northern Illinois, but they typically perform well in the central and southern parts of the state. Apricots also struggle in Northern Illinois because they bloom early in the spring, making them susceptible to frost. The best tree fruits for the northern part of the state are apples, pears, sour cherries and plums. If you’re planting in a small space, choose a tree fruit variety that is grafted on dwarfing, semi-dwarf or seedling rootstocks because these require less room to grow. For the planting location, keep in mind that all fruit trees prefer sunlight. Some may grow in partial shade, but the quality of your fruits won't be as high. To avoid potential frost damage, plant the tree in well-drained soil on higher terrain. Soil pH ranging from 5.6 to 7.0 is best for fruit crops. Find more fruit tree tips at

Beat the Heat When the temperatures hit summer highs, make sure you’re taking proper precautions to avoid heat exhaustion and heat stroke when working outside. • Avoid extended exposure to direct sunlight between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. As much as possible, limit your outdoor work to morning and evening hours. • Take frequent breaks in the shade or in an air-conditioned facility. • Drink plenty of fluids regardless of your activity level. Don’t wait until you're thirsty. • Protect yourself from the sun by wearing a wide-brimmed hat and sunscreen.


Illinois Farm Bureau

Have a Row Explore the scenic Quincy Bay this summer on a two-hour guided kayak tour. Certified guides will provide instruction on the basics of kayaking before you take off on your journey. You’ll get great views of the bay and also learn about the Mississippi River and its river life. Tours begin and end at All America Park in Quincy on the second and fourth Saturdays, June through September. Tours begin at 9 a.m., 11 a.m. and 5 p.m. Reservations are required. For the more experienced kayakers, rentals are available. To learn more and to make reservations, call the Quincy Area Convention and Visitors Bureau at (217) 214-3700.

Farm Focus: Apples Illinois' official state fruit is the goldrush apple – a long-keeping, sweet and tart variety with a rich, spicy flavor. This greenish-yellow apple, which occasionally gains a golden bronze to red blush at harvest, was developed by the disease-resistant apple breeding program of the University of Illinois, Purdue University and Rutgers University in New Jersey. Learn more about apples with these facts:

• The United States grows more than 2,500 apple varieties, but only the crabapple is native to North America.

• Apples contain no fat, sodium or cholesterol and are a good source of fiber.

• Apple trees take four to five years to produce their first fruit.

• Apples ripen six to 10 times faster at room temperature than if they are refrigerated.

• Apple varieties range in size from just larger than a cherry to as large as a grapefruit. The largest apple ever picked weighed three pounds. For more apple trivia, visit

Harvest for All Illinois Farm Bureau took top honors among other state Farm Bureaus for raising the most funds and contributing the most volunteer hours in 2011 in the Harvest for All program, which provides food for individuals and families across the country through the Feeding America charity. Hours volunteered by the Illinois Farm Bureau totaled 4,000. In all, the Illinois Farm Bureau’s farm and ranch families raised more than $556,273 and donated more than 10 million pounds of food last year.

Summer 2012

For the Dogs Your dog will want a bite of these deliciously healthy treats. Maggie’s Munchies in Park Ridge offers a wide selection of freshly baked, preservative-free dog treats with no artificial flavors or colors. Since 2001, the company has catered to dogs that have allergies and weight or medical issues, and each year Maggie's Munchies develops a new treat to accommodate the pets’ changing needs. Products range from beef and bison chews to dog cookies, muffins and a large dog treat selection. The treats include peanut butter bites made of peanut butter, wheat flour, soy flour, baking powder, salt, sugar and milk; and banana biscotti, made with white flour, banana, egg, vanilla, vegetable oil and baking soda. Maggie’s Munchies’ products are sold at local farmers’ markets in Palatine, Lake Forest, Mundelein and Long Grove. For a full product line that lists all ingredients and dietary restrictions, as well as opportunities on where to buy, visit www.


Little Gardens in the

Big City Chicago neighborhood gardens sprout veggies, community spirit

storY BY

Cathy Lockman Boshier



Illinois Farm Bureau

Mary Morgan admires her plot in the Howard Area Community Garden, one of more than 600 neighborhood gardens in Chicago.

Summer 2012



hree years ago, the corner of Calumet Avenue and 51st Street in Chicago was a vacant and neglected lot that Latrice Williams walked by every morning on her way to work. Today, that lot, and Williams’ work life, have undergone a transformation. The eyesore at the corner is now the attractive, bustling Bronzeville Community Garden, and Williams is a stay-at-home mom who volunteers as the garden’s outreach coordinator. The Bronzeville project is one of more than 600 community gardens across the city and part of a growing trend across the country to develop green space in urban areas. For communities like Bronzeville, the newly converted green space serves a variety of purposes, from educational to practical to just plain fun. For instance, the garden’s 12 oversized vegetable beds and surrounding perennial plantings are tended by a lead gardener from the neighborhood assisted by local high school students, giving them the unique opportunity to employ agricultural practices in the heart of the city. Additional neighbors help at harvest time, and the garden’s produce giveaway allows the whole neighborhood to share the healthy bounty. A chef’s pavilion built in the garden’s center provides a nutrition focus by hosting cooking and preservation demonstrations using the garden’s produce. But vegetables and flowers aren’t the only things taking root in the Bronzeville Community Garden. “This has definitely become a community gathering space with multigenerational appeal,” Williams says. “Young and old have a sense of ownership about the space and use it for gardening and much more.” The “much more” includes game

tables made from recycled tree stumps, a performance patio, a lifesize chessboard, a large communal dining table, art installations and a butterfly sanctuary. Planned additions include a farm stand project and even yoga and other exercise opportunities. “It’s a safe, fun place close to home where neighbors can come to play, learn or just enjoy,” Williams says proudly. A Growing Grassroots Movement The success of community gardens such as Bronzeville encourages other would-be urban gardeners to explore the possibilities for themselves. And they don’t have to do it alone. In the Chicago area, for instance, organizations such as NeighborSpace can help. A nonprofit organization that supports the efforts of community groups who have a plan for an urban garden or open space project, NeighborSpace was established in the 1990s to help groups acquire and preserve community-managed open spaces. “It’s a grassroots movement,” says Ben Helphand, executive director of NeighborSpace, who explains that it grew out of a comprehensive plan by the Chicago Park District, the city, and the Cook County Forest Preserve to assess “open space deficiencies and opportunities in the city.” As community groups took on the challenge of responding to those opportunities by planning neighborhood garden and park projects, NeighborSpace took on the task of acting as a land trust, so that community leaders and organizations didn’t have to shoulder the

responsibilities of acquisition, ownership and liability for the property. Currently, NeighborSpace has 81 sites across the city and continues to grow. “We encourage people to keep an eye out in their neighborhood and to come and talk with us if they see unused, overgrown land and have a vision to create a new garden or open space there,” Helphand says. CookFresh™ in Cook County The Cook County Farm Bureau is another resource for community gardens. In addition to providing practical expertise on gardening, horticulture and agriculture, the Farm Bureau sponsors CookFresh™, a new program that offers financial assistance for urban garden development. Four CookFresh™ grants of $300 each were awarded this year “as a way to encourage the establishment of new community gardens and the expansion of existing ones,” says Bob Rohrer, manager of the Cook County Farm Bureau. “These grants come in the form of certificates that are redeemable at various Farm Bureau member gardening businesses. It’s a way to link our local farmers, who have a great deal of expertise they can share, with our associate members who are non-farmers but have an interest in urban gardening projects.” And projects don’t have to be as ambitious as the one in Williams’ neighborhood to reap important benefits beyond beautification, education and enjoyment. “Individuals who are involved in urban gardening come to understand what it takes to maintain plants and grow food,” Rohrer says, “and that leads to a greater appreciation for the work that farmers do every day on a much larger scale.”

Clockwise from top left: Guadalupe Garcia cares for carrots at the Bronzeville Community Garden; Georgia Milner picks produce at the Howard Area Community Garden; Ya Chhan shares some herbs with Milner; Frankie Machine, like Howard, partners with the nonprofit NeighborSpace.


Illinois Farm Bureau

Plant Ideas, Sow Success W

ould-be urban gardeners who have questions about how to develop the open space in their neighborhood can turn to a variety of experienced partners for advice, tips and ideas. If you have a vision for a community garden, the following organizations can help you execute it. To connect with existing community gardens, or for general information on how to get started growing a garden in your neighborhood, contact GreenNet at For questions about and support in land acquisition, ownership and liability, reach out to the nonprofit NeighborSpace at (312) 431-9406 or NeighborSpace acts as a land trust for a number of Chicago community gardens. To link with the local farm community for advice and expertise, call the Cook County Farm Bureau at (708) 354-3276, or visit its website at

Summer 2012



Illinois Farm Bureau

Watch Them

Grow Chicago-area moms tour Illinois farms, share their experiences Joanie Stiers PHOTOGRAPHY BY Ken Kashian & Jeffrey S. Otto storY BY


isits to Illinois farms have debunked a Chicago-area mom’s storybook notions of farms and instilled in her the confidence to question some food marketing tactics. “Being on this side – a consumer living in the big city – there is so much I don’t know,” says Amy Hansmann of River Forest, nine miles west of downtown Chicago. “It’s making me ask smarter questions about what I’m eating.” Hansmann, a wife and mother of two boys, ages 4 and 1, understandably has lots of questions about food and modern

agriculture. She’s a concerned mom and has limited farm knowledge. Her closest connection to the farm was a childhood family friend and her travels to college on Interstates 80 and 88 through farm country. That’s why the “field moms” program through Illinois Farm Families (IFF) spoke to her. She applied and became one of nine moms in the inaugural class last year. City Meets Farm The field moms program is a developing success story of the IFF coalition. The program gives city moms the opportunity to visit Illinois farms, make observations and

Top right: Participants in the Illinois Farm Families field moms program, including chef and caterer Joelen Tan and stay-at-home mom Amy Hansmann, learn about modern milk production and animal care on the Drendels’ dairy farm in Hampshire. Bottom: Linda Drendel feeds one of the calves on her farm.

Summer 2012

Illinois Farm Families is a coalition made up of farmers from Illinois Farm Bureau and Illinois Beef, Corn, Pork and Soybean Associations. They are opening their farms, having conversations with consumers and answering tough questions about food while also exposing consumers to farm lifestyles and other aspects of the modern-day farm.


Amy Hansmann, far left, and the other field moms listen as Dale Drendel answers their questions about his farming practices.

ask questions about food and farming directly to the farmer, says Carla Mudd, manager of consumer communications for the Illinois Farm Bureau. In the course of a year, the field moms will visit multiple farms, encompassing beef, dairy, pork, corn, soybeans and

The idea is that whatever these nine moms think about is probably what most moms think about, Mudd says, so sharing that message is important. For example, Hansmann used to look at labels in her grocer’s milk cooler weekly and wonder which gallons would be best for her family. She questioned a jug’s contents and the variety of prices and wondered if higher prices meant better milk. That confusion ended after visiting Dale and Linda Drendel’s family dairy farm in Northern Illinois. She learned that regardless of labels and prices, milk has the same health and nutritional value, and that all milk, by law, is free of antibiotics. “These people are producing the milk on their farm, and they are going to the store and buying the same milk I’m drinking,” she says. “I took comfort in that.”

“By having these conversations, we are opening people’s minds about how food is being grown and raised today. ” – Carla Mudd, Illinois Farm Bureau specialty crops. They take pictures and videos and then post them. They form their own opinions and state them, often through personal blogs and at the field moms hub, 14

Illinois Farm Bureau

Debunking Stereotypes


he field mom experiences have broken down some preconceived notions about farms, and Chicago-area mom Amy Hansmann is telling her friends: Not all farms have traditional white houses and red barns as depicted in children’s picture books. Farms often support several households. Many farmers have college degrees. And farmers have access to an impressive amount of technology. In fact, Hansmann found the technology “fascinating” in its ability to collect data, control costs, use fertilizer precisely and reduce environmental impact. “I expected the farm family and a couple hired hands working together,” she says. “What I actually got was an incredible amount of technology, huge farm equipment and modern facilities.”

More online Join the conversation, follow the field moms, and ask a farmer your questions at

Farmers Welcome Moms Farm mom and seventh-generation farmer Linda Drendel last fall was among the first Illinois farmers to host the field moms. The Drendels and their farm’s veterinarian fielded questions about growth hormones, antibiotics, calf care, calf vaccinations, the milking process and simply how it feels to be a farmer. The moms appreciated the tour and the opportunity to hear from the farmers, who provided honest answers in an era of conflicting information from TV shows, magazines and online sources. Through it all, Drendel learned that consumers are eager to listen. She also became more aware of how people are often many generations removed from farms, solidifying the need to open their farm to consumers. “Now we realize the consumers – rightly so – are asking questions,” Drendel says. “We are more than willing and wanting to put our message out there that all milk is safe, healthy and nutritious for families.”

Summer 2012

Conversations Continue Through these field moms farm tours and “Mom Meet-Ups,” where city moms and farm moms come together simply for conversation, the quantity of information the field moms have absorbed is apparent, Mudd says. They are asking more detailed, intense questions. In fact, Hansmann is poised to ask more specific questions about subsidies and artificial growth hormones. “When I started with this program, I was really interested in learning details of how my food is produced and wanting to know what is going into my food, such as hormones, antibiotics, preservatives or pesticides,” Hansmann says. “After being involved in this program, I am asking different questions, including what is inf luencing my buying decisions. “The path from farm to store seems a lot more crowded than I ever realized,” she says.


Q&A With a Farmer Dairy farmer Linda Drendel recalls questions asked by the field moms June Dairy Month This month-long celebration of all things dairy originated as a way to help distribute extra milk during the warmer season when cows are at pasture, according to the Midwest Dairy Association. Today, many dairy farms open up their gates to the public during June Dairy Month to educate visitors on modern milk production. To learn more about dairy month events and ways to celebrate, go online to

Linda Drendel, dairy farmer and farm mom of Hampshire gave the field moms a tour of her farm in 2011. The Drendel family milks 150 Holstein dairy cows, cares for 150 calves and heifers, and grows corn, soybeans, hay and wheat. Do hormones affect the quality of milk? BST is a hormone found naturally in cows that stimulates milk production; rBST is an U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA)-approved, manufactured form that enhances milk production in a cow. Studies show that milk from cows treated with the supplement is the same wholesome product that we have enjoyed for generations. This has been affirmed and re-affirmed by the FDA and other leading health organizations. During the farm visit from the field moms, our veterinarian assured the moms that there is no health risk to them or their families by drinking milk that is not labeled

Dale and Linda Drendel


as rBST free. Dale and I raised our family drinking milk from our farm, knowing that all milk is wholesome, safe and nutritious. How do you care for calves? Cow care and calf comfort are very important to us on our farm. We provide safe and clean conditions for both the mother and her calf during and after the birthing process. Calves receive individual attention away from their mother soon after their birth to ensure their safety and to keep them warm and dry. We bottle-feed the calf the mother’s first milk, colostrum, within the first several hours after its birth and give the calf vaccines to promote its natural immunity. Our calves, free to frolic in their pens, have water and feed in front of them, and I watch them carefully to make sure they are well and content. Do you use antibiotics? Is that safe for my family? Sometimes it is necessary for us to treat cows with antibiotics when they are sick, just as we need medication when we are sick. The milk from a cow being treated for illness is separated from the milk supply until that cow’s milk is clear of antibiotics and ready to re-enter the bulk tank. Milk is strictly tested for antibiotics on the farm and at the processing plant. During the field moms’ farm visit, our veterinarian assured the moms that any milk that tests positive for antibiotics cannot be sold to the public. Milk and dairy foods are among the most highly regulated foods in this country. Is cow tipping for real or a myth? A myth! Cows do not sleep standing up, and who could sneak up on a 1,500-pound cow and tip her over? – Joanie Stiers Illinois Farm Bureau

country® wisdom about the author Joe Buhrmann is a Certified Financial Planner™ certificant and the Manager of Financial Security Field Support for COUNTRY Financial. Visit COUNTRY on the web at

Money Matters Tips help find financial certainty in uncertain times An old proverb simply states, “May you live in interesting times.” Lately, I’d settle for anything besides interesting. I hear from clients who are anxious about what they should be doing. Here are some tips I’ve been sharing with them. Have a Plan Having a tangible plan is the single best thing you can do to help ensure you’ll meet your financial goals. Your time horizon, objectives and tolerance for risk are key factors in making sure your investments can weather any market storm. Take into account the broader picture, including strategies for managing savings, debt and insurance coverage as well as your life goals, such as retirement and education funding. Diversification Is Not Dead During 25 years of experience in the industry, I’ve witnessed the October 1987 crash, the 2000 tech bubble and now the great recession. Each time, a pundit has touted “this time it’s different.” Diversification never goes out of style. Make sure your investment portfolio is allocated among a variety of asset classes and strategies. A balanced diet is not a doughnut in each hand; it means meat and potatoes, fruits and, yes, vegetables. In the case of your investments, it means stocks and bonds, large companies and small companies, domestic and foreign companies and even a dash of spicier asset classes such as real estate and commodities. Remember, with diversification, you’re not trying to beat the market – you’re trying to make sure the market doesn’t beat you.

Summer 2012

Don’t Try To Time the Market Moving in and out of the market can be costly. The past few years continue to show us that many market gains come during a small number of trading days. Furthermore, some of the best days in the market occur when they’re least expected. Keep Some Powder Dry During times of uncertainty, it’s important for you to have some funds in reserve. That advice applies whether you’re young or old, working or not. You just never know what’s going to happen. Having some cash in reserve – some “dry powder” – can help you survive any number of tough situations. If you’re working, it means a reserve of at least six months of expenses; if you’re retired, it may mean a couple of years’ worth of expense money on hand. Be Prepared The old Boy Scout motto, “Be prepared,” has never rung truer. Plan for the best, but be prepared for the worst. Clients today are seeking havens, such as high quality short-term bonds, certificates of deposit and even insurance products, including cash value life insurance and annuities. Having some money that’s not correlated to the equity markets can provide a cushion for the riskier parts of your portfolio. To ease the pressure of managing your financial security during volatile times, consider partnering with a trusted professional. Rather than focusing on the turbulent day-to-day moves in the economy, you can focus on developing and maintaining a solid financial plan.



Illinois Farm Bureau

Jar Star Leepy’s Country Gourmet cultivates a small business in home-canned fruits and vegetables storY BY

Charlyn Fargo Antony Boshier



ee Roy Rendleman’s nickname as a kid was Leepy. When he was 8 or 10 years old, he remembers his dad and grandfather working on a threshing machine and steam engine. When the engine shut down, Rendleman would hop across a couple of mud holes to get supplies. “First thing I knew, they were calling me leaper, then leap frog and finally ‘leepy.’ It stuck. I’ve been called that ever since,” says Rendleman, 84. The nickname has given Rendleman direction. After farming for 50 years – raising corn, soybeans and wheat on his Southern Illinois farm – he had to quit when a drought in 1983 took all of his crops. He took it in stride, working out with the banks what he owed, selling some of his farmland, and leaping to a new career as county commissioner and raising produce from his garden to sell at local farmers’ markets. At a young age, his mother taught him how to can produce from the family garden. “Canning was a way of life on the farm growing up,” he says. “We canned enough to keep the family fed through the winter.” So it was only natural for Rendleman to carry on the tradition. He and his wife, Marla, would can produce from their garden, often having an extra 1,000 jars to

give away to friends and family. Their specialty was their pickles, canned from cucumbers raised in their garden. They also grew peppers and tomatoes for salsa. “One of the boys says to me one day, ‘You know, I believe you could sell this stuff,’ ” Rendleman says. “That rang a bell with me. I went from there.” The idea grew into Leepy’s Country Gourmet Foods, a business located next to the Trail of Tears State Forest in Jonesboro in Union County. He offers a wide variety of canned products including several varieties of pickles, relishes, salsa, pickled vegetables, sauerkraut, applesauce, apple butter, jellies and jams. He grows some of the produce and purchases the rest from area farmers’ markets in Carbondale, Cape Girardeau, Mo., and occasionally St. Louis. “Our best seller is the medium salsa,” Rendleman says. “We often have to go to two farmers’ markets a week to get all our produce.” Rendleman converted one of his farm sheds into a kitchen. His grandson, Zachary, 25, joined the business after returning from multiple tours of duty in Iraq for the U.S. Air Force. “He came back and decided to help Pa Pa while he went to school,” Rendleman says. “I’m so glad.”

where to buy Leepy’s products are sold through regional dealers, farmers’ markets, some of the Southern Illinois wineries and direct from his farm in Jonesboro. He also sells through his website, www.leepys, or by phone at (866) 680-0958.

Lee Roy Rendelman, top right, runs Leepy’s Country Gourmet with help from his grandson, Zachary.

Summer 2012



All Ears Soup, salad and sides comprise versatile sweet corn recipes


Illinois Farm Bureau

Charlyn Fargo PHOTOGRAPHY BY Antony Boshier & Jeffrey S. Otto Food Styling BY Mary Carter storY & Recipes BY


t’s been called nature’s sugar. Those sunburst-yellow kernels tucked into an ear that’s wrapped in silks and a green husk for protection. Sweet corn has undergone radical changes, becoming sweeter every year as corn geneticists have engineered a bundle of supersweet hybrids that are designed to remain sweet and non-starchy. For three short months, just-picked ears fill farmers’ markets and supermarket bins, bursting with summer flavor. In fact, we Americans each consume an average of nine pounds of sweet corn a year. Our collective favorite is the yellow and white bicolor varieties. Byron Shotts, a veterinarian from Casey, started planting bicolor sweet corn when the first varieties came out – Peaches and Cream, Honey and Pearl, and now Ambrosia – and prefers its sweeter taste. He and his brother, Mike, of Martinsville, try to plant a half acre devoted just to corn as early as possible (late April or early May in Southeastern Illinois) and then stagger plantings every two to three weeks, weather permitting, until the first of July. The two raise it to give to family and friends. “It’s something my dad always did,” Shotts says. “And I’ve just carried on the tradition. He passed away 11 years ago, and it makes us think of him. We love eating it straight out of the garden with butter and salt and pepper.” Their mother, Marilyn, still cans and freezes the corn kernels each summer. “Our biggest battle is with the bugs and the wildlife,” Shotts says. “We finally decided to put up a temporary electric fence to keep the coons out.”

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At last year’s Illinois State Fair, ears of sweet corn were sold Tex-Mex style – seasoned with lime, cumin and chili powder – with the husk still on, the Tex-Mex flavors spread with butter over the just-cooked ears. The beauty of corn is its versatile ability to take on flavors, whether something as simple as butter, salt and pepper or as complex as Indian flavors such as a mix of curry powder, lemon zest and cilantro. Once picked, sweet corn will hold in the refrigerator from five to seven days, but the sooner it’s cooked, the sweeter it tastes, before the natural sugar in the kernels turns to starch. In my family, we spent a few days each summer, usually around the Fourth of July, putting up sweet corn for the winter. All of us had a job. My dad and brother picked the ears and husked them. Mom and I washed, blanched and iced down the ears. My husband would cut the corn off the cobs, and we’d all help package it into pint-size bags to freeze. Come Thanksgiving, when summer’s bounty made it on the table next to the turkey, we appreciated the labor of love from the past summer. Turn the page for a variety of sweet corn recipes, including my version of a Tex-Mexinspired creamed corn dish; a sweet and savory corn and blueberry salad that goes well with just about any grilled meat; and a smoky grilled corn salsa with black beans and avocado chunks.

Better Butter You can put amazing flavors on corn. Here are a couple of ways to butter up sweet corn beyond the basics: Lemon-Parsley Butter Beat ½ cup softened butter; 1 tablespoon of parsley, finely chopped; ½ teaspoon of lemon zest; 1½ teaspoons lemon juice and ¼ teaspoon of sugar. Combine well with a mixer or food processor. Chill, then bring to room temperature and serve with ears of corn. Hot Chili Butter Beat ½ cup softened butter; 2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese; fresh serrano or jalapeño chile pepper, minced and seeded to taste; 1½ teaspoons lime juice and ¼ teaspoon chili powder. Combine well with a mixer or food processor. Chill to blend flavors, then bring to room temperature and serve with ears of corn.

More online Go to to find more corn recipes such as a creamy potato corn chowder.


Blueberry Corn Salad 6 ears fresh sweet corn, husks removed 1

cup blueberries


small cucumber

¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro ¼ cup red onion, chopped


jalapeño pepper, seeded and chopped


tablespoons fresh lime juice


tablespoons olive oil


tablespoon honey

½ teaspoon cumin ½ teaspoon salt ½ teaspoon pepper

1. Add corn to boiling water and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Cut corn from the cob and let cool. 2. Combine corn, blueberries, cucumber, cilantro, onion and jalapeño pepper in a large bowl with a lid. 3. To make dressing, in a screw-top jar, mix lime juice, oil, honey, cumin, salt and pepper. Shake well. 4. Add dressing to corn mixture and toss. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Makes 6 servings.

tip When choosing fresh corn, look for bright green husks. Select ears with kernels in tightly packed rows and pale yellow silk peeking out of the ear.


Illinois Farm Bureau

Creamy Chili-Lime Corn 3-4 ears fresh sweet corn (about 3 cups corn kernels) Olive oil (for cooking) 1

large shallot, chopped


clove garlic, chopped


teaspoon ground cumin


teaspoon chili powder


cup skim milk


tablespoons fresh goat cheese

1½ teaspoons minced lime zest ¼ cup fresh chives, snipped

Salt and pepper

Grilled Corn, Black Bean and Avocado Salsa

1. Microwave the corn for 3 minutes per ear until kernels are soft, turning as they cook. Cut the kernels from the ear being careful not to cut into the cob.

4 ears corn, husks removed

2. Pour the oil into a large nonstick pan. The oil should film the bottom and sides. Warm over medium heat. Add the corn kernels, shallot, garlic, cumin and chili powder, and sauté until the corn begins to absorb the flavors and the garlic and shallot are soft, about 4 minutes.


tablespoon canola oil


large, ripe avocado, cut into ½ -inch slices,


can (15 ounces) black beans, drained


fresh tomatoes, diced

½ cup red onion, minced ¼ cup fresh cilantro, chopped

1-2 serrano peppers, seeded and minced 2

cloves garlic, minced

Juice from 2 limes

3. Stir in the milk and cheese. Simmer uncovered, until the liquid thickens, about 4 minutes. Mix in the lime zest and chives, and season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl and serve. Makes 4 servings.

½ teaspoon chili powder

Salt and pepper 1. Heat the grill to medium-high heat. Brush the corn

ears with the oil and place on the grill rack directly over the heat. Cook, turning often, until tender and lightly bronzed, 8 to 10 minutes. Let cool. 2. In a bowl, mash the avocado, and add the beans, tomatoes, onion, cilantro, peppers, garlic, lime juice, chili powder, and salt and pepper to taste. Cut off the kernels from the corn cobs and add to the mixture. Stir to mix well. Chill if desired, or serve immediately with tortilla chips. Makes 3½ cups.

tip The lime juice helps prevent the avocado from browning.

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Cottage Gardens

Grow the Illinois version of an English classic


about the author Jan Phipps is a University of Illinois Extension Master Gardener. She farms, gardens, writes and podcasts near Chrisman.


ottage gardens started in Medieval England when poor cottagers grew their own food, medicine, fabric dyes and scents right out the back door. During the Victorian period, artists and poets romanticized cottage gardens to escape the harshness of the Industrial Revolution. In America, they were originally grown as farmyard gardens and were jumbles of flowers, herbs and vines grown close together to maximize the area close to the house. The plants were those that could be grown from seed or starter shoots and easily shared with neighbors. Today we call them “pass-along plants.� What is a modern cottage garden, and

what are the plants grown there? Compact, colorful, fragrant, informal and utilitarian are all adjectives used to describe cottage gardens. Think rose-covered arbors, cascading window boxes, riots of color and texture, a slightly unkempt, blowzy look of variety, and you will have the mental picture of a cottage garden. Cottage gardens are not individual specimen plants surrounded by a sea of mulch. Instead of fussy hybrid tea roses, you will find climbing roses. Instead of symmetrical, carefully delineated sidewalks, you will find foliage spilling over the edges onto pathways. Cottage gardens are individualistic because Illinois Farm Bureau

Ask an expert


How do I get rid of the weed Creeping Charlie?

the first rule is to grow plants you love. The second is to choose plants that are easy to grow in your conditions. Here are a few suggestions of plants that do well in Illinois. You will need some climbers, which means they will need something for them to grow up. Traditional cottage gardens were fenced in to keep the family’s food animals out. Today an arbor, trellis or partial fence is all that is needed for vines. Clematis, morning glory, bittersweet and climbing roses are a few suggestions. Next, you will need some tall structural plants. How about hollyhocks, Joe-Pye weed, Buddleia (butterfly bush), the taller rudbeckias and even sunflowers? The middle layer needs some mid-sized

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plants such as cosmos, zinnia, cleome, columbine, rudbeckia, echinacea, liatris, sweet rocket and goldenrod. There are many more annuals and perennials from which to choose. Finally, you will need some low growers. Consider tulips and daffodils, lilies, Iberis (candy tuft), dianthus, marigolds, petunias, pansies, mums and asters. You can even mix in some herbs, such as chives, parsley, thyme, sage, marjoram and oregano. If you choose the plants you love for your cottage garden, you will enjoy it immensely. Once the garden is mature, you can start sharing your seeds and volunteer plants with fellow gardeners.

Answer Diligence. Whether you are using a herbicide or hand digging, you need to check every few weeks and re-spray or re-dig. Eventually you will win the battle.


When can I cut down the foliage of my peony after it finishes blooming? Answer Wait until late fall when the leaves start to turn. All summer the leaves are capturing energy for next year. E-mail your gardening questions to Jan at


{Travel Illinois}

Carbondale Spend a weekend in this charismatic college town storY BY

Jessica Mozo




Illinois Farm Bureau


arbondale is often called the capital of Southern Illinois, and it’s not hard to see why. Located an hour and a half (about 90 miles) southeast of St. Louis on the northern edge of the Shawnee National Forest, Carbondale has a population of about 26,000 and is the location of the main campus of Southern Illinois University. Being a college town means Carbondale has lots of perks for residents and visitors alike. Cultural attractions, recreation and ample shopping venues make life in Carbondale exciting. The city’s history dates back to 1852, and Carbondale’s nostalgic Town Square and West Walnut Street Historic District are popular with tourists. Downtown Carbondale has seen many visual and economic improvements in recent years, thanks to the efforts of the Carbondale Main Street Association. Downtown is a fun destination with special events, fairs and parades throughout the year.

Carbondale Must-Sees Shawnee National Forest West Walnut Street Historic District The Bucky Dome Home Southern Illinois University Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Shawnee Hills Orchard Trail Marberry Arboretum Main Street Superblock sports complex Woodlawn Cemetery (est. 1855) Cedar Lake/Poplar Camp Beach

Orchards and Wineries More than a century ago, immigrants migrated to the Carbondale area to start orchards because the climate and terrain were favorable for growing fruit. Today, Carbondale has several apple and peach orchards that continue to thrive, two of which are stops along the Shawnee Hills Orchard Trail. Rendleman Orchards in Alto Pass grows peaches, nectarines and apples and is open to the public July through December. Established in 1873, Rendleman Orchards is an Illinois Centennial Farm that has a charming farm market where visitors can sample tree-ripened fruits and homemade jams, jellies, salsas, ciders and syrups. At Flamm Orchards in Cobden, treat yourself to a made-from-scratch dessert. Flamm Orchards is open May through midDecember. Not long after orchards began popping up across Southern Illinois, grape growers Historic structures lining Carbondale’s Town Square include the F.A. Prickett Building, built in 1903.

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Poplar Camp Beach

Local Eats Mary Lou’s Grill Quatro’s Deep Pan Pizza Newell House Hunan Restaurant Thai Taste Spinoni’s Pizza and Pasta House Tres Hombres Italian Village Fat Patties Fujiyama’s Japanese Restaurant

also began putting down roots in the region. As a result, several wineries have emerged, and visitors can explore them along the Shawnee Hills Wine Trail, one of the region’s top tourism attractions. The trail includes 12 wineries and continues to expand. It was established in 1995 by the Carbondale Convention & Tourism Bureau and the owners of Southern Illinois’ first three wineries: Alto Vineyards in Alto Pass, Pomona Winery in Pomona and Owl Creek Vineyard in Cobden. Carbondale Entertainment Venues Carbondale may be a small town, but it offers big-city entertainment. The Southern Illinois University Arena is an 8,000-seat venue that regularly hosts some of the biggest names in music. In 40-plus years, it has hosted concerts by Elvis, B.B. King, Elton John and many others. The arena underwent renovation in 2010.

Southern Illinois University

During the summer months, Southern Illinois University’s Department of Theater presents the highly anticipated McLeod Summer Playhouse at McLeod Theater. The 2012 season will include crowd-pleasers such as “Steel Magnolias,” “You’re a Good Man, Charlie Brown,” “Chicago” and “Cinderella.” For community theater at its best, look no further than The Stage Company, which has been entertaining Carbondale for 30 years. Performances are held at the Varsity Center for the Arts. “The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” opens July 12. If you have kids in your traveling party, make sure to visit The Science Center of Southern Illinois. Designed for children ages 3 to 13, the museum features hands-on exhibits that let kids explore the world around them. The Science Center is located inside University Mall and is open Wednesday through Sunday. Check out the science-related toys, games, magic tricks and projects in the gift store.

Off-the-Beaten-Path Shopping Love to shop? Spend a day browsing the specialty and antique stores that line Carbondale’s Illinois Avenue and Main Street neighborhoods. You’ll find everything from the quirky to the quaint, including 6Pence gift shop, 710 Bookstore and Dayshift Boutique, to name a few. If you’re hungry, stop in Mary Lou’s Grill – a local landmark – for biscuits and gravy. Looking for chain stores? University Mall has more than 50 popular stores, including Macy’s and JC Penney.


Illinois Farm Bureau

local flavor

Carbondale Outdoor Attractions Grab your shades and a towel and head for Poplar Camp Beach on Carbondale’s Cedar Lake. The city-owned public beach and boat dock is known for its family atmosphere and gorgeous scenery. Fishermen regularly reel in crappie and bass, and the sandy waterfront leads to a swim and play area. Lifeguards are on duty during beach hours, and restrooms, picnic tables and concessions are on site. If you love nature, don’t miss the Marberry Arboretum, located on 25 acres two miles south of Carbondale. The arboretum is a living museum with more than 600 species and 20,000 plants. Meander along scenic walkways, fish in the arboretum’s pond, or enjoy a picnic amidst the natural scenery. Campers flock to Devil’s Backbone Park in Grand Tower in the summer. The park has a peaceful campground overlooking the Mississippi River and an unusual rock formation called Devil’s Bake Oven. Legends say its caves harbored river pirates until U.S. troops drove them away in 1803. Attention golfers! Carbondale is smack dab in the middle of the Southern Illinois Golf Trail. Hickory Ridge Golf Center in Carbondale is one of five courses along the trail. The 18-hole Hickory Ridge course is open to the public and challenges all skill levels. Kokopelli Golf Club in nearby Marion is another challenging course.

An Appetite for Asia Hunan Serves authentic Chinese cuisine


hen Carbondale residents crave Asian cuisine, they head to Hunan Restaurant on Main Street. “We are one of the best restaurants in the area, and the hard work of all our employees has contributed to our success since 1987,” says Chan San, owner of Hunan Restaurant. Hunan encompasses artfully prepared entrees from various regions of China – spicy Hunan and Szechwan food, hearty and filling Peking fare, sweet delicacies from Shanghai and lighter options from Canton. “One of our most popular dishes is our Honey Walnut Shrimp, which is prepared Cantonese-style,” says San, a native of Laos. “Our Hot Pepper Triple Combination from Hunan is also very popular. It is a combination of beef, shrimp and chicken stir-fried with green onions and spicy jalapeno peppers.” For a taste of Szechwan, try the Chicken in Black Bean Sauce – strips of chicken stir-fried with jalapenos and a spicy sauce. The sweeter Golden Sesame Chicken from Mandarin is deep-fried until golden, stirfried with vegetables, tossed in sauce and sprinkled with sesame seeds. Entrees at Hunan range from $11 to $20, and the enchanting Asian decor is always a topic of conversation. “We have customers come in from big cities, and they say they can’t believe Carbondale has a restaurant like Hunan,” San says. Another secret to Hunan’s success is being involved with the community. San serves on the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors and traveled to China and Taiwan in 2009 with the Southern Illinois University chancellor to help recruit students. “It’s always good to give back to the community,” San says. “The best part of my job is talking to people. We have lots of return customers since we have been open 25 years. And they are more than customers – they have become our friends.”

More online Hunan Restaurant is located at 710 E. Main St. in Carbondale. For hours of operation, visit or call (618) 529-1108.

Home of Memorial Day Carbondale’s claim to fame is being the birthplace of Memorial Day, the first of which was observed on April 29, 1866. On that inaugural Memorial Day, 219 Civil War veterans marched through Carbondale in memory of the fallen soldiers and ended at Woodlawn Cemetery, where Union hero Gen. John A. Logan delivered a speech. It was recognized as the first organized, community-wide Memorial Day observance.

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summer Events

This listing includes a few events from around the state to add to your calendar. Dates were accurate at press time but are subject to change. Please check with the contact listed before traveling long distances to attend. Additional information on Illinois events is available online through the Illinois Bureau of Tourism’s website, Feel free to send event suggestions to

Butterworth Blossoms June 24, Moline Travel back in time in the gardens of Butterworth Center during the annual Blossoms at Butterworth event held in Moline. This garden party highlights historical outdoor pastimes when families spent leisure time together outdoors. An antique auto show, 1800s lawn games, jugglers and live music are all part of the celebration.


Other afternoon activities include selfguided tours of the Butterworth and Deere-Wiman homes – which once belonged to John Deere family descendants and are now operated by the William Butterworth Memorial Trust – as well as guided bus tours of the Overlook Historic Neighborhood and multiple food vendors. Events are held noon to 5 p.m. The Butterworth Center is located at 1105 8th St., and the Deere-Wiman House is at 817 11th Ave. For more information, call (309) 743-2700 or visit

Welcome to Pretzel City June 30, Freeport This town has a history with pretzels. So many pretzels, in fact, that it took on the name Pretzel City, USA, when the resident Billerbeck Bakery – established in 1869 – flooded the local marketplace with an abundance of crispy baked pretzels. Since then, Freeport has embraced its namesake and each year celebrates the baked, knot-like dough with the Pretzel City Festival. This year, the event kicks off June 30 in Krape Park with the 10th annual Pretzel City 5K at 8 a.m. The rest of the day includes food, entertainment, craft vendors, a petting zoo, a dunk tank, pony rides, a cardboard boat regatta, the pretzel recipe contest, birdhouse building and an evening movie. For more information, call (877) 600-0346 ext. 901. Illinois Farm Bureau

A Living History June 9, July 14 and Aug. 11, Metropolis The park has a military history that dates back to the French and Indian War, so it’s only fitting that each year Fort Massac State Park in Metropolis honors the Massac Marines with a re-enactment of the history and traditions from the 18th century. Living historians will present displays, interpretive programs and games that the French, American and Native Americans might have played during the French and Indian War period. Dedicated as the first Illinois state park in 1908, Fort Massac overlooks the Ohio River and includes an 1802 reconstructed fort, statue of George Rogers Clark, a museum and visitor center. Sheltered picnic areas, hiking trails and a boat ramp are also around the park. This year’s re-enactments will be June 9, July 14 and Aug. 11 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

FOR MORE INFO Contact Fort Massac State Park at (618) 524-4712.

Fiesta Time

Get the Blues

July 8-17, McHenry

July 20-21, Bloomington

It’s a mid-summer blowout party that lasts for 10 days. McHenry’s annual Fiesta Days is one of the oldest and largest summer festivals in the Chicago area. Held in Petersen and Veterans parks and throughout downtown McHenry, this celebration includes carnival rides, sports tournaments, canoe races, a 5K run, an ice cream social, bingo, puppeteers, jugglers, magicians, comedians and live music by popular tribute bands. An arts and crafts show, motorcycle show and sidewalk sale also take place throughout the week. The Riverview Theatre Company will also offer performances of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” This year, a parade honors McHenry County’s 175th birthday. For a full listing of events and band schedules, visit

The annual Ain’t Nothin’ But the Blues Festival started as a one-day musical tribute with five artists, but it has grown into a weekend-long celebration featuring some of the biggest names in blues and drawing more than 5,000 visitors. Blues fans can bring lawn chairs and blankets to kick back and enjoy the music July 20-21 at the General Electric Employees Club on General Electric Road. For a schedule of musicians, visit

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Illinois State Fair Aug. 9-19, Springfield You’ll find games, rides, great food and plenty of livestock this summer at the Illinois State Fair. Don’t miss the Twilight Parade and

discount carnival rides on Preview Night, Aug. 9. Opening day on Aug. 10 kicks off the first days of harness racing; open beef, sheep and poultry shows; and the Colt Stakes. Other must-sees include Veteran’s Day (Aug. 12), Agriculture Day (Aug. 14) and Family Day (Aug. 19). For more information, including directions to the fairgrounds and a full list of events at the state fair, visit

Honoring History Aug. 25, Perry Pike County’s smallest community celebrates its heritage in a big way at the annual Perry Pioneer Days Aug. 25. Enjoy food vendors, arts and crafts, children’s activities after the big parade through downtown and a variety show. For more information about the celebration, call (217) 236-9701.


illinois in focus The Thomas Rees Memorial Carillon in Springfield’s Washington Park is the world’s third-largest carillon. Celebrate this bell tower during the 51st annual International Carillon Festival, slated for June 3-9. Photo by Antony Boshier

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Summer 2012, ILFB Partners  

ILFB Partners highlights what's good about Illinois - from the best travel destinations and recipes to articles about important agricultural...