Nottawa Stone School: A One-Room Schoolhouse

Nottawa Stone School: A One-Room Schoolhouse

Imagine being a school teacher and having to teach five grades or more at one time. One-room schoolhouses were common in rural areas of the United States all the way into the 1960s, some even later. Earlier this year we visited the Nottawa Stone School in Nottawa, Michigan, a one-room schoolhouse that served grades one through five, which has been restored for historical purposes. Read more

Corey Lake Orchards: One-Source Farmers Market

Corey Lake Orchards: One-Source Farmers Market

The farm is quiet on the late February day we visit. Equipment and supplies are stored for the winter, glistening snow blankets the fields and ice fishermen are on the lake across the road. But farm work never stops. Winter is when grapevines are pruned, tractors are maintained and Beth Hubbard, owner of Corey Lake Orchards, grows tomato plants in the greenhouse. Read more

Colon, Michigan: Magic Capital of the World

Colon, Michigan: Magic Capital of the World

Driving through Colon, Michigan, you would never think this tiny town of 1200 people is the Magic Capital of the World; that Bob Hope, Stan Laurel and Charlie Chaplin all got their starts here; that Edgar Bergen visited Colon regularly; or that the town cemetery is filled with deceased magicians. Read more

A Drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes

A Drive through Sleeping Bear Dunes

Spring is beginning to emerge following a hard winter during our mid-May visit to Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, situated on the northwestern shore of Michigan’s Lower Peninsula. Young green grasses are poking out from the drab browns of winter, trees are beginning to leaf out, and the warm sun cuts through the chilly air.

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Yoder’s Country Market: Fresh Amish Food

Yoder’s Country Market: Fresh Amish Food

Fresh rolled butter. Peach fritters the size of softballs. Peanuts ground into cappuccino peanut butter. Salads made from generations-old Amish recipes. The aroma of hickory smoked ribs and chicken. It’s no wonder that Yoder’s Country Market in Centreville, Michigan, has had to expand three times in its ten-year existence—and the market is bursting at the seams again. Read more

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Sock Monkeys, Maple Syrup, Mayberry and More

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Sock Monkeys, Maple Syrup, Mayberry and More

Rockford, Illinois, where sock monkeys began, celebrates with a Sock Monkey Madness Festival March 7-8, 2015, at the Midway Village Museum. Meet the world’s largest sock monkey, make your own sock monkey, or buy one ready-made.

1408_Rockford_SockMonkey-9761The following weekend, March 14-15, dinosaur fans won’t want to miss Paleofest 2015 at Rockford’s Burpee Museum of Natural History, a symposium with over 20 speakers, programs and activities.

The sap will flow at the Coral Woods Conservation Area in Marengo, Illinois, March 7-8 and 14-15 during the Festival of the Sugar Maples, where you’ll learn how sap is collected from maple trees, how maple syrup was made hundreds of years ago and it’s made today. Stop in nearby Union beforehand or afterwards for the annual Lions Club pancake breakfast.

Didn’t make it to the Beloit International Film Festival this year? You get another chance to catch some great films at the Ann Arbor Film Festival (AAFF) March 24-29, in Ann Arbor, Michigan. The AAFF, started in 1963, is North America’s longest-running independent and experimental film festival.

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Thirty restaurants in and around the Illinois and Iowa Quad Cities area are offering two lunches for $15 and dinners for $15-25 during the third annual Quad Cities Restaurant Week. Fixed price menus for participating restaurants are listed on the web site.

The Walking Tourists, Lisa and Tim Trudell, discovered a fun Hawaiian shirt exhibit at the Kaneko Gallery in downtown Omaha. As Tim pointed out in his article, who thinks of a Hawaiian shirt as a work of art? Artistic and colorful they are! The exhibit runs through April 25.

You have just one more day to enter the Sioux Falls Getaway Weekend drawing. Enter by February 28 to win one of three trips.

Mark your calendar now for the May 15-17 Mayberry in the Midwest festival in Danville, Indiana, near Indianapolis, brought back for a second year, where you can meet Don Knotts’ daughter, Karen Knotts, enjoy entertainment by tribute artists, and participate in Mayberry-themed games shows or Mayberry After Dark, part scavenger hunt, part pub crawl and part walking tour.

Mayberry_tribute_artists-1Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


 

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Romance, Adventure, Festivals and Food

Valentine’s Day falls on a Saturday in 2015, so you’ll have the entire weekend to celebrate. Whether you prefer a quiet dinner or moonlit walk in the woods with your special someone, or a party with all of your friends, you’ll find plenty to do in the Midwest.

We’ve noted a few suggestions below for Valentine’s Day, as well as other upcoming and ongoing events and activities. Find more things to do through the events links for each state on the Midwest Wanderer Festivals & Fairs page.

Illinois
Check out the Valentine’s Day Fun in Champaign County for a slew of ideas to celebrate next weekend, including special menus at special restaurants, a Couples Valentine’s Day Hike through Busey Woods, and an “All My Friends” Valentine’s Day Party for you and all your friends at Allerton Park and Retreat Center.

Indiana
When the temperatures are above freezing during the day and dip below freezing at night, the maple sap begins to flow. At the National Maple Syrup Festival March 5-8 in Brown County see trees tapped and boiling sap; taste foods and drinks made with maple syrup; and demonstrations of early methods of syrup making by descendants of the Delaware and Shawnee.

Iowa
If you think farm adventure sport is an oxymoron, you’ve never been Silo Ice Climbing in Cedar Falls where an 80-foot silo is turned into an ice mountain every winter. Open Saturdays and Sundays when the weather is consistently below 26 degrees, Silo Ice Climbing staff has the gear you need and staff to help you.

Michigan
Snowshoe along the torch-lit trail in the DeGraaf Nature Center in Holland at the Valentine’s Day Sweetheart Snowshoe Shuffle. Adults 21 and over only.

Enter to win a $25 gift card to the Heritage Restaurant, a fine dining restaurant at the downtown Grand Rapids Community College campus and operated by the Secchia Institute for Culinary Education.

Wisconsin
Kenosha’s Snow Daze Festival
on February 14 coincides with the start the Downtown Kenosha Restaurant Week. Watch ice sculpting demonstrations and carve a message into the graffiti ice wall. Then enjoy lunch, dinner or a sweet treat at fixed prices at participating restaurants. Restaurant week runs through February 22.

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


 

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Celebrating Chocolate, Wine, and Groundhogs

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Celebrating Chocolate, Wine, and Groundhogs

skatersThe Midwest never seems to stop celebrating. Even in the middle of winter we find excuses to party, from eleven days of a groundhog festival, to a full month of chocolate and an even longer Mardi Gras celebration. Here are several things going on in the Midwest in the next few weeks, plus chances to win getaways. Find even more things to do through the events links on the Midwest Wanderer Festivals & Fairs page.

Groundhog Days
It won’t be long before the groundhog prognosticates an early spring or continued winter. What better place to witness the forecast than Woodstock, Illinois, where the movie Groundhog Day starring Bill Murray was filmed? The town celebrates Groundhog Days from January 29 through February 8 with free showings of the movie, guided walking tours of filming locations and of course, Woodstock Willie’s prognostication at sunrise on February 2 in historic Woodstock Square.

Wine Not
Kalamazoo’s
inaugural indoor wine festival, Wine Not, set for Saturday, February 7, will feature more than thirty wineries, over half from Michigan. Sip wine as you listen to a violin duo and jazz quartet, and enjoy the entertainment of magician Alan Kazam.

February, the Month for Chocolate in Harbor Country
The entire month of February Southwest Michigan’s Harbor Country celebrates the Chocolate Classic, as over forty businesses offer a variety of chocolate inducements, including chocolate-covered bacon and chocolate-enhanced wine.

St. Louis Mardi Gras
Mardi Gras has already begun in St. Louis’ Soulard neighborhood and continues through Fat Tuesday, on February 17 this year. Festivities include the February 7-8 Southern Comfort Taste of Soulard, the February 14 Grand Parade and much more.

The Beach Boys
Get your tickets now to see the Beach Boys in concert at the Indiana University Auditorium in Bloomington, Indiana, February 15.

Embrace Winter in Chicago
Bring your own ice skates or rent them, and glide along the ice to the backdrop of the Chicago skyline at the McCormick Tribune Ice Rink in Millennium Park or the brand new Maggie Daley Park Ice Skating Ribbon. A little farther north skate at Lincoln Park Zoo’s Farm-in-the-Zoo.

February 8 is FREEze Day at Brookfield Zoo, Brookfield, Illinois, where the Green Valley Dog Drivers (GVDD) and their four-legged friends demonstrate dog-sledding.

Giveaways
Enter the Indiana Winter Getaway Giveaway every day through February 12. The prize is a $200 gift card to use at Indiana State Park inns or golf courses; a 2015 entry pass for Indiana State Parks; a gift pass for the Refrigerated Toboggan Run at Pokagon State Park; and a one-year subscription to Outdoor Indiana Magazine.

Sioux Falls, South Dakota, is giving away weekend getaways. Choose a Friends, Couples or Families package entry. Prizes include hotel stays; gift cards and vouchers for events, attractions, food, entertainment, activities and shopping; and $100 transportation reimbursement. One entry per person; entry deadline is February 28, 2015.

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie


 

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Keep Warm Inside or Embrace Outdoor Winter Activities

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: Keep Warm Inside or Embrace Outdoor Winter Activities

Winter has hit us hard in the Midwest this week, closing schools and making a mess of traffic. It looks like, at least here in the Chicago area, temps will be up and down for a while. There may be some days warm enough to get outside and embrace winter activities and other days that you’ll want to stay indoors. Luckily, there is plenty to do around the Midwest for both indoor and outdoor fun.

Eagle Watching Along the Mississippi River
Bald EagleCities along the Mississippi River celebrate eagle watching this time of year as bald eagles migrate down the Mississippi Flyway. Both indoor and outdoor activities take place at the Quad Cities Bald Eagles Days expo January 9-11 and during Great River Eagle Days in Quincy, Illinois, January 17. Download the 2015 Eagle Guide from the All Around Alton web site for information about eagle-related activities throughout the season in the Meeting of the Great Rivers area.

Restaurant Weeks
Plan your Alton eagle-watching trip the week of January 16-25, and you can take advantage of Alton Restaurant Week. Meals at 16 restaurants are $10 for lunch and $25 for dinner. Some meals are for one person and some for two.

If you miss restaurant week in Alton, you can catch the first ever Geneva Restaurant Week January 26 through February 1. Twenty Geneva, Illinois, restaurants will offer lunch and dinner priced at either $19 or $39, and again, meals may be for one or two people. Offers for each restaurant are on the web site.

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Beloit International Film Festival
Like films? Visit Beloit, Wisconsin, for the Beloit International Film Festival, February 20 to March 1. In its tenth year, 192 different films will be featured, from shorts to feature films, in genres from documentaries to romances and comedies. The films will be shown in ten Beloit venues. BIFF has been called the “next big thing” by Moviemaker Magazine and has been listed as one of the alternatives to “Sundance” by the New York Times. Events like the Opening Night Block Party and the Grease Sing-a-Long promise a lot of fun.

Wisconsin Promo Ad
Speaking of fun, check out Wisconsin’s Winter Wonderland travel ad starring the “Airplane!” cast.

Stay in Your Jammies
Have you ever felt like staying in your warm pajamas all day? You can without having to stay home to do it—and no one will look at you funny. In fact, everyone else will be wearing their pajamas too during the 18th Annual Shipshewana Pajama Day Sale on February 1, 2015. Most stores will open at 6 a.m. or earlier and offer deep discounts, giveaways and drawings.

St. Joseph, Michigan, Giveaway
You don’t even have to leave your computer to enter the giveaway from St. Joseph in West Michigan. Simply enter online for your chance to win a $50 gift certificate towards area shops and restaurants tokens to the Silver Beach Carousel, Passes for the Curious Kids’ Museum and a two-night stay at an area hotel. The winner will be drawn on January 30, in time to make it to the February 6-8 Magical Ice Fest.

Other Posts You may Enjoy:

Travel and Adventure Show Coming to Chicago January 17-18, 2015

Here ‘n There in the Midwest: A Look Ahead to 2015

Top 2014 Midwest Wanderer Travel Experiences

Thank you for reading Midwest Wanderer. Don’t miss a post. Enter your e-mail address below and click Subscribe to be notified whenever I publish another post. Subscription is FREE. After subscribing, be sure to click the link when you get the e-mail asking you to confirm.   – Connie