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Southwest Illinois News is a weekly news publication spotlighting attractions, events, entertainment, tourism, jobs and business developments in Southwestern Illinois
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'Seed to Table' Concept Restaurant to Open in Godfrey
GODFREY, IL (, August 5, 2018 - The long-awaited new venture for partners Rex Hale and Kelsi Baker Walden will finally open its doors on Monday, August 6th at 7120 Montclaire Avenue in Godfrey, Illinois.

Hale describes the restaurant concept as "seed to table," where all of the food is grown either onsite or is sourced from local producers. In fact, the hallmarks of the space are the small farm next to the patio and the substantial herb garden on the other side of the property. Both have been growing since late spring and been producing a bounty of fresh produce for recipe testing and soft launches. In the years to come, the farm will be expanded.

Anything not grown on site and all proteins are almost entirely sourced from a 50-mile radius (with the exception of the sea scallops, sockeye salmon and white fish from Michigan, all currently on the opening-day menu).

Some of the local farms Hale is working with include EarthDance Farms in Ferguson, Missouri; Rain Crow Ranch in Doniphan, Missouri; Double Star Farms in Benton, Illinois; Marcoot Jersey Creamery in Greenville, Illinois; Bohlen Family Farms in Perryville, Missouri; Such and Such Farms in Desoto, Missouri and The Mill at Janie's Farm in Ashkum, Illinois.

The fare is American comfort food with a twist. The menu will feature dishes familiar to many, but some of them have been simplified, to let the hyper-fresh ingredients shine, and some will be more complex, as a nod to the partners' fine dining roots. All of it will change frequently to follow the ever-changing seasonal harvest.

An inventive cocktail menu will also feature local produce prominently, whether it's in a carrot-juice based concoction with local honey and herbs, a peach-based creation with peaches from Calhoun County garnished with grilled peaches or a lighter drink of fresh cucumber juice and lime.

Bakers & Hale seats a whopping 255: 120 at the outside bar, 75 at the inside bar and 60 in the restaurant dining room and is open for dinner Monday through Saturday from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m. Call 618 433 9748 for more information.

1,800+ Locals Cycle to Raise $1.8M for MS Society
GODFREY, IL (, July 15, 2018 - 1,800 cyclists are setting out to raise $1.8M toward a world free of MS by riding up to 200 miles over 2 days. Bike MS: Gateway Getaway Ride will depart from Lewis and Clark Community College in Godfrey on September 8 and conclude on September 9 after a journey of a lifetime through the Illinois countryside.

ROUTE OPTIONS: Day 1 - 25, 40, 75 and 100-mile route options. Day 2 - 25, 50, 75 and 100-mile route options.

"Bike MS is an experience grounded in camaraderie that brings together cyclists of all levels for one reason - to create a world free of MS," said Eric Page, Executive Director, National MS Society, Gateway. "Funds raised from this event support cutting-edge MS research as well as programs and services for people living with MS in this community."

Bike MS: Gateway Getaway is one of nearly 80 rides across the country hosted by the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. This year, more than 80,000 people are expected to participate in Bike MS nationwide.

Primal and The Pickle Juice Company are Premier National Sponsors of Bike MS. Primal is also the official National Cycling Apparel Sponsor and sponsors "I Ride with MS," a special program recognizing Bike MS cyclists living with the disease.

WHY BIKE MS: Bike MS brings people together as individuals and as teams to conquer a challenge and share an unforgettable experience with friends, family and coworkers - while raising money to make a difference in the lives of people affected by MS.


Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation Partners with Metro Transit
EAST ST. LOUIS, IL (, July 15, 2018 - The Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation, in a partnership with Metro Transit, has distributed 50 Gateway Go Cards to young people who participate in the afterschool programs, summer camps, athletic programs and other activities at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center in East St. Louis, Illinois.

The Gateway Go Cards provided to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation on July 2 were preloaded with July and August monthly passes at half their normal price, and the young transit riders who received the cards are able to enjoy unlimited rides on MetroLink and MetroBus this summer, making it a perfect option to ride Metro to summer programs at the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center, located adjacent to the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Center MetroLink Station, or to other camps, activities and opportunities throughout the region. The Gateway Go Cards were made possible through the generosity of Regency Enterprise Services.

"Our programs help thousands of young people improve their lives every year, but that's only if they are able to get here and participate," said Jackie Joyner-Kersee, Olympic Champion and Chairwoman of the Jackie Joyner-Kersee Foundation. "Transportation is often a challenge, but through our partnership, Metro Transit is helping eliminate those barriers for the young people in our community."

The Gateway Go Card is a new summer fare program developed Metro Transit and Bi-State Development in partnership with the City of St. Louis, St. Clair County, St. Clair County Transit District, St. Louis County and the St. Louis Economic Development Partnership. With the Gateway Go Card, area youth between 13 and 25 years old are able to purchase fares at a 50 percent discount to ride MetroLink and MetroBus. The program uses a special version of the Metro Gateway Card smart card, and young people are able to load one-ride tickets, two-hour passes and monthly passes directly to the Gateway Go Card at half the normal price.

For more information on how to sign up for the Gateway Go program, visit or call 314-982-1500.

Half Price Admission for Two Great Springfield Tourist Destinations
SPRINGFIELD, IL (, - As families begin searching for affordable family friendly activities to enjoy this summer, the Illinois State Fair has announced its continued partnership with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library & Museum to offer special discount admission tickets.

This "Double Play" ticket promotion offers visitors half-price adult admission at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, and a half price adult admission at the Illinois State Fair.

These special $12 discount admission tickets are available for a limited time only. "Double Play" tickets can be purchased at the Emmerson Building on the state fairgrounds (Monday - Friday 8:00-4:30) and at the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum (Monday-Friday 9:00-4:00pm).

New this year, visitors of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Museum can learn more about the four U.S. presidents who called Illinois home. From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama is a special exhibit that will be on display through 2018 to celebrate Illinois' bicentennial. Visitors can view unique artifacts and fascinating photos, test their knowledge of presidential trivia, or find out what it is like to deliver a presidential address from a teleprompter.

At the Illinois State Fair, August 9 - August 19, this year's theme is Celebrate Illinois: 200 Years of Amazing to coincide with the state's bicentennial. Each year the Illinois State Fair, taking place in Springfield, celebrates the best of what is born, built and grown in our state. Adding the bicentennial to the fair's lineup only adds to our celebration. Look for various bicentennial programming, as well as a bicentennial flare to the annual Twilight Parade, during the 2018 Illinois State Fair.

While this special discount ticket makes it easy for visitors to enjoy both events in one single day, the purchaser has until the end of the year to use the ALPLM portion of the ticket. "This is a great opportunity, a great offer, for families to explore all the fun activities our city has to offer," said State Fair Manager Luke Sailer. "Both venues are family friendly destinations, and with the "Double Play" promotion we can help families affordably enjoy both tourist destinations."

"As Illinois celebrates its 200th birthday, we hope every family gets a chance to explore the state and learn more about all it has to offer," said Alan Lowe, executive director of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum. "We're happy to make that a little more convenient by teaming with the Illinois State Fair to offer these special prices for admission to the fair and to the museum. This year, the museum has its usual great displays about Lincoln and also a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit about the other presidents with Illinois roots."

The Illinois State Fair is now under 60 days away. You can start planning your visit today. Gate admission, parking passes, and Mega Pass are on sale now through the Illinois State Fair website. In addition, discount admission booklets will be available for purchase starting July 1st at participating County Market grocery stores. You can also download the Illinois State Fair mobile app to begin planning your visit to the 11-day extravaganza.

Free Summer Concerts at Eckert's Belleville Farm
BELLEVILLE, IL ( - Each year as summer rolls around, Eckert's Belleville Farm gears up for another exciting Summer Concert Series.

The family-owned and operated business is located at 951 South Green Mount Road, less than 30 minutes from St. Louis. From Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day weekend, families can enjoy live music at the farm every Friday and Saturday, from 7 pm - 9 pm, and there's no cover charge.

The talented musical artists who perform at our concerts represent a spectrum of music genres. Musical styles featured at our concerts include Americana, bluegrass, country, blues, folk, funk, jazz and rock. Some groups stick to one style of music while others play two or more styles. Whatever the musical genre, these musicians always put on a great show.

The outdoor concerts are for music lovers of all ages. There's a bunch of engaging kid-friendly activities for them to enjoy at a unique playground that includes climbing and sliding activities.

It's okay to bring dogs to the show, just make sure dogs are on a leash.

Eckert's has plenty of food and beverages on hand during every concert. Visitors can go to the biergarten to purchase drinks and food, find treats at their country store or enjoy a nice sit-down meal at the restaurant. Eckert's strictly enforces the no outside food and drink rule, so please abide by it to avoid awkward moments and misunderstandings. For more information on the concert schedule, call 618-233-0513 or 800-745-0513.

"From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama" Exhibition
SPRINGFIELD, IL ( - The Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum will help celebrate the state's 200th birthday with a major new exhibit about the four presidents who have called Illinois their home, said ALPLM Executive Director Alan Lowe.

The exhibit, entitled "From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama," will explore their connections to the Prairie State, their political battles, the first ladies who helped them succeed and much more.

Visitors will see amazing documents and artifacts, including Ronald Reagan's yearbook from his high school days in Dixon, the table where Ulysses S. Grant's accepted Robert E. Lee's surrender during the Civil War, an original draft of Barack Obama's speech at the 50th anniversary of the Selma civil rights march, and the briefcase Abraham Lincoln used as president.

"From Illinois to the White House" opened March 23 and runs through the end of 2018.

"Illinois helped shape these leaders, and they in turn helped shape Illinois and the entire country. As we celebrate the state's bicentennial, it seems appropriate to take a close look at their lives and legacies," Lowe said.

"We're bringing together artifacts from more than a dozen institutions and private collectors for what will truly be a once-in-a-lifetime exhibit," Lowe added.

Items in the exhibit come from, among others, the U. S. Grant State Historic Site, Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, Barack Obama Presidential Library, National Portrait Gallery, Chicago History Museum and Wayne Whalen, chair emeritus of the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library Foundation. The John Ullrich Foundation of Decatur has provided generous support.

The exhibit will be housed in the ALPLM's Illinois Gallery, a space dedicated to rotating exhibits on state history. There will be no extra fee to see "From Illinois to the White House: Lincoln, Grant, Reagan, Obama." It is provided as part of regular admission to the Lincoln museum (212 N. 6th Street, Springfield).

For more information, visit

New, Improved 'Getting Around Illinois' Website
SPRINGFIELD, IL ( - The Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) has introduced a redesigned that provides continually updated information in a mobile-friendly format that's more convenient for the motoring public in Illinois.

"We are very excited to provide this new-and-improved resource for travelers," said Illinois Transportation Secretary Randy Blankenhorn. " is a great place to get important information - from winter road conditions to construction site locations to road or bridge closures - for any trip, any time of the year. The new mobile-friendly format will get travelers the information they need quickly and conveniently."

In keeping with the demands of today's users, the new website includes the ability to identify and zoom in to your location, travel route or destination, whereas the former site offered a static map that provided a broad view of a user's overall location. Additionally, the new website is operated by a cloud-based system, creating a better opportunity to provide real-time information and reducing potential system downtime.

As construction season gets underway, work zone information throughout the state is accessible by selecting the map's "road construction zone" layer to see where a work zone is located, how long it will be in place and what type of work is being done.

One of the more popular features of is the winter road conditions map, which averages more than 2 million visitors during snow-and-ice season and is regularly used by news media and shared widely on social media. The new map features an enhanced color scheme that better aligns with current map technology used by surrounding states, creating a more seamless travel experience for truckers and tourists, and is easier for color-blind individuals to discern.

Drury Inn & Suites Completes Renovation of Hotel in O'Fallon, Illinois
O'FALLON, IL ( - The Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois, has completed a full renovation to the property's 180 guest rooms and suites, public areas and more than 2,800 square feet of meeting and event space.

Renovations to the hotel's guest rooms include new mattresses and headboards, carpet, paint, window treatments, lighting and artwork. All of the guest bathrooms also received new showerheads, hair dryers and soft goods. The public and meeting areas of the hotel received upgraded lighting, new furniture complete with USB plug and play charging ports and artwork inspired and reflective of the St. Louis landscape.

"This is a great, fresh look for our property," said Ashley Timmons, general manager, Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois. "Our upgrades were influenced by guest feedback and were made with their satisfaction in mind. We're excited for our guests to experience our new look and feel."

The hotel is 20 minutes east of downtown St. Louis off I-64. Conveniently located near Scott Air Force Base, the hotel is also near a wide variety of local attractions. Because of its central location and numerous amenities, Drury Inn & Suites St. Louis O'Fallon, Illinois, is an ideal location for business and leisure travelers. Call 1-800-325-0481 for more information or reservations.

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