corn mazeJames Bond, the legendary spy, has now been immortalized in a legendary way. An extraordinarily detailed corn maze was created on a farm in Illinois to celebrate the 60th anniversary of the iconic agent’s first film Dr. No. The maze features the five actors who have portrayed 007 over the years: Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Sean Connery, Daniel Craig and Piece Brosnan. The corn maze is located on Richardson Adventure Farm in Spring Grove. Every year the Illinois farm creates a masterful corn maze, and in 2022 they decided to celebrate James Bond.  

The maze was shaken, not stirred, as it was created to also feature a Bond girl, a Monaco casino and an Aston Martin car driven by 007. The corn maze is distinguished as the world’s largest corn maze, it stretches 10 miles and spans over a 28-acre area. Those who came to visit the maze needed all the skills of a great spy to work their way through it, as the maze is actually created out of 4 smaller mazes, each one having its own dedicated in and out path. The maze was created using state of the art design and planting technology. Last year the Richardson Farm depicted the famous band “The Beatles” in their corn. Every year Illinoisans wait in anticipation to see what the farmers will create next, and hopes are high for another spectacular maze in 2023. 

The corn maze was open September through October of this year, and the amazing design of James Bond through the decades drew a lot of media attention to the Illinois farm. As fall season comes to a close and the holiday season is upon us, the Richardson Farm is switching gears from corn to pine. The Richardson Christmas Tree Farm will be opening the day after thanksgiving, and those who enjoyed the spy-level maze can now enjoy getting a tree with their families for the holidays.

Those who wish to visit the farm can visit their website here.          

landmarks awardsWhen thinking of visiting Chicago, the first thing that comes to mind might be the Sears Tower, the Bean or the Ferris Wheel at Navy Pier. These are all famous landmarks of the city. Landmarks are a staple of towns and cities, and are the most recognizable aspects of a town that can draw in tourists or fill residents with pride. Landmarks in any town deserve to be recognized and preserved, which is exactly what the Landmarks Illinois Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards accomplish. Multiple locations in Illinois have been chosen for the 2022 Awards.

This year was the 29th annual anniversary of the awards program, which celebrates preservation efforts in Illinois. The winners are chosen by a jury of preservation professionals across all of Illinois, who select locations based off of the positive impact on their community, the way it inspires others to save places, and the degree to which it aligns with Landmarks Illinois’ mission. Landmarks Illinois was established in 1971 and is the state’s leading voice for historic preservation. They help communities all over the state save the important places in their lives through a wide range of programs, such as the Preservation Awards.

This year awards such as the Award for Advocacy, the Award for Restoration and the Award for Rehabilitation were given out, among others. The Award for Advocacy was bestowed upon Hotel Belleville in Belleville. The 91-year-old former hotel has been rehabilitated into an affordable housing development called “Lofts on the Square.” The Award for Restoration was given to the Chicago Cultural Center Grand Army of the Republic Rooms. This building is Chicago’s main public library, and has undergone $15 million in restoration to preserve its original features. The Award for Rehabilitation was granted to Crown Brew Coffee Co. in Marion. The coffee shop opened in October 2020 in a 120-year-old building. The coffee shop was rehabilitated by its owners, and was the first business to open in a city-led downtown revitalization effort, proving what is possible when local governments and business owners come together for their town’s economic development.            

To see the full list of 2022 recipients of the Richard H. Driehaus Foundation Preservation Awards you can visit here.

vampire teethDo you sparkle in the sunlight? Do you crave blood? Is your arch nemesis named Van Helsing? Whether you identify with Edward Cullen from Twilight or Dracula himself, Chicago is welcoming to all of vampire kind. Lawn Love ranked Chicago as 2022’s second best city for vampires. Cities were ranked for having large populations with diversity in blood types, vampire friendly dwellings, nightlife options, vampire tours, and lack of sunshine. While vampires are welcome, Chicago residents and tourists should beware of the city’s hospitality to them.

Spooky season is upon us as vampires get to run wild in all of the haunted and mysterious places of the city. Potential victims who find themselves in Chicago’s Alley of Death, location of the Iroquois Theatre fire, might find their names whispered by the ghosts of those burned in warning, right before a vampire can strike. Tourists to the city at this time should look out for the Vampire population, carry garlic and holy water as the ghosts and ghouls come out to play. Tourists wanting to avoid the onset of vampires should also avoid the Congress Plaza hotel, known as one of the most haunted hotels in Chicago history.

Halloween is approaching, the one night of the year all monsters are celebrated, but vampires are welcome in Chicago year round. Residents be wary, not all may resemble Twilight.

Chicago skyline Chicago’s beautiful skyline, vast assortment of arts and cuisine, and welcoming atmosphere for families and young adults alike makes it no surprise it has been named the best U.S. city to visit. Chicago won this title from the 2022 Readers’ Choice Awards of the Conde Nast Traveler magazine. The city’s first win came back in 2017, making this the sixth year in a row readers have voted for Chicago. No other city has been voted the best big city in the U.S. for more than three straight years in the history of the awards. This year, more than 240,000 readers cast their vote. Chicago’s continuous ability to earn this title shows how the city is ever evolving and adapting to the needs of its residents and tourists.

Chicago’s enduring rank as the number one city to visit has led to a boom in the tourist industry. Leisure and business travel numbers are returning to pre-pandemic levels. Chicago is host to world-class restaurants, gorgeous lakefronts, stunning architecture, great hotels, and a multitude of museums and activities. It is no wonder tourists come to enjoy everything the city has to offer. Hotel room demand in the summer months this past year exceeded 3 million rooms a night, almost 90% of what the 2019 pre-pandemic levels were. Chicago is coming back to life after years of strife and worry caused by the pandemic. The soul of the city is being rejuvenated, and people all around the world are visiting to experience the city’s great food, festivals, institutions and more.

Chicago is made up of 77 diverse neighborhoods, making the city and its people unique. Anyone who visits the city can find their own niche where they will feel welcome. Chicago celebrates its individuality with a multitude of festivals and events, for example summer’s Taste of Chicago celebrates different foods and winter’s Christkindlmarket celebrates German and European tradition. The city welcomes anyone in any season, making it a great city to visit year round.

To read more about Chicago and the Conde Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards, click here.

Springfield Park District - Robin Roberts StadiumThe Robin Roberts Stadium at Lanphier Park in Springfield was voted Best Collegiate Summer League Stadium last week by Ballpark Digest.

Robin Roberts Stadium went head-to-head with Newport, Rhode Island's Cardines Field in the final round of voting, where the Springfield stadium took the cake with more than three quarters of the vote.

The 2022 Best of the Ballparks contest is based on criteria like the stadium's history, geographic factors, editors' personal evaluations of the ballparks, and performance in prior fan contests.

The near century-old stadium on Springfield's north side first opened for use in 1925 under the name Reservoir Park, when the team was named 'The Springfield Senators'. The Senators played in Springfield for a number of years, ultimately retiring in 1951, leaving the Capital City without a professional baseball team until 1978, when the Springfield Redbirds came to town.

In the 1970s, the park was renamed to Robin Roberts Stadium after baseball Hall of Fame pitcher Robin Roberts, a graduate of Lanphier High School in Springfield who played for the Philadelphia Phillies from 1950 to 1955. 

The current league was founded as the Springfield Sliders in 2008 and has been the Stadium's longest tenant. They began playing again in 2022 after a change in ownership in 2021 - now under the name 'Springfield Lucky Horseshoes'. The new name is a nod to a local favorite, the famed Horseshoe Sandwich.

Learn more about the Robin Roberts Stadium on the Springfield Park District's website here.