The dog days have arrived with a vengeance – stay cool while enjoying an art trek!

November 20, 2012


In the past several years, there’s been an increasing awareness of the positive impact that “buying local” has on our communities. Many Southernmost Illinois local art galleries and boutiques offer a mix of locally produced,

Southpass beads necklace

original, one-of-a-kind fine art, fine craft, and functional art in a wide range of price points.  Shopping at these establishments is a win-win for all – the shopper acquires a unique piece of art or craft, and the money spent is recycled into the local economy.

Dayshift Boutique Grand Openingth at 4:00 p.m.

On March 1st of this year, Chris McKinley became the new owner of Dayshift Boutique and has been revamping the Carbondale shop ever since in preparation for its grand opening.    She is currently representing over 50 regional artists, some of whom are well established and others who are new to the art world.  In her shop, one can find a wide range of merchandise, including handbags, clothing, jewelry, fine art, photography, blown glass, kitchen and dining room decor, metalwork, ceramics, rugs, pet items, wine racks, greeting cards, and children’s accessories in the kid’s section.  And the best part is -it’s all one-of-a-kind, original, and handmade by a Southern Illinois artist.

One of Chris’s goals is to dispel the myth that specialty shops such as hers only sell pricey art or high-end gifts.  Items for sale at Dayshift range from $1.00 to several hundred dollars with plenty of products priced to fit smaller budgets.  She is creating an environment where her customers can relax and enjoy the esthetics while shopping for that unique gift.  Chris welcomes custom orders and offers gift-wrapping for even greater customer convenience. 

  Dayshift is located in downtown Carbondale next to the old train depot where the Carbondale Chamber of Commerce and Carbondale Main Street offices are located.  The shop is currently open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm, Friday from noon to 8:00 pm, Saturday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm and is closed on Sunday and Monday.  For more information, call (618) 529-DAYS (3297), email

BEAT THE HEAT – Carbondale Community Friday Night Fair

Where: Downtown Carbondale, On the Town Square, corner of 51N and 13W

Description: Described as a Back to Basics event, this event features local home-grown produce, hand-made products, information about local services and organizations, a kid’s corner, food court, and free live music each Friday eveningth.  This sounds like a great way for vendors to sell their arts and crafts and beat the summer heat!   Artists wishing to participate in this event can find more information at

Upcoming class at Southpass Beads in Cobden  
Where: Southpass Beads, 203 Ash Street, Cobden, IL 

Southpass Beads welcomes Vickie Muich, a teaching bead artist from St. Louis for another visit to Cobden.  Vickie taught several bead weaving classes at Southpass Beads to teach “Capturing a Cabochon Bead Weaving”. Class fee is $50 – supplies vary as some will be available in the class price.  Participants may bring some of their own bead supplies and will learn to use Peyote stitch to encase their cabochons.  The class will also discuss design elements and the part color can play in a piece.  For more information, contactLouAnn Elwell at 618-893-6170 or

John F Boyd: A Retrospective Exhibit

Where: anthill gallery & vintage curiosities, 102 Front St., Cobden, IL

Description:  anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is pleased to announce that due to its popularity, the retrospective exhibition and sale of work by the late John F. Boyd, formerly of Cobden, Illinois will continue into August.   The collection contains a wide range of John’s original artwork including watercolors, pen and inks, etchings, and mixed media.  During his career, John was the recipient of an Emmy Award for a children’s art program which he created for public television.             Larger works by this artist are displayed for exhibition and sale at The Yellow Moon Cafe, 110 North Front Street, Cobden, Illinois.  

 Cobden artist and teacher, Paulette Aronson, will lead a 3-week art class at anthill gallery. The title of the class is “Altered Portraits.”  The class size will be limited to 8 and the $50 cost will include some materials.  Interested participants need to reserve a space in the class by making a deposit at the gallery during Wednesday through Sunday hours.

 Cobden jewelry artist BeckiDielfield displaysZuna Jewelry and Designs at anthill gallery & vintage curiosities on Wednesdays.

 anthill gallery & vintage curiosities is open Wednesday noon to 4:00 pm.; Thursday through Friday from noon to 6:00 pm; Saturday from 10:00 am to 6:00 pm; and Sunday from noon to 4:00 pm.  The Yellow Moon Cafe is open Tuesday through Thursday from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm; Friday 10:00 am to 2:00 pm and 6:00 pm  to 10:00 p.m.; Saturday from 10:00 am to midnight.  For more information contact anthill gallery at (618) 303-3183 or visit their webpage at

 HALLOWEEN AFICIONADOS -  Ravens Bend Folk Art Gallery and Gift Shop Opened August 13th

Where:  5725 Wing Hill Rd.  Cobden, IL 

Ravens Bend Folk Art Gallery and Gift shop is nestled in the Shawnee Hills of Southernmost Illinois at 5725 Wing Hill Road, Cobden, Illinois, 62920 (approximately one mile east of Star View Vineyards).  Ravens Bend specializes in fun, cheery, and functional Halloween folk art.  Owner Sharon Wittke designs and hand paints trick-or-treat bowls, cupcake trays, cookie plates, candy containers, and other Halloween-themed useful (and some not-quite-so-useful) items. Commercially produced Halloween decor by Jim Shore, Willa Rae, Lang, and Department 56 is also available.  Ravens Bend is open Saturdays from 11:00 a.m. to 5 p.m. from Aug. 13th through Oct. 29th, and other days by chance.  For more information, email or visit


 Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival

Where:  Down Town Park, Cobden,IL

The 2013 Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Fall Festival is just around the corner and will feature more of the best that Southern Illinois has to offer, only bigger and better than ever before!  

Join all thirteen Shawnee Hills Wine Trail wineries for fine wines, live music, a grape stomp, great food, local artisans and more!Bring a chair or bring a blanket and enjoy award-winning southern Illinois wines on a beautiful fall afternoon. Live music will include Blues Handle on Saturday and The Kevin Lucas Orchestra on Sunday.  Entry Fee is $15 and includes 13 tasting coupons and a $5.00 coupon to use at any of the 13 Shawnee Hills Wine Trail Wineries. For more information, visit

Illinois needs you to show your Illinois Patronage!

Nothing can be more important to a state's spirit than to show off your patronage. Its good for local businesses when the citizens of Illinois show a friendly place for travelers to visit. Be sure to stock up from places selling Illinois apperal and post an Illinois flag where ever possible. Apparel - UOI

Murphysboro Apple Festival Arts & Crafts Fair

Where: North 13th Street, Murphysboro, IL

The Murphysboro Apple Festival is the oldest and largest alcohol free festival in southern Illinois. The Arts & Crafts Fair is a festival favorite each year and brings a wide mix of crafters from across the region. Hand-made items such as seasonal decorations, jewelry, personal and household accessories are among many items to catch your eye. Stroll the outdoor booths on Friday, Saturday and Sunday and enjoy the old fashioned flavor of the street fair atmosphere.

For more information, phone (618) 684-3200 or visit

 Illinois Wine and Arts Festival at Rend Lake

Where:  Southern Illinois Art and Artisan Center, Whittington, IL

Don’t miss the 12th Annual Art and Wine Festival on the grounds of the Southern Illinois Art and Artisans Center, Rend Lake. Fifty Illinois artisans will demonstrate their craft and offer work for sale during this ever popular outdoor festival. Taste varietals from thirteen different wineries, enjoy local specialty foods and listen to local music as you “Shop Illinois” for functional and decorative art. Come and enjoy the fun. For more information, contact Mary Lou Galloway at (618) 629-2220 or visit

Enjoy Southern Illinois!


What is Stand Up Paddle Boarding?

July 20, 2012

So what is stand up paddle boarding?  Basically you stand up on a surfboard, then paddle around using a long oar.  It is a combination of surfing and canoeing. Once you are able to keep a balance and get the hang of it, it allows you to enjoy being out on the water without ever getting wet.  While stand up paddle boarding is afairly easy sport to grasp, it is always a good idea to learn the basic and proper techniques right from the start.

You may have seen some stand up paddle boarders riding the lake.  There seems to be an upsurge in interest in paddle boarding on Lake Michigan.  While Lake Michigan may not be the first location that comes to mind when you think of a stand up paddle spot, the lake is a surprisingly ideal location to enjoy this sport. During the summer months, gentle winds and warmer water combine for a smooth, fresh water paddling experience.  

The Great Lakes Board Company is on North Avenue Beach and they rent paddle boards for $25 an hour.  Whether you want to leisurely glide across the water or get a great workout racing across the beach, stand-up paddle boarding is for everyone.  Give it a stroke! There are accessories and stand up paddle board racks here.

Enjoy summer,

Mary Cashman

Canoe the Cache River

July 18, 2012

Cool off this summer at the Cache River State Natural Area in the southern tip of Illinois.  Every summer, I spent a pleasant afternoon on the Lower Cache River. There’s an access point within the natural area where I put my canoe in the water. A large dock and a concrete ramp make getting a boat in the water simple and convenient. A well-marked canoe path, the Lower Cache River Trail, threads along the northern edge of the wetlands. My canoe is in the water, and it’s time for me to get on the water.

    Pushing the duckweed aside reveals a large turtle where I have to put my foot. Moving him gently with my paddle, I step into the cool water, get onto my canoe and push away from the ramp. A fantastic vista greets my eyes. The bright emerald green duckweed covers much of the surface of the water and ancient, stately cypress trees rise from randomly scattered patches of button bush. Many old, snarled trunks of trees, glorious at one time, grace the landscape. Centuries of time and weather have shaped them into incredible, surreal, sculptures.

     Duckweed, though it looks slimy, is actually a floating mass comprised of small leafy plants. It is of tremendous value to the health of the wetlands. It keeps the water cool and provides a habitat for many species of wildlife. 

    It’s a beautiful day with a brilliant blue sky and white fluffy clouds. A mild breeze blows out of the south, making gentle ripples on the water. Tree Swallows twitter and dive for flying bugs. Prothonotary Warblers peek shyly at me from their perches in the cypress trees.  A loud noise shatters the quiet and

Blue Heron

a very disturbed Great Blue Heron flies in and out of sight among the trees. Gliding along, looking at the scenery, I see a pencil sized object push slowly upward through the duckweed. It gently drops back into the water when approached. It is the nose of a snapping turtle getting a breath of air. Large carp slap my boat as it cuts a wake through the swamp.

    Rounding a bend in the one of the channels, I hear the quiet murmur of voices. I move in their direction and discover a pair of fishermen in a Jon boat. They’re using a trolling motor to quietly work around the snags. After talking for a little while, they show me a pair of very nice bass they’ve caught. On one of my future trips, I just might bring a fishing rod.

    The canoe trail eventually comes to a huge, impressive, gnarled, bald cypress tree. It is the state champion.  This tree is 73 feet tall, has a trunk circumference of 34 feet 3 inches measured at 4.5 feet above the river bottom and boasts a crown spread of 35 feet. It is a massive sentinel that has been here for more than 1,000 years.

State Champion Bald Cypress

    The cypress trees are a mix of live and dead wood. Green branches, bearing the round green cypress cones, intermingle with oddly bent snags. They often have a crown of branches at what looks like the maximum water level. This–combined with buttonbush, duckweed, and submerged logs that look like alligators waiting in ambush–give this place an otherworldly feeling.

    Paddling back to the boat access, I hear the occasional quiet sploosh. Turtles basking on logs gently slide into the water as I near them. I am at the boat ramp now and it’s time for me to get out of the water and head home. It is actually hard to leave. This is a wonderful place to be.

    Everyone will find something of interest in southern Illinois’ wetlands. The Barkhausen-Cache River Wetlands Center in Cypress offers a comfortable meeting and stopping place with multimedia presentations, a fascinating museum and programs of all sorts that help acquaint people with the wetlands. From Vienna, Ill., go west five miles on state Route 146 from the intersection of Route 146 & U.S. Highway 45. Turn left (south) on state Route 37 and drive nine miles to the Wetlands Center entrance. Follow the signs.

     When you go:     For more information, contact the Southernmost Illinois Tourism Bureau at 800-248-4373    While there’s no overnight camping in the natural area, a variety of lodging and restaurant options can be found in this part of southern Illinois. The area also is noted for a wine trail; you might consider seeing the Cache River Basin Winery and getting a bite to eat at the restaurant on site.

    Before heading out on the canoe trail, don’t forget to pack helpful equipment such as a GPS or map, compass, dry bags for gear, water, snacks, sunscreen, a hat, insect repellent, a good personal floatation device and a cell phone.

Enjoy Southern Illinois!


Bicycle Illinois

July 5, 2012

Bicycle Group Cycling Across Illinois Will Stop in Champaign July 13th Champaign, IL – On Wednesday July 13, about twenty tired bicyclists will stop for the night in Champaign on the fourth stop of “Bicycle Illinois,” a 500-mile, six-day bicycle tour that calls on riders to cycle the entire length of Illinois from Cairo to Chicago.By the time the cyclists begin arriving at the new University of Illinois Activities and Recreation Center in the early afternoon, each one will have already completed about 325 miles of their total journey, having ridden at least 93 miles from Effingham that day, stopping along the way in Neoga, Mattoon, Arcola, and Pesotum.  The riders will spend the night either indoors on the gym floor or outdoors in tents and depart the next morning for the ride to Kankakee, stopping along the way in Rantoul, Loda, Onarga, and Ashkum.The next day, every cyclist will have to test their endurance by completing a mandatory 100 mile ride.  Known as a “century ride”, this single-day challenge is the cycling equivalent of running a marathon. While many of the cyclists will be completing a century ride for the first time and will undoubtedly be relieved once they’ve successfully arrived in Kankakee, a few of the stronger cyclists will have also completed a century ride every day of the tour.  These extreme riders will be 

Biking Illinois

 trying to earn membership to Bicycle Illinois’ exclusive “700 Club” by cycling at least 100 miles seven days in a row, including the Tri-State Tour, a one day ride from Hammond, IN to Kenosha, WI that immediately follows Bicycle Illinois.Bicycle Illinois is not a race however and there is a strict “no one left behind” policy so each cyclist can travel at his or her own pace and not need to worry about being left behind. The ride is also fully supported and every necessity is prearranged and included in the price of the trip such as nightly lodging arrangements, meals, baggage transportation, the route, and vehicle support on the road.  Other services, such as massages and hotel rooms, are also available for an additional cost. They even provide GPS Fleet Tracking so friends and family can join in from their internet connection. While the tour’s participants come from a broad background, they quickly develop a common bond through their love of cycling.  Ability levels range from recreational riders who have never attempted an extended cycling trip to competitive athletes who have completed several triathlons and multi-day bicycle tours. Riders’ ages range from teenagers to senior citizens and women make up about a third of the riders.  While about half of the participants live in the Chicago area and another 25% are from other parts of Illinois and surrounding states, the remaining 25% have travelled across the country to participate.  Tour director Rob Layton’s goal is for Bicycle Illinois to become the largest annual cross-state bicycle tour in the country and a destination for cyclists from around the world.This is the eighth consecutive year for the ride, and participation in each year’s event continues to grow.  In fact interest in next year’s tour is already building. The Champaign County Convention and Visitors Bureau continues to support this event by providing community resources for the riders while they are in Champaign County. For more information contact Bicycle Illinois at (877) TOUR-ILL (868-7455) or visit Organization founder and tour director Rob Layton is a native Chicagoan.  He is an accomplished bike rider, having cycled across the entire country and an experienced trip leader with active membership in the National Bicycle Tour Directors Association.