History of the 1869 Eclipse


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Last Solar Eclipse in Illinois
Joe McFarland
Video Comentary

1869: The last total solar eclipse in Illinois

by Joe McFarland

Here’s a surprising Illinois eclipse fact: Nobody alive has seen a total solar eclipse anywhere in Illinois. Nobody.

If you think you remember seeing a total solar eclipse in Illinois, you are mistaken. The fact is, the state of Illinois has witnessed just one total solar eclipse in its entire history. Illinois became a state in 1818. Five decades later, on August 7, 1869, the only total solar eclipse ever to cast its shadow over the Prairie State passed directly along a 156.7-mile-wide portion of central Illinois, including Springfield, and perfectly clear skies made it a phenomenal moment in state history.

There has not been another total solar eclipse in Illinois since that day.

People casually describe seeing a total solar eclipse as a once-in-a-lifetime experience. But it’s actually much more rare, on average, for anyone to witness a total solar eclipse wherever they live. Once every few hundred years is the worldwide average. For example, when the August 21, 2017 total solar eclipse passes directly over Makanda, Illinois, it will have been 575 years since a total solar eclipse passed over this spot on Earth. If you had been standing in what would eventually become Makanda, Illinois on July 7, 1442 (nine years before Christopher Columbus was born), you would have seen it. And you would have wanted to mark the occasion, just as officials in Springfield wanted to mark the rare occasion in 1869.

In 1869, everybody in Springfield knew the August 7 eclipse was coming. Government scientists from the United States Coast Survey and leading universities arrived months in advance to take astronomical measurements and plot out the exact coordinates. Construction of the new Statehouse Capitol had just started, and officials decided to install marble shafts on Capitol grounds to forever commemorate the eclipse and the positions on Earth where scientists observed that monumental moment.

Marble shafts seven-feet long were inscribed to mark the longitude and latitude coordinates the government scientists had recently established to calculate the positions of their official eclipse-observation stations around Springfield.

The day of the eclipse arrived and, for whatever reasons, the marble shafts had not yet been erected. This was Springfield. Construction of the new Capitol was under way. Workers had other things to do. The fact was, nobody installed the pillars. And so, as the sunny afternoon sky of August 7, 1869, changed to purple, then black, spilling forth starlight upon the Land of Lincoln, the beacon of efficiency that is the Illinois State Capitol building had been established.

The eclipse truly was a phenomenal sight under perfectly clear skies. Crowds cheered from rooftops, others gasped in awe while all business of the city surrendered under the surreal darkness. The scientists with their instruments tried their best to focus as the moment of totality arrived. Photographic plates were exposed at quickly timed intervals. Falling temperatures were noted and tracked. Sketches were made. Anything of scientific importance—the color of the sun’s corona, the settling wind, the flash of white light that heralded the return of the sun—was to be timed, measured and documented as memorable detail for further study. But even a pure scientist’s quest for astronomical understanding falters when the moon passes directly in front of the sun. The astronomers were so overwhelmed by the realization that nothing they were doing could properly describe the experience. All voluntarily added non-scientific confessions and terms to their official reports.

“The spectacle was of an indescribable beauty, and one for which the mind was by no means prepared,” Harvard scientist James M. Pierce included in his Congressional report. “In casually glancing at the bystanders, I was struck by the pallor of their faces, but I have not noted at which [times] I observed this phenomenon.”

“The general effects of the eclipse were extremely grand and impressive,” J.B. Warner of the U.S. Coast Survey reported cautiously to his boss. “The shadows had the cold, unreal appearance of moon-shadows, and the whole effect on the mind was chilling.”

And then it passed. The summer of 1869 continued in Springfield. Construction of the Statehouse resumed, but nobody bothered to keep track among all of the construction debris of the marble shafts that were supposed to be posted deep into solid ground as permanent records of the astronomical wonder that was the only total solar eclipse Illinois has ever seen.

A decade passed. The Illinois State Register in Springfield took note of the eclipse anniversary by pointing out nobody had actually put those marble eclipse markers into the ground. In fact, the taxpayer-funded monuments were nowhere to be seen.

A search was made among the construction debris of the new Capitol, and within two weeks the ten-year-old shafts were discovered. How the markers were eventually placed on Statehouse grounds is unclear today. The government scientists who had temporarily marked the meridian lines a decade earlier weren’t around. But into the Statehouse grounds the markers went, by someone’s decision.

One-hundred-forty-eight years later, the exact spot where somebody in Springfield decided something endures today. Visitors to Springfield should look on the lawn between the Monroe Street sidewalk and the north side of the Capitol. A weathered marble monument, fifteen-inches square, presumably the top of a seven-foot shaft, is all that remains of the “grand and impressive” spectacle of 1869.

The scientists who gathered here to make their meridian calculations all those years ago might dispute the location of this North Meridian Station monument. Doubtless, they would say even words chiseled in stone cannot describe what they actually saw that August afternoon in 1869, the only time the moon has completely covered the sun in Illinois history.

Eclipse Edition

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Eclipse Edition

Frasier Crane would counsel you never to count out ‘Young Sheldon’


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Will CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” spinoff “Young Sheldon,” following the younger version of Jim Parson
Sean Stangland
Video Comentary

Will CBS’ “The Big Bang Theory” spinoff “Young Sheldon,” following the younger version of Jim Parsons’ iconic sitcom character, be a “Frasier,” a “Joey” or an “Enos”?

You’ve certainly heard of the first one — “Frasier” took Kelsey Grammer’s psychiatrist out of that Boston bar called “Cheers” and put him in a Seattle radio studio, where he doled out advice to wacky callers when he wasn’t participating in farcical high jinks with his brother (David Hyde Pierce) and father (John Mahoney). “Frasier” premiered in 1993 just months after “Cheers” ended and won 37 Emmys in its 11 seasons. (“Cheers” won 28.)

You’ve probably heard of “Joey,” but don’t remember much about it except the name and the star. Matt LeBlanc reprised his lovable, dimwitted role from “Friends” in this mediocre half-hour that ran out of gas in 2006 after two seasons — despite a fun cast that included Drea de Matteo of “The Sopranos” and Jennifer Coolidge, aka Stifler’s Mom. (Speaking of which, if you haven’t seen the original “American Pie” lately, I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised by how funny it still is.)

And then there’s “Enos.” Do you remember “Enos”? (I didn’t think so.) “Enos” followed the “Dukes of Hazzard” character from Georgia to Los Angeles, where star Sonny Shroyer fought crime for 18 episodes in 1980 and ’81 until CBS pulled the plug. Perhaps the most notable thing about this failed show is Shroyer’s co-star, Samuel E. Wright. You may not know his name, but you’ve heard his voice sing “Under the Sea” about a million times; he played Sebastian the crab in 1989’s “The Little Mermaid.”

Of course, it will be nearly impossible for “Young Sheldon” to reach the heights of “Frasier.” Few sitcoms have. It’s extremely difficult to create a spinoff that fully distinguishes itself from the source material unless you’re a TV genius like Vince Gilligan (“Better Call Saul”), Dick Wolf (“Law & Order: Special Victims Unit”) or Garry Marshall (“Laverne and Shirley”).

But maybe, just maybe, “Sheldon” executive producer Chuck Lorre belongs in that pantheon. His shows’ many detractors would scoff at the notion, but his track record speaks for itself: “The Big Bang Theory” is on the cusp of its 11th season and will run for at least one more. “Two and a Half Men” survived Charlie Sheen’s replacement with Ashton Kutcher and ran for 12 seasons. “Mom” is about to begin its fifth season on CBS, and Allison Janney has two Emmys to show for it.

“Young Sheldon” has been a Twitter punchline since it was first announced, but don’t be shocked if it’s still on 10 years from now. That tends to happen with CBS shows, doesn’t it? (Did you know “Survivor” is still going?!?)

 

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• Sean Stangland is a multiplatform editor who, in the interest of full disclosure, says he can’t stand “The Big Bang Theory.” Email him at sstangland@localsouthernnews.com; follow him on Twitter at @SeanStanglandDH.

Mother (1/2*)


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It’s not uncommon for a horror movie to recreate the sensation of a nightmare.
Bryan Miller
Video Comentary

Mother (1/2*)


It’s not uncommon for a horror movie to recreate the sensation of a nightmare.

In Mother!, which is as much a horror movie as it is anything easily categorical, writer-director Darren Aronofsky recreates the sensation of a very particular kind of nightmare: one of those dreams where it’s imperative that you perform some minor task, like washing the dishes, but a series of surreal and illogical encounters keeps holding you back. It seems like it takes hours, days. You wake up tense and frustrated.

Audience punishment is Aronovsky’s stock in trade. Even the best of his movies (Black Swan, The Wrestler) are arduous endurance tests. His most off-putting work (Noah, The Fountain) makes the classic arthouse miscalculation of equating misery with profundity.

Just because something’s anti-commercial doesn’t make it inherently deep.

Mother! is bluntly allegorical. The two lead characters are referred to only as Mother and Him, a little detail that should signal the kind of groan-and-forehead-slap festival that is about to commence.

Him (Javier Bardem) is a renowned poet with a single, massively influential piece of work. He’s riding out his writer’s block in a beautiful old country home, once burned but now being artfully rehabbed by his beautiful young wife. That would be Mother (Jennifer Lawrence).

The couple becomes embroiled in what is essentially a lengthy one-act play somewhere at the nexus of Beckett and Brecht and the kind of thing Roman Polanski would adapt for the screen. An ailing doctor (Ed Harris) blunders into the house and turns out to be a massive fan of our poet, who invites him to stay for a few days. The doctor is soon joined by his rude, predatory wife (a pretty fierce Michelle Pfiefer), and eventually their sons.

Mother!’s running motif is terrible houseguests. Everyone who comes into our heroine’s home treats it like a public bathroom at a music festival. She scrambles from one domestic injustice to the next, straining to maintain politeness, while her guests bafflingly refuse to acknowledge their transgressions. It’s basically a Midwesterner’s version of torture porn.

The maddening conflict carries on for an interminable hour or more before what might loosely be defined as a twist resets the film for a few blessedly peaceful seconds…and then it returns to that exact same conflict, ramped up to riotously lunatic proportions until it resembles some Boschian circus that plays like the apocalyptically lurid parties of JG Ballard and Robert Coover.

But there’s really only one book important in Mother!, and it’s The Book. The Biblical allusions practically come with flashing asterisks on the screen complete with close-captioned explanatory footnotes (look, kids, it’s Cain and Abel!). They’re part of some larger symbolic story about God and creation and the way people are ruining the planet.

The thing about Mother! is, it’s all symbolism. Movies certainly needn’t hew to conventional narrative structure, but what Aronofsky has achieved here is more like the aimless pondering of a college sophomore who just read his first Nietzsche, conveyed by artfully rendered but fatuous metaphors. On top of all the intended upleasantries, Mother! evokes a maddening, nauseating sensation of disorientation because whatever passes for a story is entirely and unevenly jerked along by the demands of the allegory. You could charitably describe the characters’ behavior as cryptic, but you could just as accurately say that everyone behaves inexplicably.

Aronofsky’s inevitable defenders can belabor the Biblical symbolism and environmentalist metaphors all they want, but all the pseudo-intellectual self-justification dodges the larger point: Is Aronofsky even actually saying anything (doubtful), and if so, was this even close to the best and most articulate way to say it (certainly not).

It’s awfully conspicuous that the best way Darren Aronofsky could indulge in his miserablist philosophizing is via a story about an aging poet married to a beautiful young girl played by Jennifer Lawrence—when Aronofsky is in fact an aging artist dating a beautiful young girl who actually is Jennifer Lawrence.

For all the movie’s would-be jokey attempts to cast the poet as a buffoonish ego-monster, let’s not forget that he is a poet, and there’s never any real question that his work is transcendently brilliant. That it’s so profound it makes the most beautiful woman alive weep and drives the masses into a frenzy, even if the indifferently cruel, anonymous rabble are too crude to know what to do with it. And Aronofsky chooses to convey all this with the same sensory-overload-sadism he leans into whenever someone else doesn’t write the script. For all his feints toward self-effacing humor, Aronofsky’s movie plays more like a feature-length humblebrag.

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Basically, Mother! is the Requiem for A Dream of being all the way up your own ass.

Roxie Randle: Road to Nashville


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Roxie Randle: Road to Nashville
Dakota Holden
Video Comentary


Roxie Randle comes from a small town of about 554 people, and now she’s living in Nashville, Tennessee playing music full-time.

Singer and songwriter Randle will take the stage at 2 p.m., on Saturday at Blue Sky. Nightlife had the chance to talk with Roxie about her road to Nashville and her new CD, Stripped and Covered.

“I started singing at age eight or nine in church,” Randle said. “Of course, I did choir in grade school and high school. Then, in college, I started to learn guitar and start writing my own songs.”

Though she started singing at a young age, it wasn’t until her final years in college when she realized playing music was going to be her profession.

“I think I was studying for a Spanish test and thinking how much I hated it,” she said. “I remember the moment. I did not want to do this for career.”

Randle moved to Nashville right after college. Years later, she opened for Teri Clark and Mel Tillis as well as making it the state finals of Colgate Country Showdown (Country Music Competition).

Randle plays a variety of genres including country, pop, and acoustic alternative that resonate from her early influences.

“I loved Trisha Yearwood,” she said. “As far as country music goes, she’s the best, even outside of country music. Her voice really speaks to me. I’ve always been a big fan of Amy Grant. I’ve listened to her since I was little. She was a songwriter and that gave me a different role model.”

Randle talked with Nightlife about working as an independent artist in the music business.

“Every task is on me,” she said. “I’m responsible for booking, marketing, to the actual performance. I have to wear a lot of different hats and switch hats quickly.”

Though a lot of groups and performers in Nashville are independent, Randle said the positive aspects of doing business this way are worth the effort.

“I don’t have to run my create ideas past anybody,” she said. “I am in total control of my artistic direction. The benefit is that I don’t have to share my profits with a record label.”

Roxie Randle’s new album Stripped and Covered was inspired by the energy of live acoustic shows.

“I decided to do a cover album,” she said. “I could do a cover song and put my own spin on it. I didn’t have to play it exactly like the record. People were wanting to buy a cd’s at my show, which meant they liked what they heard. I wanted people to take home what they heard at the live show, so the can re-experience it. I recorded a live album, just without the audience.”

Giving herself only three takes of each song, she chose the best out of the group and moved on to the next tune. Though it is a cover album, Roxie still managed to squeeze three originals onto the new record.

When not on her solo show tour, she is playing with her duo group As Girls Go with singer/songwriter Kimber Cleveland or acting in indie movies in Nashville.

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Readers of Nightlife are welcome to a 20 percent off coupon for her online store if they use the code NIGHTLIFE at www.roxierandle.com/store.

“Anything Goes” with The Great Affairs at John Brown’s


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Nightlife
Tara Janowick
Video Comentary

 

Americana band The Great Affairs are coming to the hidden music venue on the city square in Marion, just next to city hall, John Brown’s on the Square Friday.

Front man Denny Smith started the “The Great Affairs” in 2009, as an offshoot of the band he was in at the time, fORMER. Smith had amassed a wide base of material leaned more into the Americana genre than the harder Rock and Power Pop of fORMER. He and his then guitarist started Great Affairs as an outlet for those songs. The band consists of: Denny Smith, vocal, guitars, harmonica; Patrick Miller, lead guitar and vocals; Matt Andersen on bass and vocals, and Kenny Wright on vocals, drums, and percussion.

Although the band has experienced additional changes in the lineup, in its current inception, Great Affairs has been playing together for four years. When fORMER eventually disbanded for good, its catalog of tunes of tunes was absorbed into the new band’s lineup, and the two styles just melded to create what they do now, which is something of a cross between the sounds of Cheap Trick and the style of Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers.

Smith says the band is not a hard rock band or a pop band.

“It’s a sound that is weird to classify, but somewhere in the middle. It can be tricky at times, but it works,” he said.

Not only does The Great Affairs perform popular covers of the Americana style, but they also write a lot of their own music.

Wright, drummer and co-lead singer, and Smith write the bulk of the band’s originals, although everyone in the band pitches in. Developing the sound is a collaborate effort, but Kenny and Denny are the primary composers. Their songs have been featured in films and television. Songs from Denny’s recent solo record will be used in two Amazon/Roku productions that should be airing in the next few months.

The band released a covers EP a few months ago, which included Thin Lizzy and a classic Fleetwood Mack song. More covers that the audience can expect to hear at the upcoming performance at John Brown’s include mostly music from the ‘70s and ‘80s, including lots of Tom Petty, KISS, The Beatles, Cheap Trick, some AC/DC, and Credence Clearwater Revival.

They don’t stray too far from their roots, and don’t do all of the obvious stuff, avoiding the “no brainer” covers.

“We try to keep it interesting... ‘anything goes’ is a theme most nights,” he said.

Smith said John Brown’s on the Square in Marion is one of the band’s favorite places to play.

“It was one of these weird things where I was going through looking at venues where similar bands were playing. There were always cool bands playing at John Brown’s. I ended up contacting him, and he was a great guy from the get go,” he said. I don’t think we’ve ever had a bad show there. They treat everybody so well. I don’t think we’ve ever had that level of hospitality right out of the gate. He and his wife Missy are just really great people. And the sound is great; you just sound really good when you play there. They’ve really hit the nail on the head with that joint.”

The band had played at John Brown’s before a fire destroyed most of the building in January of 2016, and had an April fools show scheduled there coming up that year. They came to Marion to play a benefit concert at the VFW to help in the rebuilding efforts

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An Eve of Timeless Elegance Benefit Banquet: African American History Museum 20th anniversary


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An Eve of Timeless Elegance Benefit Banquet: African American History Museum 20th anniversary
Alexis Estes
Video Comentary

If you’re looking for some friendly family fun this weekend, join The African American History Museum of Southern Illinois in its 20thanniversary celebration on Saturday at the Carbondale Civic Center.

The event is titled “An Eve of Timeless Elegance Benefit Banquet.”

Not only is this a time to celebrate the museum’s success, but this event also serves to raise funds to continue operating.

Carolin Harvey, an original member since 1997, talks about this weekend’s agenda- guests can expect to enjoy dinner, and a night full of music and fun.

“There will be a spoken word performance [by poet Samuel Hawkins], dinner, music by The Phonics,” Harvey said. “And an opportunity to dance the night away.”

Founded in 1997, by the Southern Illinois Achievers, the African American Museum of Southern is a non-for-profit organization solely committed to educating the community about African American culture and history. The museum, run by volunteers and a selected few board members, is “dedicated to identifying, preserving and portraying the outstanding achievements of African American Citizens, and is the only African American History Museum between Chicago and Chattanooga” (African American History Museum of Southern Illinois)

The city of Carbondale has become an epicenter for all types of cultures and different walks of life and The African American museum gives a voice to a culture some think can only be defined in one way — a culture that can be tainted by a lack of understanding and openness to understand.

By having this banquet, the African American Museum hopes to celebrate a legacy that is stepping out of obscurity into the light.

Being around for 20 years is a milestone for any organization,” Harvey said. “This event will serve a twofold purpose. It will celebrate the Museum›s 20th anniversary and will serve as a fundraiser for the Museum.

“We will continue to provide awareness about the importance of African Americans to the history of our society and our country.”

For 20 years, the museum has been a staple for diversity and cultural education for the Carbondale community.

The reception will start at 6 p.m. and dinner will be served at 7 p.m..

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For tickets, call 618-303-1973.

Raddle at the Bottoms set for September 24


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Raddle at the Bottoms set for September 24
Dakota Holden
Video Comentary

Bottoms: Prepare to be raddled.

On Sept. 24, the annual Raddle at the Bottoms Bluegrass Benefit will blast music into the eardrops of those at St. Ann’s Church. St. Ann’s is located about a mile and a half down Raddle Road, which is about 12 miles south of Chester on Illinois 3.

The festival will feature music, food, and an auction. All proceeds will be going to Sandra’s Comfort, a foundation that assists financially for cancer patients and their families.

Angela said Sandra’s Comfort is a not-for-profit organization that she started when her mother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer.

“It was almost 11 years ago she passed away,” she said. “So, we started Sandra’s Comfort to help cancer patients with their financial burden. We gained moment and this year, we have helped forty-four cancer patients with more than $39,000.”

The organization is Southern Illinois based, but they have helped patients from Missouri, Arizona, Kentucky, Tennessee, and New York.

Though Sandra’s Comfort has been able to help more people than the start, Angela is deeply concerned with being able to fund the organization.

“Two years ago, we had 33 patients — last year forty-four,” she said. “I don’t ever want to turn down a cancer patient and I’m begging everyone for their support.”

Angela is expecting more 1,200 people to raddle the bottoms, and is hoping for support from the community to keep Sandra’s Comfort afloat and continue to help those in need.

This year, the bands will include:

Beth Davis, Tim Crosby, Pint and a Half, Adam Lee, Ethan Stephenson, the new Raddle House Band, and the Howlin’ Brothers. Angela Dilday, the head organizer for the event, told Nightlife about the show and the charity.

This will be our eleventh Raddle at the Bottoms, so we have the Raddle House Band this year,” she said. “It includes people have been in various bands from the beginning, and plan on coming together. One out of this band and one out of that band. We thought it was a great idea.”

During the festival, there will be many different food options available including pulled pork, fried chicken, hot dogs, and egg rolls.

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There is a $5 admission charge for adults and children younger than 15 will be free to enter.

Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read


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Banned Books Week: Celebrating the Freedom to Read
Craig Wilson
Video Comentary

SIU’s Library Affairs and the Special Collections Research Center will once again celebrate Banned Books Week this year from Sept. 24 through Sept. 30.

The Special Collections Research Center (a department within Morris Library) has been celebrating Banned Books Week since 1982.

According to Pam Hackbart-Dean, Director of the Special Collections Research Center, this year will feature “an exhibit highlighting banned books” through Oct. 2.

“The exhibit will be located in Morris Library by the Abraham Lincoln head.  On Sept. 27, from 10 a.m. to noon, we will host a Banned Books Buffet,” she said.

At the buffet readers may explore books like Catcher in the Rye, Harry Potter, and Captain Underpants. There will be a selection of banned books, a selfie booth where visitors can take pictures with banned books, and snacks and refreshments. The event is free and open to students, staff and the general public.

Banned Books Week gets its impetus from the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom, but in its mission to raise awareness against censorship it has a global focus. Banned Books Week is a Non-Profit Organization which you can find on Facebook and elsewhere online.

“Since 1990, the American Library Association’s Office for Intellectual Freedom has received reports of 9,500 attempts to remove books deemed by some as inappropriate,” Dean said.

In 2016 alone, 323 books were challenged.

A challenge is an attempt by a group or individual to restrict a book that’s already in circulation. If a ban is placed a book it will then be removed from schools and libraries in the city or region where the successful challenge was filed. The ALA calls such a restriction of access to reading materials a threat to freedom of speech and choice. Part of the OIF’s mission is supporting librarians who face book challenges which may keep a book from being banned.

Examples from 2016’s top ten most challenged books include Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, I am Jazz by Jessica Herthel and Jazz Jennings, Make Something Up by Chuck Palahniuk, Two Boys Kissing by David Levithan and This One Summer by Mariko and Jillian Tamaki. Many titles, some of which are graphic novels, were challenged because of adult language, sexual content including exploration of homosexual and transgender themes, and in some cases, their cover artwork.

It was certain items held by Special Collections that prompted the local celebration of Banned Books Week.

“The Special Collections Research Center has Ralph E. McCoy’s personal collection of materials related to First Amendment freedoms,” Dean said. “This collection traces the intellectual history of the concept of freedom of expression in the UK and the USA from 1600 to the present. It’s perhaps the most rich and diverse research collection of printed materials in SCRC.”

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For further information, check out the website ala.org/bbooks.

Illinois Wine and Art Festival comes to Whittington


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Illinois Wine and Art Festival comes to Whittington
Leah Williams
Video Comentary

The long-standing event showcasing the finest wines and spectacular artists returns for another year offering some of the best Southern Illinois has to deliver.

The Illinois Wine and Art Festival holds its 18th annual event on Saturday, Sept. 23, and Sunday, Sept. 24. The celebration is located near Whittington on the grounds adjacent to the Southern Illinois Art and Artisan Center near the Golf Ball water tower.

Because the region is home to many talented artisans and wineries, the festival provides a place for thousands of travelers to sample different adult beverages and peruse through the booths various vendors on the festival grounds.

Jack Griggs, co-owner and marketing official of Pheasant Hill Winery in Whittington, said the outdoor festival began several years ago at the Southern Illinois Art and Artisan Center. When state budget woes could no longer pay for the festival promotions, a nonprofit organization was formed in 2014 to allow continued promotion and production of the event.

The budget impasse also forced the closure of the Artisan Center, but Griggs said the interest to continue the festival remained. So organizers decided to continue hosting the festival on the field near the center.

This year’s festival features an impressive 11 vendors and about 20 artisans. There are also four food vendors — Birdie’s Sports Grille at the Rend Lake Golf Course, Burton’s Cafe in Whittington, the Jack Russell Fish Co. in Benton and Uncle Joe’s BBQ in Ina.

Griggs said the purpose of the festival is to showcase some of the best Southern Illinois has to offer in eats, wines and spirits and also in art.

“We try to do as much local as we can,” Griggs said.

Griggs said the festival also includes a variety of music on its schedule, which begins on Saturday at about 11 a.m. with rhythm and blues singer Debbie Ross.

The midafternoon features Dennis Stroughmatt and Swing ‘N’ Country. Griggs said while Stroughmatt is known for playing with Creole Stomp, the other band provides an opportunity to hear a different musical side.

“It’s a good chance to hear his voice, that you don’t really get to with the Cajun music,” Griggs said.

Sunday is a day for rock n’ roll, with Carbondale-based band The Venturis who will perform a set of oldies at noon. Daniel Day concludes the day with classic rock tunes at 3 p.m.

Griggs said the different music is to ensure there is a variety of tastes represented.

“We try to plan it that way so that there’s something for everyone,” he said.

The entry fee into the festival includes sample tastings to all the wineries and a complimentary glass. Griggs said the festival has an atmosphere and an array of the products that keeps people coming back year after year.

“I think it’s a combination of the quality of the wineries and also the artists,” he said. “We have several representing everywhere from Effingham south.”

Griggs also said the event also attracts people from all over the area.

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“We get people from St. Louis and Paducah, who come down for an afternoon and eat for a while,” he said. “It’s a nice relaxing way to spend the weekend.”

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