A Girl’s Gotta Eat – The Taste of Chicago

The very first Taste of Chicago kicked off on July 4, 1980 on a blocked off section of Michigan Avenue.  Organizers anticipated 100,000 attendees but over 250,000 showed up.  The event moved to Grant Park the following year and became one of the world’s largest food festivals.  Additional changes were made in 2012 when organizers shortened the event from 10 days down to 5.  It also moved the event dates away from the July 4th weekend.

This year’s event runs from July 11-15 in Grant Park.  Wednesday – Friday hours are 11:00 am – 9:00 pm and then Saturday – Sunday hours are 10:00 am – 9:00 pm.  Admission is FREE but then you have to purchase tickets for food and beverages.  A strip of 14 tickets will run you $10.  You can purchase these online prior to the event (and pick them up at will call I am assuming), however, you are limited to only 2 strips per purchase this way.  And you will be hit with an additional $3.00 amenities surcharge.  Per strip.  And let me tell you, 14 tickets will not get you very far.  Here is what you should expect to spend, according to their website:

Plan Your Purchase:
“Taste of” Food Portions: 5-6 tickets
Full Food Portions:10-12 tickets
Soda/Water: 7-8 tickets
Beer: 11-14 tickets
Wine/Cocktails: 10-14 tickets

2019-07-10 16.58.08

This year over 80 eateries will be participating.  Some of these will be restaurants that are set up for all 5 days.  Some will be food trucks.  And some will be pop-ups that will only be there for one or two nights.  The Taste’s website has a great list of who will be there and what they will be serving.  It also tells you who will be in the rotating pop-up stands on each night.

2019-07-10 17.33.54

Beverages were available in all forms as well.  Goose Island, CH Distillery, and Stella Rosa all had their own tented lounge areas, but you could get other beer, wine, and cocktails at bar stands scattered throughout the festival.

Beverages

Apparently, there is entertainment as well.  I was only there for the food.  Music and cooking demonstrations are taking place all day.  You can see the full schedule here.

But let’s talk about the food.  Like the food truck festivals, this event is better with a group so you can try a variety of foods.  There were many Chicago staples there such as Lou Malnati’s pizza and the Billy Goat Tavern.  We are big fans of trying new things so here are some of the things we tasted:

Jerk Chicken with red beans and rice from Vee Vee’s African Restaurant:

2019-07-10 17.15.58

Mango Beef Salad from Arun’s:

2019-07-10 17.21.43

Snake Bites from Chicago’s Dog House:

2019-07-10 17.23.36

Five Spice Szechuan chicken from Lao Sze Chuan

2019-07-10 19.08.26

Cheddar Bacon Bun from Buscia’s Bacon Buns

2019-07-10 19.07.45

Italian Beef & Giardiniera Grilled Cheese from Doom Street Eats

2019-07-10 19.21.31

And then we finished strong with dessert.  The first was a Funnel Cake Sundae from Churro Factory – Xurro:

2019-07-10 20.18.11

And then some of us opted for something a little lighter with a scoop of Mango Ice Cream from Star of Siam:

2019-07-10 20.46.18

Parking is always an issue downtown, but you can get a discount at the millennium garages if you pre-purchase them online.

So, plan a day downtown during the fest and pop in and out for lunch, dinner, and dessert.  There is so much to choose from!

tastemap2019

Old Joliet Prison

The Joliet Correctional Center, also known as the Illinois State Penitentiary, is an inactive prison in Joliet, Illinois.  It was built in 1858 by inmates from the Illinois State Prison in Alton.  The 25-foot high walls and buildings were constructed with limestone that was quarried right from the area.  It closed for good in 2002 due to budget cuts and overall deterioration of the buildings.  Sadly, it sat for years, untouched and continued to deteriorate.  Vandals repeatedly found their way in and caused extensive damage in addition to general wear and tear from the elements.

2019-05-16 11.06.18

2019-05-16 11.39.46

The Joliet Area Historical Museum, and the city of Joliet, took control of the prison and started the long process of repairing the buildings and its grounds, in an effort to open it back up to tourists and history buffs.  This is still a work in progress, but what you can view is as beautiful as it is creepy.

2019-05-16 10.50.27

Tours opened to the public in 2018.  There are many options for a visit here and we opted for the basic $20 one.  I would like to go back for the guard tour though.  We had a former employee with us for part of our tour and his stories were fascinating.  The guard-led ones are only available once or twice a month, mostly on Saturdays, and they book up quickly.

The tour group begins with the exterior of the main building.  This unit housed the warden and his family.  It also housed the female inmates (and their children) on the top floor, until a separate prison was built for them across the street.  Due to a collapsed floor, we were not able to enter this portion of the prison at all.  I found some great pictures of a few of these rooms on this website.  The wrought-iron staircases and marble fireplaces (seen on that website) show how ornate this residence was at one point.

2019-05-16 10.59.43

2019-05-16 11.00.08

One of the first units we were able to get into was a holding cell.  As expected, the cells were small and uncomfortable.  You can also clearly see the effect that neglect and the elements have had on the interior of the prison.

2019-05-16 11.25.53

2019-05-16 11.26.19

2019-05-16 11.27.48

Prior to heading in to the first building, we got a glimpse of what solitary was like.  This small, cramped structure was not even indoors.

2019-05-16 11.25.40

2019-05-16 11.23.59

The hospital was another building we had access to.  No electricity, peeling paint, and antiquated medical equipment.  Plus, the knowledge that there was a psych ward a few floors up sent chills up my spine.

2019-05-16 11.44.59

2019-05-16 11.35.47

2019-05-16 11.37.31

Another aspect that made the hairs on the back on my neck stand up was, each time you got close to one of the entrances to a building, you felt a burst of cold air hit you.  They said it was because of the limestone but . . . they offer a Paranormal tour for a reason, right?

2019-05-16 11.47.57

My favorite stop was the prison church.  Renewing your faith in God was (is) an essential part of prison reform.  I love old churches.  But old, abandoned churches?  Hauntingly beautiful.

2019-05-16 12.00.39

2019-05-16 11.58.06

Let’s not forget that this prison is famous.  Starting with this iconic scene of “Joliet” Jake’s release from prison in the 1980’s classic film “The Blues Brothers” (video courtesy of YouTube and Universal Pictures):

That took place right here:

2019-05-16 11.17.16

The first season of the television show “Prison Break” was shot on location inside the facility.  Other shows/movies filmed inside/around the prison include “Public Enemies”, “Derailed”, “Let’s Go To Prison”, and “Natural Born Killers”.

It is sad that this historic site was left to deteriorate to the state it got to but, with tourism and other funding, repairs are being made on a daily basis.  I would love to see it restored someday to a point where you can safely enter every building.  Tours run through October – book yours now!

Chicago Food Truck Festival

(Not from Chicago?  Don’t want to have to drive into the city?  Google “Food Truck festivals near me”)

Mark your calendars for next year.  The Chicago Food Truck Festival only comes around once a year.  It usually takes place the weekend after Father’s Day and is a two-day festival of food (and some drinks).  This is the second time I have attended, and much has changed from two years ago.

First, let’s start with the good stuff.  Well, it’s all good when food is involved, but one of the best things about this food truck event is the fact that the tickets are FREE.  Free, people.  Free.  When you “purchase” them, it automatically gets you entrance for both days, however, you can only use them for one of the days, not both.  Which is great, because then you can wait to see what the weather will be like.

Another goodie is the free parking.  In Chicago.  How often does that gem pop up?  Granted, we got there right when it opened at 11:00 am, so I cannot vouch for any available spots in those lots any time after that.  But is does exist at some point.

The location was also different this year than it was two years ago.  And, it changed at the last minute this year because they had more trucks sign up.  Which was another bonus from two years ago.  More dining options (see list of vendors below):

Food Truck List collage

I suggested we do a lap first and see what was available and then start digging in.  That didn’t last long.  Too many enticing smells.  We started with a truck called The Fat Shallot.  Their selection sounded interesting.

Fat Shallot collage

We ordered the Truffle BLT and the Spicy Sesame Fries.  Pro Tip:  go with one or more couples.  This way you can order lots of different foods and only have a bite or two.  You also won’t fill up after the first truck.

Fat Shallot 2

Our second stop was the Pierogi Wagon.  Being the good polish girl that I am, I had to get the 6 for $8.95 and do a mix and match with two of each flavor.  We also got a side of sour cream and chopped bacon.  Yum!

Pierogi Wagon collage

The next stop on this culinary tour was the Happy Lobster truck.  I liked their Happy Lobster Roll so much the first time I tried it two years ago that I had to have another one this year.

Happy Lobster collage

Stop number four was at the Taste of International.  This was more of a food stand than a truck, but who am I to tell them they can’t be there?  I am not a fan of curry, but our friends are and wanted to try the curry chicken.  They were cooking it up right there in front of you and I will say it did smell delicious.

Taste of International Curry

Stop number five almost caused a complete break in our couples’ friendship that day.  First, the husband of the couple wanted to stop at a hot dog truck (Hot Dog Fiend).  Pretty basic when you have 40+ new things to try.  Granted, they offered some great combinations to at least make the hot dog interesting.

Hot Dog Fiend collage

But then . . . he did this:

2019-06-23 12.31.06

Ketchup!  Just.  Ketchup.  He’s lucky we have been friends for almost 20 years, or this could have ended a lot differently.

Final stop, and one very full stomach later, was dessert.  Stations by Decadent Flavor offered up mini donuts with sugar/spice toppings.  My SO and I got the small bag with half pumpkin spice (him) and half salted caramel (me).  So good.

Decadent Flavor collage

As I mentioned previously, there were over 40 food trucks/sponsor tents there that day.  There is no way we could hit all of them.  As much as we wanted to.

Beverage options were also available.  There was a beer/sangria/water tent right when you walked in.  You had to buy tickets for these.  You could pre-purchase these online before you go.  A VIP upgrade was available that included early admission and drink tickets.  There was also a pretty cool looking old-fashioned soda pop truck.

2019-06-23 11.15.42

And then there was this:

2017-06-25 14.42.28

A cored pineapple with the insides pureed like a slushie.  Topped with a skewer of gummies and fruit roll-ups.  With a generous sprinkling of Nerds candies.  And yes, alcoholic versions were available.

Some tables/chairs were available, but the event organizers recommend bringing your own.  You should also bring your appetite.  Happy Eating!

Cirque du Soleil VOLTA

(Not from Chicago?  Find a show near you or coming soon.)

Blogger’s note: Action photos are not easy to capture so, apologies for some of the burry images.

I really enjoy Cirque du Soleil.  So does my SO.  We saw our first show in Orlando years ago and were blown away by the theatrics, beauty, and unbelievable acrobatic talent of its performers.  There are many different versions of this show and VOLTA is here in Chicago right now.  It has set up its big top in Soldier Field’s South parking lot and is here until July 6.

Cirque du Soleil means “Circus of the Sun” or “Sun Circus”.  The Canadian company is also the largest theatrical producer in the world.  Each show is combination of different circus styles from around the world.  There are currently 20 different productions (permanent and touring) all over the world right now.  Las Vegas alone has 7 permanent ones to choose from!  As a matter of fact, my all-time favorite one, “O” is based there in the Bellagio Hotel.

“Volta is the title of Cirque du Soleil’s big top show which is themed around extreme sports. The show’s storyline is about a game show contestant named Waz, who has lost touch with himself; he starts a personal quest to find his true self by going through his memories, after discovering a group of free spirits who encourage him during this process.” – Wikipedia

The extreme sports portion was just two segments involving BMX bikes.  Super cool stunts and tricks.  One of the acts was a rider doing spins and tricks on his bike while another performer danced around him.  It was honestly pretty beautiful.  The other segment had five riders performing stunts and tricks on a half-pipe.  Watching them land after doing spins and flips was edge-of-your-seat fun.

2019-06-18 20.52.56

2019-06-18 22.06.18

Besides the extreme sports, there was the usual mix of acrobatics, both floor and aerial, dance and music.

2019-06-18 20.11.38

2019-06-18 21.38.30

One of my favorite acts of the night was the trampoline acrobatics.  When they first brought the structure out, I got excited because I had seen something similar in another production.  Then, they revealed it to have trampolines on both sides.  Brilliant.

2019-06-18 20.32.00

2019-06-18 20.33.33

Another pleasant aspect of the shows is the fitness level of the acrobats.  The guys are super ripped and the women have toned dancer bodies.  Sadly, I was only able to get this one picture.

2019-06-18 20.59.15-1

Tickets start at $70.00 (the site says $49 but that is for kids 2-12).  I was able to find discounted tickets on Goldstar for $35.00 (plus fees, but you would be paying those from their site as well).  This is a small venue so even the seats in the back or off to the side (we were both) were still pretty good.  It is a circular stage, so the performers work all angles and the stage rotates.

The show is only here for another two weeks so get your tickets soon!

Jazzin’ at the Shedd

On Wednesdays in the summer, the Shedd Aquarium hosts an event called “Jazzin’ at the Shedd” and it is just what it sounds like.  A jazz band performs while you explore the many levels of the aquarium.  When the weather cooperates, these bands play outside on the terrace.  Thanks to the rain that never ends in 2019, we had to experience the music indoors.

2019-06-12 20.46.55

The John G. Shedd Aquarium opened its doors to the public on May 30, 1930.  It operates as an aquarium and museum of aquatic life.  It provides educational services to the public and conducts scientific research to further support and protect marine wildlife.  It is hard to find someone who has lived in Chicago (or its suburbs) and has not visited the Shedd Aquarium at some point in their lives.  Along with the Planetarium and the Field Museum, the Aquarium is part of what is now known as the “museum campus”.

From 5:00 – 10:00 pm on these select dates, the museum is closed to the public for this private event.  For the price of admission ($20 for Chicago residents, $25 for Non-residents, Free to Members), guests have access to the full aquarium as well as the live music playing that night.  The Jazzin’ season will run through August and a list of performers can be found here.

With this being a special event, and a weeknight, the aquarium was not crowded.  At all.  We were able to get right up to the glass at each exhibit without waiting.

2019-06-12 20.35.49

The five-hour admission is more of an “open house” format.  Come late, leave early.  Whatever works with your schedule.  A couple of things to keep in mind:

  • Food and drinks are served, however, they are an additional cost to the night.

2019-06-12 19.50.28

  • Some exhibits close early. We decided to eat at a restaurant instead of the event.  Due to our late arrival, we missed the chance to visit the Oceanarium (it closed at 7:45 pm).
  • Another bonus that comes with admission is that you can view the Wednesday night Navy Pier fireworks from the terrace. For an additional $20, you can even reserve a spot on a Shoreline cruise to get you even closer to the display.

2019-06-12 21.34.10

I have made many trips here with my kids that it was nice to explore the marine life on my own.  Additionally, there were very few children present that night.  This is not advertised as an “adults only” event but only a handful of couples brought their kids.  Not that I have anything against kids, but aren’t “date nights” and excuse to get away from your own for a few hours?

Sometimes date-nights can be on a weeknight.  Break up your week with a little Jazz and an ocean of fish!

Art on the Mart

PRO TIP:  If you don’t read any further than this, take my advice and BRING HEADPHONES (more on that later).

Art on the Mart is a permanent public art experience along the Riverwalk in Chicago.  Lights and pictures are projected onto the entire south side of the Merchandise Mart.  Introduced in September of 2018, the art installation is presented by the City of Chicago and the League of Chicago Theaters.

theMART (formerly the Merchandise Mart), located in the River North neighborhood between Wells and Orleans streets, is the world’s largest commercial building and design center.  It spans two whole city blocks and is 25 stories tall.  theMART has been an icon in Chicago’s architectural city since it was built in the 1930s.

2019-05-25 19.40.51

On May 13, 2019, Art on the Mart expanded its projections to seven days a week for the summer.  Projections begin about 15 minutes after sunset.  Approximate sunset times are listed on their website calendar.  This summer program will run through September 29, 2019.

I would recommend getting there at least a half hour early.  There really isn’t “seating” available, except on the edges of some landscape ledges.

2019-05-25 19.40.05

Before the show starts, there is a projection instructing you to visit the website for audio.  They do not play this publicly, so if you don’t have headphones with you, you are out of luck.  Trying to play it through the speaker on your phone didn’t work that well.  Some of the light projections are set to music and some of the projections were performances from theater performers, visual artists and puppeteers.

The display is visible for 2 hours.  I’m not sure if it repeats at some point.  We didn’t stay that long.  If you are feeling adventurous, we saw a good number of kayakers enjoying the visual display on the river during that night.

If you are in the city, this is definitely worth fitting into your agenda.  This is also a FREE activity so that is always a bonus.  Just make sure you have headphones.

Heritage Corridor Ale Trail – Miskatonic Brewing Company

The Heritage Corridor Ale Trail is a multi-county pub crawl that covers craft breweries in Cook, DuPage, and Will Counties.  There are a couple of bonus breweries off the beaten path down near Starved Rock as well.  The Ale Trail creates a Passport every May and challenges the beer connoisseur to visit as many establishments (26 at last count) as possible by December 31.

First, the Passport is completely digital this year.  In the past, it was a booklet that you would have to remember to bring with you.  The brewery would then give you a sticker with a purchase.  Now, it is an app where you “check in” at each location (with the purchase of a beverage).  “Checking in” requires a 4-digit code that the brewer will give you upon purchase.  Some breweries just have the “check in”, while others might offer a bonus.

Copy

Second – there are prizes!  If you hit ten different breweries, you will receive a “Certified Beer Explorer” Pint Glass.  If you visit 20 different locations, you will receive a “Master Beer Explorer” Barrell Bag.  Not sure what this is but I want one.

Our first stop along the Ale Trail was Miskatonic Brewing Company in Darien, IL.  Miskatonic opened its doors to the public in 2015.  In an article about the brewery, published in 2017, Brewery Manager Josh Mowry explains that the company name Miskatonic is “a fictional place out of the stories by a long-dead author named H.P. Lovecraft”.  One of my favorite things about this establishment is its logo.  Mowry goes on to describe this creation: “Lovecraft liked to write about things that seemed normal, until it got very, very weird. Our Victorian lady (we call her Cecilia) starts off normal, but by the time your eyes take in the whole silhouette, everything gets weird.”  How uniquely weird is this?

2019-05-18 19.44.20

The interior itself is pretty great for hanging out.  The main room is darker, with high top tables and come cool graffiti on the wall.

2017-12-10 14.53.07

They also have a smaller, well-lit room on the side with regular tables.  There are board games available for fun and you are welcome to either bring food in with you or order food from a local restaurant.

2017-12-10 16.26.19

You can also take a tour of the brewery and there is a Groupon available for that.  My friend, Ruta, had a Groupon with her that night for $15.00 for 2 flights of five 5-ounce pours.  Not sure how often that one pops up, but you should be on the look-out for it in the future.  Ordering a flight is my favorite way of drinking at a brewery.  Some beer descriptions sound good on paper, but the flavors don’t always translate into the actual taste of the ale.  I have also been pleasantly surprised by a sample that I would not normally order.

Tour

In addition to the tour, Miskatonic hosts events throughout the year.  Draft releases, music, trivia, and food trucks can all be found on their calendar.

So download your Passport and start working your way towards a prize.  You might find a new watering hole or beverage you like along the way!

Volunteer – Race Day with a Twist

The weather is starting to warm up which means race season is in full bloom as well.  Now, we all know that these events happen year-round, however, the Spring and Summer months seem to be the high time for these competitions.  5K, 10K, Half-Marathon, Marathon, Triathalons, Iron Man, the list goes on (and on).  Some races exist as fundraisers for causes (breast cancer, lukemia/lymphoma, etc.) and some as fundraisers for your local park districts.  Some races are competitive, and some are just for fun like the bubble run or color run.  My point here is, there is bound to be a race or competition near you sometime in the near future.  And they are always looking for volunteers.

Last year, I wrote about a mini triathalon in my area that I volunteered for.  One of the things I pointed out was that, a husband/wife couple (and close friends) volunteer every year and work the same station together.  I also worked a station with another husband/wife couple (and close friends).  It is an easy activity that you can do together while also supporting a cause and cheering on any neighbors who are participating.

2019-05-11 07.05.16

The “with a twist” that I am referring to above is, that, I volunteered for a race that my SO participated in.   So, while we were not technically doing this activity together, I was still there to see him and cheer him on at that start of the race and then I had something to do while he is running.  I also got to see him again after the race.

This year I volunteered for the Quarryman Challenge in Lemont.  This unique race hosts a 5K and a 10 mile run though the streets of Lemont.  The HILLY streets of Lemont.

What makes this particular run “unique” is the end game.  They serve free beer and pizza to all of the finishers!  This is one of my SO’s favorite runs simply for this treat.  Others would agree as they had almost 700 runners this year.

Beer vendors

2019-05-11 07.46.03

The other “unique” aspect is the prize for the top runners.  They do not hand out the standard medal.  Lemont was known, back in the day, for its quarries and the production of dolomite (a version of limestone).  Each winner (3rd place and up) gets a chunk of rock from the quarry with an engraved plate.

So, look up some races or other events near you this summer and volunteer together.  It is a great feeling to support your community and neighbors.  And who doesn’t like a free t-shirt?

2019-05-12 08.57.58

Shawnee National Forest – Part III: Where to Stay

I wrote about some hiking in the Shawnee National Forest a few months ago.  You can find those blog posts here and here.  Now that Spring has arrived (let’s hope there are no more rogue blizzards like the one we just had last weekend), you should really think about heading down there for a few days to enjoy the beauty of this area.  But, you will need a place to stay.

My SO and I were invited, this past November, to join friends of ours for a weekend get-away in Southern Illinois.  A little hiking, and a winery or two were on the agenda.  Our friends had already been down there once before and she came across this wonderful Inn in Makanda, IL.  Simply named Makanda Inn and Cottages, this bed and breakfast is located right across from Giant City State Park.

2018-11-16 09.57.19

2018-11-16 12.25.33

The Makanda Inn opened as a Bed & Breakfast with just the suites in 2009 and the cottages were completed in 2012.  Loraine and Malcolm Leigh have been managing the property (they also live there) since 2015.  You couldn’t meet a nicer, more sociable couple.

The Inn has 4 spacious suite-style rooms in the main cabin.  King size beds are standard in all of their bedrooms.  Each of these rooms is artfully decorated in dark, rich colors.  Stone showers and vanities made from blocks of wood add to the rustic décor.  We slept like rocks.  Then again, we were super tired from hiking each day.  Although “cocktail hour” at the end of the day helped with that as well.  They also offer two small cabins and one larger cabin if you wanted to have some space.  The two smaller cabins have a kitchenette area with a 2-burner, electric stove top and microwave (but not a traditional stove), and the larger cabin has a full kitchen area with a full-size stove/oven and a large microwave.  The larger cabin is ideal for those looking to spend more than a couple of days (or even a week or two).

2018-11-16 12.33.56

2018-11-16 12.34.12

The Makanda Inn has a spacious great room on the main floor.  Couches and tables and chairs are available for all of the guests (in the main cabin or the cottages) to settle in at the end of a long day with a cocktail or two (or more if you are in our group).  You are welcome to bring your own cooler of beverages with you.  Or, if you are feeling something different, Malcolm tends bar from 4:00-9:00 pm each night for your drinking pleasure.  Anything from their bar must be purchased and, I speak from experience, he makes a mean Painkiller.

2018-11-16 09.48.22

2018-11-16 09.47.43

The one thing that sets them apart, and the main reason I will be going back, is that they serve up an incredible breakfast.  I love food and enjoy eating a really good meal and Loraine and Malcolm do not disappoint.  This meal is included only if you stay in the main cabin.  You can purchase this as an extra if you stay in one of the cottages, but you need to reserve your spot ahead of time.  Additionally, while Malcolm does not tend bar at this time, Mimosas and Bloody Mary’s are available to purchase if you want to start your day off right.

This was not your typical buffet-style scrambled eggs and bacon.  The first morning, we started with a small bowl of moon drop grapes.  I had never heard of these before, but they were delicious.  Then, we were told we were having cinnamon roll waffles with a cream cheese glaze.  The waffle took up the whole plate!  And, the plating was Top Chef worthy.  Photo credit for this one goes to Loraine Leigh.

DSC01724 (2) (002)

Day 2 was a pork sausage and scrambled egg burrito with homemade guacamole and salsa (and a dollop of cream cheese) along with some fried plantains.  This was accompanied by a small plate of pineapple and golden kiwi.

2018-11-17 09.13.24

Day 3 started with a blueberry yogurt parfait followed by a plate of French toast, scrambled eggs, and sausages.

2018-11-18 09.02.24

2018-11-18 09.12.11

They are not playing games here.  Extra points for presentation.  Malcolm and Loraine are serious about enjoying your stay with them.  And, if they weather is on the cooler side, you might get to see Malcolm light the fireplace with a blowtorch . . . (this was a highlight for my SO)

Weekends book fast!  Maybe think about making this a part of your summer “staycation” and go down there during the week.   Either way, get down there and enjoy the beautiful weather and even more beautiful scenery.  And tell them Karen sent you!!

 

Kane County Flea Market

Some people think that a flea market is just a giant garage sale.  Some think it is just full of antiques.  Those were my thoughts as well.  Then I spent the day at one and found so much more to discover.

The Kane County Flea Market has been up and running for 51 years.  It was started by a woman named Helen Robinson and is still run by her sons today.  Held on the Kane County Fairgrounds in St. Charles, the market hosts hundreds of vendors.  We spent a good 3 hours discovering the various treasures available.  The flea market operates one weekend per month, starting in March and ending in December.  These sellers are set up inside and outside, so check the weather and plan your outfit accordingly.  Parking is free, but the cost to enter is $5.00/person.

Going back to the “garage sale” thought process, there is the old saying “one person’s trash is another person’s treasure”.  Quite a few vendors had, what looked like, estate sale collections.  Plates, glass bowls, etc. Tchotchke heaven for some people.  I can’t tell you how many pieces we saw that reminded us of our parent’s and grandparent’s homes.  This is a great place to shop if you are looking for vintage pieces to mix in with your modern aesthetic.  Or, maybe the vintage look is your whole aesthetic.  Either way, the pickings are not slim here.

2019-04-06 12.52.35

One object that seems to be having a renaissance right now, is the record player.  Twenty-somethings today are asking for turntables for Christmas and birthdays.  We have a few friends who like to host Vinyl Nights as well.  Quite a few vendors had albums mixed in with their treasures.  If you have the time and patience to go through them, you will probably find something to add to your personal collection.

Albums

Furniture is a popular item at the market as well.  Some pieces are new, some are refurbished.  Some are untouched antiques.  Maybe you have been looking for that special piece to finish that bedroom or dining room you are remodeling.  Or maybe you have always wanted to try to refinish a dresser yourself.  You will surely find a good deal here.  Some of the furniture sellers were also willing to custom build pieces as well.

Furniture

The Flea Market is also a good place to go to for collectibles.  Old and new.  For the old, there were a handful of vendors who were selling Hot Wheels cars.  I couldn’t tell if they were actual collector’s items but they were still in the original packaging.  Same with the Barbies.  They looked like older versions, but I am not an expert.  I am sure there were more, but those were the two that caught my eye.

Cars and Barbies

For the new, there were sports memorabilia vendors, beer steins, rooster statues, and more.  What is with the rooster by the way?  Is this still a part of kitchen décor?  Because I see this creature everywhere.

Collectibles

Vendors selling new, craftier, items were scattered throughout the grounds as well.  If you like jewelry, holy cow is this the place for you.  So many sellers.  So many beautiful pieces.  Clothing, scarves, and purses were available.  As was the largest selection of “bags” for all of your picnic gaming needs.

New items

I know this adventure is not for everyone, and I was skeptical going into it as well, but, if you have a Saturday or Sunday afternoon free, this was a relaxing way to spend some time with your SO.  Beautiful weather, lots of exercise, lots of treasures to explore.

Big tip:  Bring cash.  Some vendors do not have the ability to process credit cards.  And haggling is a thing.  Not my thing, but if it is your thing, you can definitely hone your skills here.