Friday, August 13, 2010

Lake Geneva with the Guys, August, 9, 2010

When Rod comes up during Fair Week, we have started a tradition of getting with my brother Jeff to do something.  Jeff takes a week off during the Boone County Fair and since we don't get to spend much time with him, it's nice to get away and do something fun. 

On the agenda this time, Rod had in mind seeking out a Tiki Bar that he had read about on Jimmy Buffet's fan site--a place called Hemingway's.  So we  printed out a map, and headed out.  But first we had to run the folks car into Clinton to be serviced, so we did a little side trip to the Clinton Cafe, a place renowned for their pie. 

Since we got to the dealership's service department at lunch time, we headed into town to find the pie place.  We made it in before a large group of Japanese "tourists" who we hypothesized were in town to check out buying the whole town.  Honestly, maybe they just heard about the pie because a couple of them wanted their pictures taken in front of the Clinton Cafe sign outside!  Maybe there is a new pie franchise coming our way?!

The lunch was nice and the pie we sampled was incredible.  If you are ever there and the Dutch Apple is offered--get it--warmed with vanilla ice cream.  I am sure the Blueberry Jeff got was good too, but, after the other one I just couldn't taste it.  The dealership was ready for us after lunch and we were in and out of there pretty quick.  Then just a short drive into Lake Geneva where we parked near the Library.

The day was bright and sunny with lots of activity going on at the beach.  We did a slow walk through the shade trees on the waterfront, the guys hoping to scope out some thong clad women at the beach before coming around the tour boats and heading back to the car.  We were gonna do a drive by the Lake, and in after thought we should have.  By then we were hot and ready for a cold beverage, so we headed to Hemingway's instead. 

When we found it, there was one car in the parking lot and honestly it looked like it might have been there over the winter months.  A quick look at the sign in the door told us we were too early for drinks in the Tiki Bar.   Maybe when I come back for the Venetian Art Festival in a couple weeks I can have a drink there and send a postcard to Rod!

So Plan B was a return trip back to Rockford.  I told the guys we could have a drink at Rascals and maybe catch the Cubs on one of the TVs.  They of course were still hot and thirsty so we high tailed it back to town.  On the way I sent Roger a text hoping he could join  us.  He ended up bringing Richele along with and we all had a couple beers, shot some pool and then headed back to the folks house for dinner.  It was a nice day even though it didn't totally go by our original plans!

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Wilder Park Craft Fair, Elmhurst IL, August 7 & 8, 2010

Mom decided to come along to this craft show put on by the same promoter who does the Downtown LaGrange Craft Show.  We headed out Friday afternoon--early we thought--to drive down to LaGrange first to pick up a pail of lye from a supplier there.  Unfortunately the traffic around O'Hare was horrible resulting in us being about 10 minutes late to pick up the lye.  Lucky for us, Deb in the office of Boyer Chemical was very accommodating and she was able to wait for us.

After picking up the lye supply, we were free to explore the area and find the hotel.  Our hotel was up in the Itasca area so we opted to drive the local roads there to see if we could find any great places for dinner.  We stumbled on Christy's Pancake House where we should have gotten the Friday fish fry, so, we weren't exactly "wow"ed after eating.

The Hotel was a Doubletree Inn just up the road which we found ok.  The front desk staff was wonderful and they even give you a couple warm chocolate chip cookies when you check in.  Very nice rooms and a nice business center to check email too!  We hit the beds early since we were trying to get to Wilder Park to set up by 7 am. 

It turns out that the promoter's setup time was 7:30, so we chatted with other vendors for a while before getting down to work.  We even found a grocery store to get some sandwiched because it didn't appear they were going to have any food.  There were maybe 60 vendors at this show, mainly spread along the sidewalk at the park's edge. 

As usual, I wasn't at the sidewalks edge, but rather down in the park with 12 or so other unlucky crafters.  Turns out the promoter thought the ground slanted too much at the sidewalk, so, they moved us down where it was flat--and where no one wanted to walk when it was wet.  LOL

Saturday was a slowish day with not too much traffic but absolutely gorgeous weather.  We made plans to get some copies made after the show and find a place to eat.  That turned out to  be a hard thing to do--we drove around forever never finding just the right place.  In Wood Dale we came upon the "Sweet Baby Rays BBQ" joint and while neither of us were feeling like BBQ, we were happy we did.  My St Louis ribs were awesome and Mom enjoyed the baby backs.  We ended up getting the copies made at the hotel while we settled in to watch a couple episodes of "Say Yes to the Dress". 

Sunday we made it to the show about 10 and were greeted with rain and grey clouds.  By 12:30 you could tell it was clearing.  By, 1:30 the promoter was telling everyone that this slow moving "storm" wasn't going to clear up until after the show's 4 pm closing time, so we were free to leave.  Which of course meant that half the crafters packed up to leave!

Once I am set up and it is raining, I am just not ready to give up.  First, your tent's gonna have to be dried out.  Second, packing up soap in the rain is very stressful and can lead to lot's of damaged product.  And finally, I committed to being there until 4 pm and I needed more customers!

By about 1:45 the sun was out but no one was coming off the sidewalk to shop.   SO, Mom and I carried our tables right up to the edge of the sidewalk and Mom proceeded to sell almost as much soap as we had the whole day on Saturday in two hours.  The customers couldn't believe that the crafters had left.  The promoters had left about 1:35, so, I guess they had another commitment that day.  Pretty lousy of them, I thought!

The good news is that by the time we got back to Rockford, Rod was within striking distance of being there!  Two months apart is TOO LONG!  So glad to see him and be able to spend some time together...finally.

Hampshire IL Coon Creek Country Days Festival, July 30 - August 1, 2010

I decided to try this little community festival since it was so close to Rockford.  They had a nice line-up of music events and it seemed like a great way to spend a weekend.  The only downside was that it was four days long and the evening hours lasted until 11 pm.  Luckily, crafters could pick the days they wanted to come.

So, I decided to drive over on Friday afternoon and setup for the 6 - 11pm hours.  When I arrived, the only people to be found were the Pretzel vendors in the food area.  A short while later, one of the organizers drove up and he helped me find my spot.  The weather was threatening to rain, but, we never got more than a misty sprinkle.  By about 7 pm the sun was out and the bugs too!

I ended up doing alright for a Friday night, making all my expenses and a little profit.  I was looking forward to Saturday--but I had been warned it would be quiet until the evening hours. 

On Saturday, more of the crafters showed up.  There were about 24 crafter/business booths spaced out and by the weekend they had all been filled.  However, there were probably only about 12 true craft booths.  A little disappointing to both those of us looking for a craft show and customers too. 

The best thing about the festival as a whole was the music.  Friday night's lineup was incredible.  I had to ask one customer if that was the band playing or canned music between sets.  They were great!!!  Saturday during the day the music was geared to a younger crowd, so, not my favorite thing.  By Saturday night the good music was playing again along with a FANTASTIC fireworks display. 

Now fireworks I know--living right behind Universal Studios I get to see three sets of fireworks nightly during the summer and Holidays.  But, it's been sometime since I saw the ground level displays.  Both the high stuff and the ground stuff at Hampshire were AWESOME.  I am not using those capital letters lightly, folks! 

On Sunday there was a parade through downtown followed by FREE sweet  corn prepared by a local farm using their old steam tractor as the source for the heat.  Lots of locals came out for both, and some even walked through the craft area.  I think this festival has a bit more growing to do before it will support a true craft show.  But, the organizers have their hearts in the right place--I enjoyed being a part of it!