Downstate Road Trip Round Up: What Makes You Famous?

Regional road trips are all the rage right now. Many folks feel most comfortable hopping in the car with their loved ones and exploring sights that are off the beaten path. Some of those sights may even be in your own backyard! For plenty of regional travel ideas, check-in every Wednesday for a Downstate Illinois Road Trip Roundup on themed topics showcasing several destinations across the southern portion of the state. This week we take a look at some of the many FAMOUS things throughout our region of Illinois! 

Effingham

When you think of Effingham, three things are sure to come to mind! If you’re a foodie, John Boos & Co. is a must-visit here in Effingham. Known for their Boos Blocks cutting boards crafted of solid quality American Hardwoods (maple, walnut and cherry), John Boos & Co. products can be seen on major cooking shows, including Chopped, MasterChef and The Kitchen, and they are used by chefs and celebrities such as Bobby Flay, Gordon Ramsay, Alton Brown, Gida De Laurentiis, Drew Barrymore, Kylie Jenner and many more. John Boos & Co. has been in continuous business since 1887 and is the oldest industry in Effingham. While here, you’ll definitely want to stop at the John Boos Factory Outlet Showroom to pick up some of your foodie favorites to use just like the professionals. After purchasing your essentials from the Factory Outlet Showroom, have dinner on a John Boos & Co. butcher-block table at a one-of-a-kind restaurant right here in Effingham. Firefly Grill is truly a culinary experience that continues to bring thousands of people to the Effingham community each year. This local favorite is an award-winning, eco-friendly farm to table roadhouse. Firefly’s ever-changing menu boasts fresh, sustainable seafood, prime steaks, brick-oven pizzas and soulful, American-fresh cuisine. They are so passionate about sourcing the best ingredients that they grow many themselves in their on-site organic garden. What they can’t grow themselves, they source locally from artisan farmers and foragers. Firefly Grill offers an unforgettable experience for travelers, as many plan their road trips around our one-of-a-kind restaurant experience. Groups are invited to explore the gardens, participate in demonstrations and spend time relaxing on the beautiful grounds! After dinner, head down the street to catch a show at the Effingham Performance Center! National, regional and local performers take the stage each season at the EPC. This not-for-profit theater hosts a wide variety of performances each year on the impressive Rosebud Stage. The theater seats 1,518 people. Outstanding sight lines, comfortable legroom and acoustic excellence, as well as concessions and a bar, make the EPC a desirable venue to enjoy a live performance. More than 30 performances are presented each year, including genres such as Country, Rock, Contemporary, Comedy, Dance, Bluegrass and other family-friendly shows. They have a jam-packed lineup this year and we can’t wait to see you at a show! You can experience it all here in Effingham -- whether you want to cook like a professional, savor a culinary experience or enjoy the best live entertainment in the region, make Effingham your stop! 

ILLINOISouth 

What makes our area famous? Well… A LOT! ILLINOISouth is full of iconic places that appeal to everyone's interests. Did you know that the delicious Heath Bar was invented in Robinson? Dating back to 1914, the Heath Bar is now a global phenomenon, and fans of the toffee candy bar can visit the confectionery where it all started while also checking out their museum to learn more about the origins of the delicious treat. The Heath Museum and Confectionary is a sweet place to visit! In Breese, Excel Bottling Company has a variety of delicious soft drinks to quench your thirst. This family-owned bottling company is best known for their most popular soda, Ski, also known as “Clinton County coffee” due to its popularity and the fact that folks will line up in the mornings to get their Ski fix before work. Be sure to stop by Excel Bottling Company to taste Ski for yourself! Over in Chester, you can visit the home of the iconic cartoon character Popeye the Sailor Man. Here you can visit the only Popeye Museum & Shop in the world and walk through the Popeye & Friends Character Trail, which features statues of the characters from E.C. Segar’s Thimble Theatre cartoon strip. There is no shortage of fun with Popeye the Sailor Man in Chester! Enjoy seeing some of ILLINOISouth’s most iconic places! 

Mt. Vernon 

Known as the “Festival Arts City,” there is always something going on in Mt. Vernon! From live musical entertainment to gallery openings, Mt. Vernon is the place for the artist in all of us. Check out our calendar on http://www.enjoymtvernon.com/events for complete calendar listings, which are sortable by date or type of event! Ash Bash Music & Art Festival will be held August 7th from 2 p.m. – 11 p.m. on the grounds of Roadhouse Harley-Davidson. This fun event is a philanthropic endeavor with proceeds going to the Siteman Cancer Center for Research and Patient Care and to a local cancer patient to help with expenses. Enjoy live concerts by: Lucero, Pumphouse Monster, 90's Kidz, Jeremy T. McConaughey, Dylan Mitchell, a variety of vendors, Kids Korner with Rock Painting! Train Rides and Bouncy Houses, Live Auction, Raffles, Food Trucks, Beer Garden and more! Cedarhurst Center for the Arts is the place to be for the Annual Cedarhurst Arts & Craft Fair each September. The fair is open Friday, September 10 from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. and Saturday, September 11 and Sunday, September 12 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More than 60 exhibitors from throughout the country will be on hand to demonstrate and sell crafts. Each year crafters bring jewelry, metal work, pottery and more for collectors to enjoy and purchase. Live entertainment can be found in the beer tent and a huge children’s area is tons of fun for your littles. Admission $5 adults, children under 12 free. Hotel packages are available for this event.

 

Midwest Light Sport Aircraft Expo, at the Mt. Vernon Outland Airport will be September 9-11, 2021. The event was created to sell LSA’s, LSA Ancillary Equipment and LSA related services, but everyone enjoys visiting and learning about the aircraft technology. Mt. Vernon Fall Fest will be September 24-25 with a theme of #618Strong, is celebrated in the streets of downtown Mt. Vernon. Live music, free kid zone, the DMDC Cruise In & Car Show, vendors marketplace, amazing food court, a 100+ entry parade, 5K Race and more! Cedarhurst again opens its gates late September as the host of Ironclad Art: The Motorcycle. You’ll see firsthand why our slogan is “Creativity: Redefined!” when you see the works of art found in more than 100 bikes from all makes, models and generations! The Heritage Festival at the Jefferson County Historical Village the first weekend in October is an interactive take on history. See how a blacksmith works, grind some corn, listen to folk music and enjoy the sites. Free admission.The Annual Downtown Christmas Parade and Tree Lighting is held the first Saturday of December each year.  Enjoy the Christmas Light Parade at 5 p.m. which will be followed with a tree lighting on the east side of the courthouse, singing, cookie decorating, crafts, refreshments and more! Don’t forget to stop by Santa’s Cottage while you are there too! Visit http://www.enjoymtvernon.com/events for a complete listing of Festivals and Events in Mt. Vernon where we are living Creativity: Redefined! through our passions in life!